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This sprawling national park begins on the flanks of the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano and includes this volcano’s namesake active crater. Down lower is an area of geothermal activity similar to that of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Fumaroles, geysers, and hot pools cover this small area, creating a bizarre, otherworldly landscape. In addition to hot springs and mud pots, you can explore waterfalls, a lake, and volcanic craters. Bird-watching here is rewarding, as the sparse foliage of the dry forest makes spotting easier, and from the high volcanic slopes here you can enjoy sweeping views all the way to the ocean.

What’s in a Name?

Rincón de la Vieja literally means “the old lady’s corner.” In this case, “la vieja” has the connotation of a witch or hag, while “rincón” is better interpreted as “lair.” The name is derived from a legend that a woman’s father threw her lover into the smoking, belching volcanic crater, and she moved onto the mountain and became a hermit. It was said she had healing powers.