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|Elevation||1,140 m (3,740 ft)|
|Parent range||Guanacaste Cordillera|
|Last eruption||~3500 years ago|
Chato Volcano, sometimes called "Cerro Chato" (Spanish for "Flat Hill"), is an inactive volcano in north-western Costa Rica north-west of San José, in the province of Alajuela, canton of San Carlos, and district of La Fortuna. It is southeast of the nearby Arenal Volcano.
It is believed Cerro Chato first erupted 38,000 years ago during the Pleistocene period and last erupted about 3,500 years ago. One of the lava flows is now the route for La Fortuna Waterfall. The hill has two peaks, named Chatito (little Chato) and Espina (Thorn). A crater about 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide is filled with green water, making the Laguna Cerro Chato.
The Costa Rican government has closed the trail to Cerro Chato making it illegal to climb. This law was passed in 1998 but was not enforced until 2017, encouraging hikers, tour operators and business owners to sell this attraction and tour. When it was open it was considered a difficult hike and only recommended for hikers of good physical condition. When it rains, the path becomes muddy and can make it even more treacherous, especially when descending into the crater itself. The environmental damage the illegal hiking has created is the main cause of the closure.
There is barb wire in all Cerro Chato entrances as of 2017 and at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa they have a guard to turn hikers back.
- [ Profile of Chato Volcano at Costa Rica's Seismic National Network]
- Basic limnology of fifty-one lakes in Costa Rica (contains some information on Laguna Cerro Chato)
- "Arenal". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.