Founded in 1992 and categorized as one of the most important hydric sources in the region and with five types of different forests, you will find the Juan Castro Blanco National Park. This park is located just 30 minutes before arriving to Ciudad Quesada, one of the towns where you can make a stop before continuing your way to La Fortuna, where Arenal Volcano resides; and around 40 minutes after passing the town of Zarcero, a small beautiful town that is characterized for its original park full of plants cutted and sculpted into different figures such as faces, elephants, arches, dinosaurs, birds and others, which have been made by a local sculptor during the last fifty years. Here you can also visit Zarcero’s church, which is a magnificent piece of art, founded in 1910 and painted with very fine details, some of them done by national artists. Inside this church, an image of Saint Raphael can be found, and the locals say and believe that if you touch the tail of the fish he has in his hand, you will find someone to get married soon, so, if you want to give it a try, you can take a chance!
Juan Castro Blanco National Park, also known by the locals as “Pozo Verde” for its unique volcanic green lagoon, is accessible by all types of cars, even in the raining season because most of the path is paved and there are around ten minutes of driving over good gravel before arriving to the park. On your way you will have the opportunity of visualize in the horizon, and an amazing view of its conic shape. When you arrive to the park you will find a station with restrooms, dissected bugs exhibitions and a restaurant, so you can take the chance to order something that can be prepared while you do your tour around the park. Also, in the case that starts raining and you are not prepared for it, the owners have some raining plastic ponchos available for purchase.
As soon as you get prepared to start your walk through the forest there are two ways to start your journey, one is a path that starts behind the restaurant, the other and the one that the restaurant's owner will recommend is the path you will find at your left after arriving to the parking lot. This path will guide you to some great scenic views, starting with an open ceiling way between paddocks full of rocks around, where you will see some cows at your left enjoying the grass and a small river on your right which you will need to cross, in order to arrive and enter into a primary forest that leads to the Pozo Verde lagoon. You have to consider that at some point of the day it is possible to find the landscape full of fog, and as soon as it is around noon it starts to dissolve providing a better scenic view of the trees on the background, so you don’t have to worry if at the beginning of the day there is limited visibility.
It is recommended for this trip, especially during the rainy season, to be prepared and dressed for tons of mud, so the most recommended option is to use boots or mountain shoes at least. The views, landscapes and experience will be worth the effort of the 2.5Km walking to arrive to Pozo Verde, a Lagoon that is 15 meters deep and considered a volcano crater. If you are really adventurous you can swim in it and you will find that since this lagoon is from volcanic formation, the water is warmer than the water of the rivers that surround the park, the only consideration or recommendation is to take swimming or water shoes with you to avoid the grass or mud when entering the water.
Also referred as the “national park of the water”, the Juan Castro Blanco National Park offers you another natural path. Going out of Pozo Verde and taking the way to your left, you will take a trail that is 5Km long, until you find sulfur deposits and great views of the extinct Congo Volcano. Moreover when you go out of the park, you will be able to appreciate a view of the extinct Platanar Volcano, which is near to Ciudad Quesada town. Finally, if you want to spend more time in the park, there is a park station in the same place where the restaurant is, where the association that favors the development in this area is planning to create a museum and a place to offer educational speeches about the National Park.