Our Guide to visiting Poas National Park
Poas National Park had over 2.5 million visitors in 2015. Inside the park is the famous Poas Volcano which has two craters. The first crater lays dormant and contain a beautiful green/blue lake which fills the center of the crater. The vegetation is lush surrounding this crater. The crater is known as Lake Botas. It takes about 30 minutes to hike to this crater on the Botos Lagoon trail. The depth of the lagoon is about 46 ft deep. The Escalonia trail takes about 20 minutes leading you into he forest to observe a variety of birds and flora. The Poor Man’s Umbrella trail leads you to the main Poas crater which takes only about 10 minutes. The depth of this main crater is about 131 feet.
This lagoon is named after the indigenous people the Botas
The second crater has been in the news with its volcanic activity closing the National Park itself to protect the many tourists who arrive on a daily basis. The last eruption was in 2014. (read more about the eruptions) This crater is quite difference in appearance from the other. Rocks of grey in color with less vegetation as it often smells of sulfur. On days when the sulfur has a very strong smell it is suggested you only stay about 20 minutes to observe this crater. When the crater is clear you can see the Caribbean off in the far distance. Most days it is covered in clouds. It’s best to visit early in the morning. I’ve been here several times and only had 2 day so far when it was clear. We suggest you visit the craters first things in the morning to get the best view possible. The afternoon can cloud over quickly obstructing your magnificent views.
Many visitors are brought here by bus or by local tour operators to view the craters. If you are in good health and able to walker to the first crater we suggest you take the opportunity and don’t miss out. The elevation is a little higher so do lots of deep breathing and take your time walking. This is one of my favorite place to bring our clients who come to Costa Rica. Here we are able to show them the difference of each volcano & how long it takes for the vegetation to grow once the volcano has become dormant. This National Park is a wonderful place for educational tours, day tours, and those who like shorter hiking trails.
I would like to see this rope replace with the wood rail for the next time I return. It sure distracts from your picture and the scenery is breath taking and so peaceful here.
The hiking trail map & park facilities
The Poas National Park is equipped with an ambulance, a cafeteria, washrooms, and shopping for souvenirs. I suggest if you are unable to walk to the crater that you contact someone to transport you via ambulance. This ambulance is unable to travel to Lake Botas as the path is a hiking trail only and not wide enough for a vehicle. There is also washrooms located half way between the main building and the main crater.
The most visited volcano in Costa Rica
The volcano is over 8,800 ft tall which is the second largest in the world and over 1 mile across. Poas is surrounded by a dense cloud forest with 79 different bird species as well as a number of mammals.
After making your way on the paths back from the craters stop in at the information center. There are washrooms here if you need one. The information center has some displays of the indigenous people, a replica of the volcano, and a display of some of the animals in the Country.
Hours of Operation
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:00AM-3:30PM
Admission: $15 USD
Poás National Park office, telephone 442-7041, or fax 441-0308
What we like about the park
- the views of the volcán craters are amazing
- the washrooms are clean
- how close you can get to the crater edge
What we didn’t like about the park
- the lack of maintenance repairs at Lake Botas
- lack of information for tourists about ambulance service