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Mistico Park or Sky Walk/Adventures: Which Arenal Hanging Bridges Are The Best?

Mistico Park or Sky Walk/Adventures: Which Arenal Hanging Bridges Are The Best?

Last updated on June 29th, 2022 at 09:10 am EST

How to choose between the Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park and the Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

If you’ve decided to visit La Fortuna during your trip to Costa Rica, you’ve probably also decided to tour the hanging bridges while you’re there, and if so, you’re likely torn over which hanging bridges park to visit: the Mistico Park or Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park. The two attractions are popular enough to warrant exploring, yet similar enough that you can get away with visiting just one during your time in the Arenal area. The tough question, though, that we’ve spent 15+ years answering for travelers via emails, forum responses, and podcast interviews, is this: Which hanging bridges are the best in La Fortuna: the Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park or the Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park?

If you’re familiar with our blog, you already know that we rarely classify any one experience in Costa Rica as “the best” because the term is highly subjective. We know that the best for us may not be the best for you according to your individual wants, needs, and preferences. So, spoiler alert: the article below doesn’t pick one hanging bridge park over the other. Instead, the article below relays important information gathered from our multiple visits to both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park so you can quickly and easily compare and contrast the two properties, and decide for yourself which hanging bridges are the best for you to visit.

Before you pick a hanging bridge park, know this.

Before we get to comparing and contrasting the two parks according to the criteria covered below, know this: you cannot go wrong with either park. Not only are the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park popular attractions in the La Fortuna/Arenal area but they’re also two of Costa Rica’s top attractions that regularly receive rave reviews. Though one of the parks may suit your style and interests more than the other (our article below will help you determine that), neither is a bad choice.

Number of bridges, bridge length, and bridge height

When considering bridge quantity, length, and height, what matters most is the quantity, length, and height of a park’s suspension bridges, not the quantity, length, or height of a park’s non-suspension bridges. Suspension bridges provide the quintessential, sought-after “hanging bridges” experience, which entails moving through a forest on a bridge that’s suspended high above the forest floor. Non-suspension bridges, which are typically short, stationary, positioned just above the forest floor, and supported by metal beams beneath the bridge, aren’t considered hanging bridges. The photos above show the difference between a regular (non-suspension/hanging) bridge and a suspension/hanging bridge. The charts below, which detail bridge quantity, length, and height, reflect a park’s suspension/hanging bridges only.

Mistico Park’s Arenal Hanging Bridges: Number of bridges and bridge lengths

Total number of hanging bridges (excluding non-suspension bridges): 6 bridges

Arenal Bridge (formerly known as the Arenal View Bridge): 75 meters / 246 feet
Bully Tree Bridge (formerly known as the Pilon Tree Bridge): 53 meters / 174 feet
Waterfall Bridge: 92 meters / 302 feet
Anthill Bridge: 87 meters / 285 feet
Fer-De-Lance Bridge: 48 meters / 157 feet
Tayra Bridge: 97 meters / 318 feet

Total hanging bridges length (suspension bridges only): 452 meters / 1,482 feet traveled over 6 hanging bridges

Sky Adventures’s Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges: Number of bridges and bridge lengths

Total number of hanging bridges (excluding non-suspension bridges): 4 bridges

Guarumos Bridge (Bridge #1): 127 meters / 416 feet
El Yucon Bridge (Bridge #2): 143 meters / 470 feet
La Quebrada Bridge (Bridge #3): 136 meters / 446 feet
El Pizote Bridge (Bridge #4): 35 meters / 115 feet

Total hanging bridges length (suspension bridges only): 441 meters / 1,447 feet traveled over 4 hanging bridges

Note: In addition to their suspension/hanging bridges, the Mistico Park has 10 non-suspension/hanging bridges and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park has 4 non-suspension/hanging bridges. For this reason, you may see other resources indicate that the Mistico Park is home to 16 bridges and that Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park is home to 8 bridges. Remember, as explained above, the non-suspension bridges aren’t hanging bridges, so they shouldn’t influence your choice of a hanging bridges park.

Mistico Park’s Arenal Hanging Bridges: Bridge height

Arenal Bridge (formerly known as the Arenal View Bridge): 55 meters / 180 feet
Bully Tree Bridge (formerly known as the Pilon Tree Bridge): 21 meters / 69 feet
Waterfall Bridge: 45 meters / 148 feet
Anthill Bridge: 28 meters / 92 feet
Fer-De-Lance Bridge: 24 meters / 79 feet
Tayra Bridge: 24 meters / 79 feet

Maximum bridge height: 55 meters / 180 feet

Sky Adventures’s Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges: Bridge height

Guarumos Bridge (Bridge #1): 46 meters / 150 feet
El Yucon Bridge (Bridge #2): 70 meters / 230 feet
La Quebrada Bridge (Bridge #3): 20 meters / 66 feet
El Pizote Bridge (Bridge #4): 10 meters / 33 feet

Maximum bridge height: 70 meters / 230 feet

Nature trails and hike distance, duration, and conditions

The difference between the hanging bridge experience at the Mistico Park and the hanging bridge experience at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park is most obvious in the parks’ nature trails.

