Volcán Arenal was afforded protected status in 1995, becoming part of the national parks system as the PARQUE NACIONAL VOLCÁN ARENAL. Though Arenal is one of the most active volcanoes in the Americas, whether you see any lava flow depends very much on the weather. If you can’t see the summit, the park’s visitor centre has video displays of the volcano’s more spectacular activity – including its jaw-dropping night flows – and if nothing else, you’ll certainly hear unearthly rumbling and sporadically feel the ground shake, especially at night.
The park contains a few good trails, all accessed from the main park entrance, including the Lookout Point Trail(1.3km), from where you can watch molten lava ebbing down the hillside, and the Las Coladas Trail (2.8km), which heads southeast to a lava flow from 1992. The Los Tucanes Trail (4km), also accessed off the road up to theArenal Observatory Lodge, takes you to the part of the forest that was flattened by the 1968 eruption. You may see some wildlife on these hikes; birds (including oropéndolas and tanagers) and agoutis are particularly common. Although the park has a simple café, it’s best to take a picnic lunch and plenty of water if you intend to walk extensively.