The backbone of this park is the Cordillera de Talamanca, which not only includes the peaks of the Chirripó massif but has many mountains higher than 3000m. The thickly forested northern Caribbean slopes and southern Pacific slopes of the Talamancas are also protected in the park, but it is only on the Pacific side that ranger stations are found.
Combined with two adjoining national parks and a host of indigenous and biological reserves, La Amistad is part of a huge biological corridor protecting a great variety of tropical habitats. Above 3200m, the landscape is characterized by the shrubby, stunted vegetation of the páramo, while slightly lower altitudes yield impressive oaks and the thick vegetation of the cloud forest. The lowlands of the Talamanca valley are fertile rain forest – a canopy of cedar, cypress and oak trees, with a thick undergrowth of palms, ferns and epiphytes.
This diversity of altitude and habitat creates unprecedented biological diversity, thus attracting the attention of ecologists and conservationists worldwide. In 1982 Unesco declared La Amistad to be a Biosphere Reserve, and in 1983 it was given the status of a World Heritage Site