It is the most important and largest archaeological area so far discovered in the country. Guayabo is part of the cultural region known as the Central Intermontane and Atlantic Basin. It appears to have been occupied from the year 1000 B.C. although the local chiefdom developed most around 300 to 700 A.D. when the stone structures that can bee seen today were built. It would appear to have been abandoned around the year 1400 A.D.. guayabo held a prominent political and religious position, and in the surrounding area there were villages holding an estimated population of around 1,500 to 2,000 people.
The main architectonic features discovered to date, which number about 50, consist of roads, tiers or …. To compensate for the unevenness of the ground, retaining walls, bridges, mounds used as bases for dwellings, open and closed aqueducts, many of which are still operative, and the catchments tanks for storing water from the aqueducts.
The objects that most catch the visitors' attention are the monoliths and the petroglyphs. The latter are everywhere and some have as yet undeciphered symbols. Gold and ceramic objects and other archaeological pieces from the site are on exhibition at the National Museum.
The areas near the archaeological site present open secondary vegetation, the product of a former wood extraction operation. In the Guayabo River Canyon near the protected area there is an example of the high evergreen forests typical of the region, with trees like the elm (Ulmus mexicana) and the manni (Symphonia globulifera). There is little animal life due to the small area covered.
The birds are the most visible component. Amongst the ones that stand out for sheer numbers are keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) and the Montezuma oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma), White-nosed coatis (Nasua narica) and margay (Leopardus wiedii) are also frequently seen.
This National Monument is sited on the lower slopes of the Turrialba Volcano, 19 km north of the city of the same name. The offices are 50 m in front of the park entrance; this is the start of a path that goes down to the River Guayabo. In the Monument there is an archaeological research station, an exhibition room, a viewing point from which the whole archaeological area can be seen, and a picnic area with tables, toilets and drinking water.
There is a bus service between Turrialba and Colonia Guayabo, a town located 2 km before the Monument. In Turrialba there are hotels, restaurants and markets, and taxis can be hired. There are grocery stores in Colonia Guayabo.