With a staggering 6,000 species of trees, a view of the Barva Volcano and its black lake and over 117,300 acres to explore, Braulio Carrillo National Park offers plenty for the explorer in you.

Exploring Braulio Carrillo National Park: Costa Rica's Natural Gem

Spanning an impressive 47,500 hectares or 117,375 acres, Braulio Carrillo is a realm of diverse terrain, with elevations ranging from a lush 36 meters to a staggering 2,900 meters (118 to 9,514 feet). Its rich tapestry includes cloud forests, rainforests, and meandering rivers, each offering a unique glimpse into the country's biodiversity. Primary trails, conveniently located near Route 32 at the main park entrance, beckon hikers to embark on journeys of discovery.

Wildlife thrives within the embrace of Braulio Carrillo's green embrace. Sloths and monkeys, including spider, capuchin, and howler varieties, share the canopy with elusive big cats like jaguars, pumas, ocelots, and margays. Ground-dwelling creatures such as tapirs, tayras, raccoons, and armadillos traverse the forest floor, while amphibians, including the captivating red-eyed leaf frogs and blue jeans dart frogs, bring the rainforest to life with their vibrant colors. Reptiles, from eyelash pit vipers to boa constrictors, slither through the undergrowth.

For bird enthusiasts, Braulio Carrillo is a paradise, with over 500 species soaring through its skies. Spot the resplendent quetzal, marvel at the emerald toucanet, and listen to the calls of bellbirds and keel-billed toucans. King vultures, silky-flycatchers, trogons, parrots, eagles, and hummingbirds complete the avian symphony.

Managed with care by the government of Costa Rica, Braulio Carrillo National Park opens its gates from 8 AM to 4 PM daily. Three ranger stations, complete with public restrooms and basic amenities, ensure your comfort during your visit. While the park doesn't offer overnight accommodations, nearby Heredia, San Jose, and Sarapiqui provide welcoming bases for exploring this ecological treasure.

Venturing into Braulio Carrillo, you'll encounter Costa Rica's most significant elevation variance, ranging from the lowland La Selva border to the lofty summit of Barva Volcano, with its mysterious black-colored crater lake. The park is divided into two sectors for ease of administration: the Barva Volcano sector and the Quebrada Gonzalez sector, the latter easily accessible from Route 32 and the most visited section. Here, two ranger stations await.

Hiking enthusiasts can choose between two main trails from the park's entrance: the challenging Capulin or the more novice-friendly Sendero Natural Botarrama. Both offer intimate encounters with the park's biodiversity and provide birdwatchers with opportunities to spot numerous species.

For a unique perspective, embark on a cable car ride through the treetops, with the Aerial Tram on the park's eastern flank offering captivating canopy tours, reaching heights of up to 170 feet. And on the upper slopes, experience the thrill of horseback riding, a delightful way to explore the park's natural wonders.

Braulio Carrillo National Park is an invitation to delve into the heart of Costa Rica's wilderness, where rainforests, cloud forests, and a mosaic of life await your exploration.

Braulio Carrillo National Park Facts

Region: Central Mountains
Closest town: San Jose, Heredia
Size in hectares: 47,500 (117,375 acres)
Year established: 1978
Elevation in meters: 36 – 2,900 (118 – 9,514 feet)
Private managed: no
Government managed: yes
Rangers station: yes
Overnight facilities: no
Public restrooms: yes
Entrance fee: $12pp
Days: daily
Hours: 08:00 - 16:00
Hiking trails: yes
Boat tours: no
Average temperature range in Fahrenheit: varies significantly based on elevation, but on average 60 – 80
Average yearly precipitation in millimeters: 6,000 (236 inches)
Habitat: river, rainforest, cloud forest

How to get there

Quebrada Gonzalez sector:  From San Jose, take Rt. 32 east until you see signs for the park.

Barva Volcano sector:  From San Jose, take Rt. 3 north to Heredia.  Then take Rt. 126 to Barva.  From Barva, take Rt. 114 to Sacramento and then and follow signs to the park.

Braulio Carrillo National Park Weather

Braulio Carrillo National Park in Costa Rica experiences a tropical rainforest climate, characterized by distinct wet and dry seasons. The park's weather conditions are influenced by its elevation range, which varies from lowland rainforests to higher cloud forests. Here's an overview of the weather you can expect in Braulio Carrillo National Park:

Dry Season (December to April):

  • The dry season is the most popular time to visit the park due to its relatively drier and sunnier weather.
  • Average High Temperature: 84°F to 86°F (29°C to 30°C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 68°F to 70°F (20°C to 21°C)
  • During this period, you can generally expect clear skies and less rainfall, making it an ideal time for hiking and exploring the park's trails.