Mistico Park trails

At the Mistico Park, a series of nature trails loop around sections of the park, leading inclined and declined walks on concrete paths edged by a railing. Though the nature trails at this park have a constructed, touristic feel, they provide an opportunity to stroll around the rainforest leisurely and relatively hazard-free. Note, however, that the smooth paths can be slippery when wet.

Mistico Park Arenal Hanging Bridges trail map

At the Mistico Park, bathrooms are provided at the entrance/reception only. There are no bathrooms along the nature trail.

Arenal Sky Walk trails

At Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, one nature trail loops around the entire park, leading a hike through the rainforest that includes flat, uphill, and downhill sections (some climbing of stairs is required). The nature trail at this park is merely a clearing in the forest so it provides a more raw, authentic way to explore the rainforest. Note that although the trail is well-kept, natural hazards like tree roots and branches are encountered along the way, so keep an eye out for them.

Sky Adventures’s Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges trail map

At Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, bathrooms are provided at both the entrance/reception and partway along the nature trail (between the second and third bridges).

Nature trail comparison chart

Nature trails at the Mistico ParkNature trail at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park
Number of trails3; the main trail, a bird-watching trail, and an accessible trail1 large, circular trail
Trail distance3.2 kilometers (main trail)
1.5 kilometers (accessible trail)
Distance of bird-watching trail varies by route
4-kilometer loop
Number of hanging bridges encountered along the trail(s)All 6 hanging bridges are encountered along the main trail; 3 or 4 of the bridges are encountered along the bird-watching trail (depending on the route taken); 1 of the bridges is encountered along the accessible trailAll 4 hanging bridges are encountered along the trail

At the Mistico Park, you can choose to hike one or all of the nature trails. The trails overlap in areas, however, so you’ll cover some parts of the walk/hike twice if you opt to explore more than one trail.

At Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, you can choose to hike part or all of the 4-kilometer loop. Note that if you choose not to complete the entire loop, wherever you decide to stop, you’ll need to turn around and backtrack toward the entrance. Since the two best bridges at the Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park are the first two bridges, many people hike the first half of the loop, turn around, and hike back the way they came (both the Arenal Lake viewpoints and the waterfalls are encountered along this section of the trail). To hike where fewer visitors roam, complete the full loop; the second half of the trail is more remote and less frequented.

Guided hanging bridge tours

Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park run guided hanging bridge tours. At the Mistico Park, the experience is called the Natural History Walk. At Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, the experience is called the Sky Walk. Since Sky Adventures operates adventure parks in the La Fortuna/Arenal and Monteverde areas of Costa Rica, the Sky Walk tour in La Fortuna/Arenal is often referred to as the Arenal Sky Walk (in Monteverde, it’s known as the Monteverde Sky Walk) to minimize confusion.

Hanging bridge tour comparison chart

Hanging bridge tour at the Mistico ParkHanging bridge tour at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park
Guided hanging bridges tour costOriginal cost: $40.00 USD plus tax per adult (discount here)
Original cost: $30.00 USD plus tax per student/adolescent (discount here)
Original cost: $14.00 USD plus tax per child (discount here)
Original cost: $41.00 USD plus tax per adult (discount here)
Original cost: $33.00 USD plus tax per student/adolescent (discount here)
Original cost: $28.00 USD plus tax per child (discount here)
Tour available in these languages Spanish, English, FrenchSpanish, English
Guided hanging bridges tour times6:00am (bird-watching tour only), 8:00am, 9:00am, 10:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:30pm (twilight tour only), 6:00pm (night tour only) 7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2:00pm
Tour duration2.5 hours (guided tour)
1.5-2 hours (self-guided tour)
3 hours (guided tour)
2-2.5 hours (self-guided tour)
Minimum age requirementNoneNone
Tour reservation required?YesYes
Special attire required?Yes: no shoes with slits (such as Keen sandals) or open toes; long pants are required for participation in twilight tours and night tours onlyYes: no shoes with slits (such as Keen sandals) or open toes

Rainforest views

There is little difference between the rainforest views you’ll find at the Mistico Park and the rainforest views you’ll find at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, mainly because the two parks sit only 8 kilometers from one another as the crow flies. (By car, the parks are roughly a 15-minute drive from each other.) Both hanging bridge parks are lush and green, and they remain that way year-round. Both provide an opportunity to explore the treetop canopy and lay your eyes on some giant, jaw-dropping trees.

