1. Cotopaxi National Park is high tundra or, in Spanish el paramo. It reminded us of many parts of Alaska.

Original Sign, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

The back entrance on the North side reminded us of Alaska – dirt/gravel roads, tundra-like rolling hills, and rusted out entrance signs.

2. No matter the season, be prepared for extreme weather changes. The mountain can be dangerous.

Layers and layers of cloud, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

Layers and layers of clouds prevent us from seeing the top of Cotopaxi. Yet people are still choosing to hike to the Refugio.

3. Take pictures all the time because you never know when the clouds obliterate the view.

Fast Moving Clouds, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

Fast moving clouds threaten to engulf us for the third or fourth time that day.

4. Rock formations await nicknames.

Strange Rock Formation, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

We called this one The Gorilla though he could easily be King Kong.

5. Walk quietly and you’ll see more wildlife.

A rabbit, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

There were several rabbits to be seen on the trail at Limpiopungo.

6. Walk too quietly and you might surprise a bull around the corner of the trail. Always be aware of your surroundings. Cattle and horses roam free but are not necessarily tame.

A Bull, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

A bull guarding the trail at Limpiopungo. We decided the intelligent decision was to hike off trail at this point.

7. Just because you see wildlife doesn’t mean it is really wild.

Feral Dog, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

A feral dog on the backside of Cotopaxi National Park, well away from any sign of a home.

8. Just because it’s a park, it doesn’t mean you can do park things everywhere.

Sign, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

Unfortunately, we saw signs that each of these forbidden activities had taken place at this exact same site.

9. Cotopaxi National Park is more than just a mountain.

Lava Flow, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

Lava flows on the backside of the park just beg to be explored (can you see my son standing in the picture)?

10. Some of the best views of the mountain are found on the far side of the park where roads are more like dirt paths and it’s hard to tell if you’re actually going anywhere other than “out there.” This is truly a wild part of Ecuador.

Cotopaxi, Cotopaxi National Park, Chimborazo Province, Ecuador

The mountain, daring to reveal itself, as seen from a hilltop near the Manantiales natural springs.