Located at the crown of an extinct volcano about 50 mi/80 km northwest of San Salvador, Cerro Verde National Park, El Salvador, has good hiking in forest-covered mountains and spectacular views of Izalco Volcano and Coatepeque Crater Lake.
Cerro Verde park harbors many plants and birds, including 17 kinds of hummingbirds. Having an experienced and knowledgeable guide will add a lot to your visit. The Cerro Verde (Green Hill) mountain itself is 6,660 ft/2,030 m high and has two craters.
Nearby Izalco Volcano (6,183 ft/1,886 m) has a perfect black lava cone, with a beautiful crater. An easy trail leads to the summit. Izalco was known as the Lighthouse of the Pacific because of spectacular but benign eruptions that took place every 15 minutes for approximately 190 years. The last eruption took place in 1966, and now only wisps of smoke emerge from the cone. You can get a good look at Izalco from the Hotel de Montana, a lovely mountain lodge on top of Cerro Verde. (It was built so guests could watch the natural fireworks display at Izalco, but the volcanic activity ceased just as the hotel was completed.) Check in advance to make sure the hotel and glassed-in restaurant are open, since they close periodically.
Coatepeque Crater Lake has very deep, blue water. It's a popular weekend recreation spot, with hotels, public beaches and fishing. Also, near the park is the small town of Izalco, where many residents still wear traditional clothing.
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