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turrialba volcano with its dam
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Turrialba Volcano National Park

Turrialba Volcano National Park

Quick Facts

  • Location : 10 miles northwest of Turrialba
  • Altitude : 10,918 feet above sea level
  • Area : 3,900 acres
  • Telephone : 2290-8202

Turrialba Volcano stands at almost 11,000 feet above sea level. In 1955, a national park was founded to protect the volcano and its surrounding rain and cloud forests.

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Turrialba Volcano’s peak contains three well-defined craters, the largest of which measures a massive 164 feet in diameter. Though the volcano’s flanks are painted with greenery and dripping with moisture, Turrialba’s summit is best compared to the moon’s cratered, rocky landscape. Take note that temperatures fall as altitude increases; the top of the volcano averages a chilly 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures often dip much lower. 

Called White Tower (“Torre Alba”) by the Spanish, the once fuming and sputtering Turrialba Volcano entered a dormant period in 1866. For almost 150 years, Turrialba Volcano ruled the valley quietly until, in 2001, it again showed signs of gentle activity; fumaroles billowed and the crater steamed, but the volcano remained safe for exploration.

In January 2010, Turrialba Volcano erupted yet again, sending ash, rocks and toxic gases into the air and shrouding surrounding communities in soot. The park was closed for more than a year, but reopened in late July 2011 after scientists deemed the area safe for tourists.


The volcano’s peak can get very chilly (average 59 degrees Fahrenheit); it is best to bring a sweater or jacket.


Turrialba Volcano National Park is among the country’s least visited parks, though not for lack of sightseeing. Those that brave the rustic hiking trails are treated to incredible views and scenic panoramas, some stretching out to the neighboring Irazu, Poas and Barva volcanoes. A lodge on the slopes of the volcano offers a variety of hikes and horseback rides through the park.


The park has no ranger station, though park rangers may be found at the volcano’s summit.


Turrialba Volcano National Park has a few unmarked hiking trails leading toward the Eastern Crater and the Central Crater. Be aware that the park is very rustic with relatively little tourism, so care for your safety must be taken on the trails.

Fees and Schedule:

There is no admission fee to Turrialba Volcano National Park, which is open during daylight hours.

Getting There:

Turrialba Volcano National Park can only be reached via private vehicle, 4WD taxi or a difficult hike. The easiest approach begins from Santa Cruz, just 8 miles from Turrialba. The 11-mile road leading to Turrialba’s summit is paved for the first 6 miles; the final 5-mile ascent is very rough, and requires a 4WD vehicle.

Turrialba Volcano National Park in Pictures

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