Irazu is highest volcano in Costa Rica, and on March 19th, 1963, it famously erupted on the day that US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy arrived for a state visit.
Irazú Volcano is located in the Canton of Oreamuno in the Province of Cartago, Costa Rica. It is about 20 kilometers southwest of Turrialba. From Juan Santamaria International Airport in the San Jose Central Valley region it is about two hours and fifteen minutes by car, and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia is just over five hours to the north.
Elevation & Size
The highest peak of Irazu is 3,432 meters from sea level, and this makes Irazú the highest volcano in Costa Rica with nearby Turrialba being the second highest. The total size of Irazú Volcano is 500 square kilometers (123,553 acres) which is massive.
Type of Volcano
Irazú Volcano is a complex shield volcano and a stratovolcano. It is around 14,000 years old, and it is considered a shield according to its shape. Shield volcanoes are usually large resembling a warrior’s shield on the ground. It is considered complex, because there are multiple craters that vent volcanic material. Stratovolcanoes are also traditionally conical in form, and build up over time.
The first eruption of Irazu Volcano that can be assessed with carbon dating occurred around 0640 BC. Since that early eruption, it has had many other events with the last being in 1994 on December 8th. Up until that point, Irazu had been pretty active with events occurring in 1977, 1963-1965 and 1939-1940.
Making the trek to Irazu Volcano is not difficult by car, and can be done in a day. Near to the summit there is a visitor center with information about volcanoes. There is also a small restaurant where snacks and drinks can be procured. The park has bathroom facilities and picnic tables, as well. On the trip up or down from Irazu there are several restaurants, eateries and bars that you could stop at for refreshment or a meal. On clear days, the Pacific and Caribbean can be observed from Irazu.
Location: Oreamuno Canton, Cartago Province, Costa Rica
Elevation: 3,432 meters
Size: 500 sq km
Type of Volcano: complex shield stratovolcano
Years of Activity: 0640 BC, 1994, 1977, 1963-1965, 1939-1940
Nearby Attractions: visitor center, hiking trails, restaurant, wildlife observation