The best time to visit the park is December through March or July and August, when clear days afford spectacular views. During the rainier months, trails become very muddy. Entrance to the north section (Las Brisas) costs COP$38,000 adults, COP$16,000 children under 12. Entry to La Cueva, Potosí, Nevado de Santa Isabel, and Laguna del Otún costs COP$27,000 adults, COP$5,000 children under 12. For more information about the park, or for obtaining permits, consult the website (www.parquesnacionales.gov.co), or the PNN Los Nevados office in Manizales: Calle 69A no. 24–69; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel. 6/887-161.
Nevado del Ruiz dominates the park’s northern sector, which extends south to the (extinct) Paramillo el Cisne volcano and Laguna Verde Encantado (a gorgeous volcanic lake); here there is vehicle access to 4,800 meters (15,700 ft.). The Southern Sector can only be accessed on foot or horseback (usually from Salento); it includes Nevado del Tolima (southeast corner), Nevado Santa Isabel, and Paramillo de Quindío (4,750m/15,400 ft.).
Each of the departments has its own rules and regulations concerning entrance to the park. Currently, all visitors are required to enter the park with a guide, unless your access point is Salento/Cocora Valley where there is no park office/entrance fee. However, if you are planning to enter the park at Cocora, a guide is still highly recommended; the now infamous Valley of the Lost (where Cocora meets Los Nevados) is where rescue operations are often mounted for lost travelers. There are no buses to get to the park from Manizales, Salento, or Pereira; you will need to arrange a taxi or sign up for a tour. There are several refugios in the park that will provide basic accommodation, but it’s advisable to sign up with a tour operator who will take care of all the logistics.