Las Cruces Biological Station Print
Learn More about Las Cruces Biological Station


Las Cruces is located at 1200 m above sea level along a spur of the Fila Cruces pacific coastal range in Coto Brus County in southern Costa Rica (8° 47' 7'' N, 82° 57' 32'' W). It is just under 300 km by road from the capital San José, and is 5 km from the Panamanian border by line of sight (10 km by road).


The station is a mid-elevation site, and protects more than 300 hectares of Premontane Wet Forest habitat according to the Holdridge classification system, some 200 of which are primary forest. The station receives ~4 m of rainfall annually and harbors a distinct dry season from January – March; mean diurnal temperature ranges from 13-26° C. The topography is very rugged and elevation ranges from 1000-1400 m, which allows for high diversity of flora and fauna – including an estimated 2,000 species of plants, more than 400 birds and 113 mammal species.

The station is also home to the Wilson Botanical Garden – the most famous botanical garden in Central America. The garden features beautifully diverse plantings of tropical and subtropical ornamentals, representatives of unusual plant families, and rare and endangered plants from Costa Rica and elsewhere. The garden also boasts the second largest collection of palms in the world. Particularly well represented groups include ferns, aroids, bromeliads, gingers, heliconias, marantas, and of course palms.


Las Cruces was founded in 1962 by Robert and Catherine Wilson, primarily as a botanical center and nursery, and as an experimental farm. It was acquired by OTS in 1973 and without losing sight of its original focus, has over the years expanded to develop a strong reputation in tropical research, particularly in applied fields such as conservation biology and restoration. More than 750 publications are attributed to research that has been conducted at the station over the last few decades.


By road from San José, take the Pan-American highway south to San Isidro (also known as Pérez Zeledón; 2-3 hours). Continue on the Pan-American to the turn off for San Vito (1.5-2 hours) at a small intersection called Paso Real (kilometer marker 221). From San Vito, the station is an additional 6 km south along the road to the town of Agua Buena (total travel time from San José ranges from 5-7 hours).

By air, the closest airport is Golfito (several flights/day). From there, a taxi can be hired to take you to the station (1.5 hours).


Important documents
Las Cruces Emergency Protocol ( PDF document 1.48MB )
Las Alturas Emergency Protocol ( PDF document 270KB )
User's Guide to Las Cruces ( Word document 920 KB )
Operations Manual ( Word document 1.00 MB )
OTS Research Permit Application Form
LCBS Herbarium Collecting Protocol ( Word document 233 KB )
Last Updated ( 07/05/16 )
Organization for Tropical Studies
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