Cotopaxi Overview

Cotopaxi National Park, nestled in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes, is a majestic landscape dominated by the towering Cotopaxi Volcano, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes. Established in 1975, the park covers an area of approximately 333 square kilometers (about 129 square miles), offering a breathtaking array of natural wonders, from its namesake volcano to vast paramo grasslands, wildflower-strewn plains, and pristine mountain lakes. Located just 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) south of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, the park is a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking adventure and natural beauty.

Cotopaxi itself rises to an impressive height of 5,897 meters (19,347 feet), its perfectly symmetrical cone covered in a gleaming cap of snow that can be seen from Quito on clear days. The volcano is not only a stunning sight to behold but also a beacon for mountaineers from around the world who come to challenge its icy slopes.

Beyond the allure of Cotopaxi, the park is home to diverse ecosystems that support a wide range of wildlife, including Andean foxes, white-tailed deer, spectacled bears, and several species of birds such as the Andean condor and the carunculated caracara. The park’s unique paramo ecosystem, a high-altitude grassland, is particularly important for its role in water regulation and its biodiversity.

Cotopaxi National Park offers numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore its varied landscapes, from the volcanic foothills to the Limpiopungo Lagoon, where reflections of the volcano shimmer in the water. For those seeking a less strenuous experience, scenic drives through the park reveal its dramatic vistas and the chance to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.

The park serves as a vital conservation area, preserving the unique flora and fauna of the Ecuadorian Andes and offering an escape into one of the most dramatic and accessible high-mountain environments in the world.

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Park Map
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Cotopaxi National Park Pictures