Rainforest views at the Mistico Park

Rainforest views at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Arenal Volcano views and Arenal Lake views

You can see the Arenal Volcano from both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park. At the Mistico Park, the best places to view the volcano are at the volcano viewpoint that’s located just behind the park’s reception, and at the park’s on-site restaurant. You can also see the volcano at a distance when crossing the park’s Arenal Bridge. If you plan to tour the Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, don’t miss the beautiful volcano view from the on-site restaurant. Additionally, if you intend to experience other on-site activities at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park beyond the Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges, including the Sky Tram Aerial Tram Ride or the Sky Trek Canopy Zip-Lining Tour, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular volcano views during those excursions, too.

The Mistico Park does not have a view of Arenal Lake, but you’ll drive past the lake for a few seconds on your way to and from the park. In contrast, Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park has not one but two viewpoints that showcase Arenal Lake. Both Arenal Lake viewpoints fall along the park’s trail and sit between the El Yucon and La Quebrada bridges.

Volcano views at the Mistico Park

Volcano views at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Waterfall views and river/stream views

Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park are home to at least one waterfall (Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park is blessed with two waterfalls), though the way you’ll access the waterfall at each park is different. At the Mistico Park, you’ll find the Blue Morpho Waterfall. At Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park are the El Encanto Waterfall and the Escondido Waterfall. In addition, while you tour the Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, you’ll hike past several equally beautiful and photogenic streams.

Waterfall and river/stream views at the Mistico Park

Access to the Blue Morpho Waterfall is off the Mistico Park‘s main trail. For this reason, the waterfall is often missed. From the main trail, a steep staircase (5-minute climb down, 10-minute climb back up) leads to a waterfall viewpoint where you can admire the cascade from behind a railing. If you’re not interested in seeing the waterfall or you’re not physically able to manage the steep steps, the visit to the waterfall can be skipped.

Waterfall and river/stream views at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

The neighboring El Encanto Waterfall and Escondido Waterfall fall along the one-and-only Arenal Sky Walk trail; you can’t miss them. They sit at the back of the park, roughly halfway around the trail’s loop. You’re welcome to visit the base of the El Encanto Waterfall. The Escondido Waterfall can only be seen at a distance from the non-suspension bridge near the El Encanto Waterfall.

Location and distance from La Fortuna

Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park sit on the outskirts of La Fortuna, west of the downtown core.

Where to find the Mistico Park’s Arenal Hanging Bridges

The Mistico Park’s Arenal Hanging Bridges are located on the property of the Mistico Park. The Mistico Park sits on the west side of the Arenal Volcano and the north side of Arenal Lake. It takes roughly 30 minutes to drive the 20-kilometer route from downtown La Fortuna to the Mistico Park.

Where to find Sky Adventures’s Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges

The Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges are located on the property of Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park. Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park sits on the west side of the Arenal Volcano and the south side of Arenal Lake. It takes roughly 30 minutes to drive the 22-kilometer route from downtown La Fortuna to Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park.

Road conditions (4×4 requirement) and parking

Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park are accessible by car. Unfortunately, neither park is reachable by public bus.

4×4 requirement: Mistico Park

Travel to the Mistico Park does not require a 4×4 vehicle. When arriving from downtown La Fortuna, the first 18 kilometers of the drive are on Road 142, the fully paved (albeit curvy) road that connects La Fortuna with Arenal Lake (and destinations beyond the lake). After you turn off Road 142 (at Arenal Lake), it’s a 2-kilometer, uphill/downhill drive on a brick road to the Mistico Park.

Parking at the Mistico Park

The Mistico Park has a large parking lot and provides free parking.

4×4 requirement: Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Travel to Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park does not require a 4×4 vehicle. When arriving from downtown La Fortuna, the first 15 kilometers of the drive are on Road 142, the fully paved (albeit curvy) road that connects La Fortuna with Arenal Lake (and destinations beyond the lake). After you turn off Road 142 (before Arenal Lake), it’s a 7-kilometer drive on a paved road to Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park.

Parking at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park has a large parking lot and provides free parking.

Transportation services (hotel pick-ups and drop-offs)

If you don’t plan to rent a car in Costa Rica, you can use hired transportation to reach either park. Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park provide their own hired transportation services, which function as shared shuttle services (i.e., the transportation service is shared with other travelers and is not private to your travel group).

Transportation services provided by the Mistico Park

The Mistico Park charges $19.00 USD per person plus tax to provide round-trip transportation to/from La Fortuna hotels. Hotels that fall outside of the park’s definition of “La Fortuna hotels” are charged at a higher rate.