Wet Season (May to November):

  • The wet season in Braulio Carrillo National Park brings frequent and heavy rainfall, especially in the afternoons and evenings.
  • Average High Temperature: 84°F to 86°F (29°C to 30°C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 68°F to 70°F (20°C to 21°C)
  • Despite the rain, the park's lush rainforests and cloud forests come alive during this time, offering a unique and vibrant experience for nature enthusiasts.


  • Braulio Carrillo National Park receives a substantial amount of rainfall, particularly during the wet season, with an annual average ranging from 160 to 280 inches (4,000 to 7,000 mm). This rainfall nourishes the rich biodiversity of the park.


  • High humidity is a constant feature of the park's climate year-round, creating the ideal conditions for the thriving rainforests and cloud forests.

Weather Variability:

  • While the dry season typically offers more rain-free days, sudden showers can still occur, so it's advisable to be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Best Time to Visit:

  • The dry season, from December to April, is generally considered the best time to visit for those seeking drier and sunnier weather.
  • However, the wet season offers a unique opportunity to witness the park's lushness and thriving biodiversity, making it an attractive option for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

Braulio Carrillo National Park's climate ensures a vibrant and ever-changing environment, where rainforests, cloud forests, and abundant wildlife flourish year-round. Whether you visit during the drier months or the wet season, you'll have the chance to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of this Costa Rican treasure.

Braulio Carrillo National Park Packing List


  • Lightweight, breathable clothing such as T-shirts, shorts, and lightweight pants for warm and humid days.
  • Long-sleeve shirts and long pants for sun protection and to guard against insects, especially if hiking.
  • Sturdy hiking boots or comfortable walking shoes with good grip for exploring the park's trails.
  • Sandals or water shoes for river crossings and wet conditions.
  • Rain jacket or poncho for unexpected rain showers, especially if visiting during the wet season.
  • Hat and sunglasses for sun protection.
  • Swimsuit for swimming in natural pools or rivers.

Outdoor Gear:

  • Daypack or small backpack for carrying essentials during hikes and exploration.
  • Binoculars for wildlife and birdwatching.
  • Camera or smartphone with waterproof protection to capture memories.
  • Reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during outdoor activities.
  • Insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries for evening activities or cave exploration.

Cave Exploration Essentials:

  • Closed-toe shoes with good grip for cave exploration (if not renting specialized cave shoes).
  • Helmet with a headlamp attachment for guided cave tours.
  • Knee and elbow pads for added comfort while maneuvering through cave passages.
  • Spare clothes to change into after cave exploration, as it can be muddy and wet inside.

Travel Documents:

  • Passport and visa (if required).
  • Photocopies of important documents, stored separately from originals.
  • Travel insurance information.
  • Maps or GPS device for navigation if self-driving.

Personal Items:

  • Personal toiletries, including eco-friendly options to minimize your environmental impact.
  • Medications and a basic first-aid kit.
  • Any necessary prescription medications.
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with sun protection.
  • Travel-size hand sanitizer.

Money and Security:

  • Cash in the local currency (Costa Rican Colón) for small purchases and markets.
  • Credit/debit cards for larger expenses.
  • Travel wallet or money belt for added security.


  • Travel adapters and chargers for your electronic devices.
  • Power bank for keeping your devices charged on the go.


  • Spanish phrasebook or language translation app for communication.
  • Reusable shopping bags to reduce plastic waste.
  • Travel umbrella or lightweight rain poncho.
  • Sense of adventure and curiosity to fully embrace the beauty and challenges of Braulio Carrillo National Park!

Remember to adjust this packing list based on the specific season you'll be visiting and the activities you plan to engage in. With the right gear and essentials, you'll be well-prepared to explore the lush rainforests, cloud forests, and captivating wildlife of Braulio Carrillo National Park. Our Costa Rica packing list has plenty more ideas.

Fun Fact: Braulio Carrillo has the most significant elevation variance of any of the national parks in Costa Rica.  It ranges from 118 feet at the La Selva border all the way up to 9,514 feet at the summit of Barva Volcano.

Nearby Destinations

Sarapiqui 52 km
Turrialba85 km
San Jose 30 km
Alajuela45 km
Escazu37 km


Latitude: N 10° 14' 25.44"
Longitude: W 84° 0' 11.16"

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