The Arenal Volcano is an active volcano after erupting the last time in 1968. We stayed almost two miles away, and we had great views of the volcano from our room and the restaurant in the lodge. The first time we heard lava rocks falling down the side of the volcano, we were sitting on the porch in the rain and we thought it might be thunder! It sounded a bit like thunder, but definitely like large rocks rolling down a rocky hill.
When we were driving up to the volcano, we came from La Fortuna and had to drive around the volcano to get to the Arenal Observatory Lodge, where we were staying. We saw some places where the vegetation had been burned away by lava and some areas where there were still trees growing.
Some of the best viewing was at night, because the lava rocks that were falling down were burning orange and sparks would fly off when they crashed into the ground on each bounce. It was pretty cool to see. During the day, we could see smoke puffs each time the rocks bounced, and it looked a little like stair steps sometimes. It was very difficult to get pictures, but it was so cool to just sit there and watch it.