Transportation services provided by Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park charges $17.00 USD per person plus tax to provide round-trip transportation to/from La Fortuna hotels. Hotels that fall outside of the park’s definition of “La Fortuna hotels” are charged at a higher rate.

Restaurants and dining

Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park have a restaurant on-site. Both restaurants provide an unobstructed view of the Arenal Volcano. From the restaurant at the Mistico Park, the volcano can be seen from a distance, but from the restaurant at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, the volcano appears much closer.

Dining services provided by the Mistico Park

The restaurant at the Mistico Park is named Sal & Pimienta. Hanging bridge tours at the Mistico Park do not automatically include a meal but you’re welcome to add one to your tour reservation at the cost of $15.00 USD per person, tax included. The meal served is a typical Costa Rican lunch, and a vegetarian option is available.

Dining services provided by Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

The restaurant at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park is named Restaurante Chill Out. Hanging bridge tours at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park do not automatically include a meal but you’re welcome to add one to your tour reservation at the cost of $20.00 USD per person, tax included. The meal served is a typical Costa Rican lunch, and a vegetarian option is available.

On-site tours and activities other than hanging bridges

Both the Mistico Park and Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park operate a variety of tours, either in addition to or in conjunction with their hanging bridge tours. Prices vary by tour. (Click here for discounts to all tours operated by the Mistico Park or click here for discounts for all tours operated by Sky Adventures.)

Optional, additional tours and activities at the Mistico Park

In addition to operating daytime hanging bridge tours, the Mistico Park operates early-morning bird-watching tours, late-afternoon twilight tours, and evening night tours on-site, each of which includes a visit to the hanging bridges. Some guided daytime hanging bridge tours include a visit to the park’s lovely, on-site Rufous Garden.

Optional, additional tours and activities at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park is the most well-known zip-lining park in La Fortuna; it operates the popular Sky Trek Canopy Zip-lining Tour. The park is also home to the Sky Tram Aerial Tram, and runs the obstacle course known as the Sky Limit Tour and the river tubing excursion known as the Sky River Drift Tour. If you want to couple hanging bridge exploration with a canopy zip-lining tour, an aerial tram ride, a river tubing tour, or an obstacle course run, you can do that at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park.

Other on-site facilities and amenities

What else you’ll find at the Mistico Park

What else you’ll find at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park

Arenal hanging bridge discounts

Our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc., has hundreds of adult, student, and child discounts for Costa Rica day tours, including discounts for tours at the Mistico Park and discounts for tours at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park. (We have discounts for Sky Adventures’s Monteverde Park, too.) If there’s a particular hanging bridge tour discount you’re looking for, please see the charts below.

Mistico Park versus Sky Walk/Adventures: A quick summary

The set of Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park has the greatest number of suspension/hanging bridges, two more than the Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park (i.e., 6 hanging bridges compared to 4 hanging bridges).

The set of Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park has the greatest number of waterfalls, one more than the Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park (i.e., 2 waterfalls compared to 1 waterfall). The Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges also provide views of Arenal Lake; the Mistico Park does not. Both parks provide views of the rainforest and the Arenal Volcano.

At 143 meters/470 feet long, the El Yucon Bridge (Bridge #2), part of the set of Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges found at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, is the longest hanging bridge in La Fortuna.

At 70 meters/230 feet high, the El Yucon Bridge (Bridge #2), part of the set of Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges found at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, is the highest hanging bridge in La Fortuna.

The Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park provide the easiest hiking experience and the most developed nature trails. They also provide a variety of trail options as opposed to the Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park, which has one principal nature trail.

The Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park provide a more natural, rugged (albeit not overly difficult) hiking experience. They also provide the longest nature trail, which takes more time to tour than the Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park.

Both parks are roughly the same distance from La Fortuna and have modern facilities, a restaurant on-site, and free parking. Both parks can also provide optional transportation services and additional on-site tours. Our sister site, Pura Vida! eh? Inc., has discounts for the Arenal Sky Walk Hanging Bridges at Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park and the Arenal Hanging Bridges at the Mistico Park. (See above for links to our hanging bridge tour discounts.)

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to the Mistico Park or Arenal Sky Adventures’s Arenal Park? If so, which park did you pick, and how was your visit?

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Mistico Park or Sky Walk/Adventures: Which Arenal Hanging Bridges Are The Best?
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Mistico Park or Sky Walk/Adventures: Which Arenal Hanging Bridges Are The Best?
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Looking for the best Arenal hanging bridges? We compare and contrast the Mistico Park bridges and the Arenal Sky Walk bridges.
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The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog
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