Tenorio Volcano National Park is best known for the Rio Celeste Waterfall and its turquoise blue color. The phenomenon of Rio Celeste’s beautiful blue color is visible at one of the viewpoints on the trail as explained in more detail below. The hiking trail is an easy walk, that can get very muddy and slippery when raining, with some stairs.
Tenorio Volcano is located approximately a 1.5-hour drive north from La Fortuna on a paved road with big potholes once you get off Route 4. The short hike to the Blue Waterfall and beyond is easy, beautiful and very muddy.
Rates and Parking At Tenorio Volcano
Parking is available at the entrance of the park and costs 2,000 colones ($3).
National and residents’ entrance fee is 800 colones ($1.25).
The non-residents’ entrance fee is $12
Location and Directions
Tenorio Volcano National Park is located approximately 70 km (43.5 miles) north of La Fortuna and Lake Arenal. The entrance is from the east side of the national park.
From La Fortuna head east on Route 142 and merge onto Route 4 heading north. This drive is fairly easy and straightforward. At San Rafael de Guatuso turn left and head toward the park entrance. This part of the drive is when the potholes start showing up as well as hills, sharp corners and clouds. Approximately 7 km (4.34 miles) before the park entrance you will start seeing road signs pointing in the direction of the park. We recommend that you follow the road signs since Google Maps was taking us in a different direction.
Parking is available in a few different locations around the entrance, but the official parking area is on the East side of the road past the park entrance on the West side of the road. There are a couple of Sodas around that also offer to park.
Tenorio Volcano Park Entrance and The Facilities
Bathroom facilities and water filling stations are available at the entrance.
When you are ready to start your hike, there is one last checkpoint where you are asked to open your backpack for inspection. We were asked if we had a knife or if we had cigarettes, then let through.
The parking is available in front of the entrance or across the street.
Trail Type – Easy/Medium Difficulty – in our opinion, it was more of an easy/medium hike with over 280 stairs if going all the way down to the waterfall pool
Trail Distance – 2,470 meters (1.5 miles)
Approximate time – 1.5 hrs.
They may close the park if the rain is heavy.
A great resource for all national parks in Costa Rica is SINAC.
Tenorio Volcano Trail
The beginning of the hike is on a paved trail through a beautiful rainforest. Then it turns into a dirt trail with occasional rocks. The first hanging bridge on this hike is at the beginning of the trail.
TIP: Always take your time and keep your eyes out for wildlife.
The first stop is the entrance to the waterfalls – Catarata. It is about 150 meters (490 ft) down the stairs. The stairs are in good condition and they have nice handrails. By the time we got to this point, it was raining pretty hard, so we decided to continue walking and do the waterfall at the end, hoping it would stop raining.
Mirador, the next stop on the trail was another bummer for us since it was really cloudy and rainy, we couldn’t see anything.
Continuing on, the trail gets steeper going downhill with some large steps and rocks making their way to the Laguna Azul (The Blue Lagoon). It is very slippery and muddy here when raining.
This is also where you start smelling a little bit of sulfur and only 50 meters (164 ft) further down the trail is where you can see it bubbling through the water at the point called Borbollones (Bubbly). This is where the sulfur is bubbling through the water and releasing a rather strong sulfur smell.
By this time, we were completely soaked and the trail had completely turned into mud, but we continued on to the next and last viewpoint – Teñideros.
After crossing two hanging bridges over the beautiful blue river, you will find yourself at the spot where two rivers come together and turn into one turquoise blue river. It is an impressive thing to see.
FUN FACT: According to the park’s information, this phenomenon happens because of the pH change that increases the mineral size, and the suspended minerals are what gives the river the beautiful blue color.
On our way back we stopped at the waterfall and surprisingly enough it seemed as if the rain has completely stopped. We enjoyed this beautiful view for a few minutes, made our way back up the stairs and the rain started again.
TIP: When raining, the edge of the stairs are the most slippery part, so watch your footing.
Things to Wear
Because of the unpredictable weather always wear quick-drying clothes when hiking in Costa Rica.
Before you get into the park, you may see locals selling ponchos for a couple of bucks. It’s worth the investment if you don’t have a rain jacket. As for shoes, either comfortable hiking sandals or waterproof hiking boots or rent rubber boots at the rental place right across from the entrance. It would also be helpful to bring hiking poles for additional balance when walking through the mud uphill/downhill.
Even though it rained the entire time during our adventure in the Tenorio National Park this was one of our favorite hikes we did in Costa Rica. Learning about the science behind the color change and witnessing it with your own eyes is priceless.