Located in the Observatory Visitor Center, The Observatory Museum at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Trails is the perfect place to learn about the rich natural history of Costa Rica and the area surrounding the Arenal Volcano National Park. The Observatory Museum’s installations provide insight into the past of the Arenal Volcano, Cerro Chato, and Lake Arenal Dam, as well as, publications and photos which help guests gain a deeper appreciation for the flora and fauna of the region.

At the Observatory Museum’s center, a descriptive timeline of the history of the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Trails allows visitors the opportunity to learn about the hotel’s historical beginning as a research station for volcanologists. The timeline begins in the early 1970s when Smithsonian Institution scientists were housed in simple cabins on the property’s farm. Over time the spectacularly active Arenal Volcano continued to attract researchers, allowing the eco-lodge to grow to meet the additional demand. Scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, Earth-watch Institute, the Organization of Tropical Studies, OVSICORI (Costa Rica Observatory of Volcanology & Seismology), and the University of California have all conducted environmental studies at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Trails. The combination of rich ecosystems found at the Observatory Lodge, and its close yet safe proximity to Arenal Volcano, is one of the reasons the property is so appealing to a wide range of volcanologists, biologists, botanists, and geologists.

In the Observatory Museum, there is an abundance of content to be enjoyed, including a two-hour film documenting the history of the Costa Rican Electrical Institute’s (ICE) Arenal Hydroelectric Project. This project involved the construction of a dam and the creation of Lake Arenal, a man-made reservoir covering an area of approximately 85 square kilometers. The hydraulic energy produced by the Arenal Hydroelectric Dam now accounts for roughly 12% of Costa Rica’s total energy production.

Additionally, you can see the current seismic activity happening at Arenal Volcano on the seismograph that is actively monitoring the volcano. Currently, this data is being remotely monitored by OVSICORI.


Everyday from 8:00am to 8:00pm

(Self-guided Tour)