On June 5th 2019, Costa Rica created the newest protected area of the country, the Miravalles National Park. Including Miravalles, the country has now a total of 29 National Parks and 8 National Reserves, for a total of 37 protected areas. The government’s goal is to have at some point 45% of Costa Rica fully protected, currently the total of protected areas is 26% of the whole territory, not counting the numerous private reserves which increase this percentage to a total of 35% of the country’s territory.
Its original name was "Cuipilapa", word from the Nahuatl that means River of various colors, years later it ended up changing to Miravalles as the land was owned by Don Crisanto Medina, neighbor of the area. Miravalles was actually the only volcano in Costa Rica that didn’t have a National Park status, until now.
It is estimated that the age of the volcano is about 1.6 million years, as the result of massive pyroclastic flows. Its most recent direct volcanic activity was recorded in 1946 on the southeast flank of the volcano, (better known as the burners) as a result of geothermal flows in the ground, and apart from this activity, the closest records to this can date from about 7000 years ago. In addition, the seismic activity is quite evident due to different faults in the region, an activity that tourism takes advantage of because it creates volcanic mud baths, hot springs and a lot of volcanic activity observation points where trails are built for tourists to enjoy.
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Located in the province of Alajuela, in the Upala County, the new Miravalles National Park is a must stop for those who visit the northern part of our country. This national park can be accessed from highway 1 if coming from San Jose or Liberia, or from the town of Upala passing through Bijagua if coming from Tortuguero or the Arenal Volcano-La Fortuna areas.
Miravalles National Park map
The economy of this area of the country has being historically based on cattle farming and agriculture, but tourism is growing rapidly. The area is developing in ecotourism, adventure sports and relaxation because of the access to the thermal waters, the creation of the Miravalles National Park will give the local economy a big push for development.
Miravalles has a remarkable secondary volcanic activity, and due to this it’s one of the most important volcanoes in Costa Rica because of the geothermal project developed on its foothills, thanks to the water vapor generated, a large amount of electricity is generated, which allows the country to continue with its clear vision of producing all of its electricity in a clean way.
The Miravalles National Park is mainly made of mountains, and it has the highest summit of the Guanacaste Volcanic Mountain Range at 2,028 meters above the sea level, with a semi destroyed inactive crater, and 6 volcanic peaks in total.
Within the Miravalles National Park you can find different types of climates and temperatures, where on the summit the temperatures can go down to 6 degrees Celsius (59 F), these are the lowest temperatures recorded in this area. On lower lands of the park, the annual average temperature is around 29 degrees Celsius (84 F), whereas an average of precipitation of 3500 millimeters is presented.
The Miravalles National Park features mainly rainforest jungles throughout the territory and some patches of Cloud Forest at the highest points of its mountains. Among the species of animals that are registered within this region are the 6 different species of felines found in Costa Rica, (puma, jaguar, caucel, oncilla, ocelot and jaguarundi), snakes like the Fer-de Lance , Bushmaster, Boa constrictor, coral, also an important amount of birds like the umbrella bird, crested guan, wattled bell bird, toucans and trogons.
The Miravalles National Park has many rustic lodging options for its visitors, these are mainly located near the towns of “Guayabo de Bagaces” and “La Fortuna de Bagaces”. The area already has established theme parks where Miravalles Volcano Tours from the Guanacaste Gold Coast can be done, which include activities like zip lining, horseback riding, volcanic activity observation, rainforest hiking, hot springs, volcanic mud baths, wildlife observations, waterfall tours, among others.
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