Cotopaxi National Park

Ecuador South America icon South America

Cotopaxi National Park is located in the central region of Ecuador found with the Andes Mountains. The national park boundaries encompass an area of 128.9 square miles (333.9 sq km).

Cotopaxi is the second-highest peak in the country with a height of 19,347 feet (5,897 m). This makes it one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. It is a stratovolcano located within the Andes Mountains.

Although still considered an active volcano, the last eruption occurred ended in January 2016. Ruminawi volcano and Sincholagua volcano are neighboring dormant volcanoes further creating a stunning volcanic landscape for travelers. These are all part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Cotopaxi is a spectacular volcano displaying a nearly symmetrical cone shape that rises 12, 470 feet (3,800 m) from its base. The picturesque snow-capped volcano mountain features one of the few glaciers along the equator.

A crater with a depth of 820 feet (250 m) sits atop of Cotopaxi. The crater is 2,624 x 1,804 feet (800 x 550 m) wide with two separate cone rims found along the perimeter.

Cotopaxi Highlights

Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the best representations of a symmetrical cone shape. The snow-capped mountain provides viewers with an amazing photographic landscape. The more adventurous can look to trek up the mountain.


Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano located in Ecuador.  It is situated in the Andes Mountains about a half-hour outside of Quito. Although it competes with Galapagos National Park, it is one of the most iconic natural attractions of the country.  The mountain can be seen from Quito on a clear day and beckons visitors to come to see and explore.

Trails in Cotopaxi National Park

Mountain Ascent: It is roughly an 80-minute hike up the base of the mountain to the ascent launch. There is a place to spend a part of the evening resting to prepare for the overnight ascent. The trek up the mountain takes about 6 hours with most hikers heading up around 12:30 am which places them at the summit around 7:30. 

This is not a technical climb, but it is challenging, and the elevation change often takes out climbers from completing the ascent because of problems acclimating. About half of all attempts succeed.

Cotopaxi Trial: This is a difficult rated trail with an elevation gain for 4,140 feet (1,261 m) while covering a distance of 4.5 miles (7.24 km).  The good news is it is downhill on the way back.  The trail travels the face of Cotopaxi out to the Base Camp area.  Many people just make this trip versus the complete ascent to the summit.  It is a great way to experience and see this volcanic mountain.

Cerro Ruminahui Trail: This is another trail that is rated difficult because of the terrain and altitude gain.  The trail travels 7.1-miles (11.4 km) to the summit providing panoramic views of the area below as well as overlooking a lake along the way. It features an elevation gain of 2,828 feet (862 m).

Laguna Limpiopungo Trail: This is a 1.6-mile (2.6 km) trail that meanders around the lake providing views of Cotopaxi while providing potential views of migrating waterfowl that leverage the lake.

Cotopaxi Highlights

  • Cotopaxi volcano
  • Andes Mountains


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