Chagres National Park is located within Panama Province and Colon Province, and covers approximately 320,000 acres of area whose primary purpose it to protect the water sources important to the Panama Canal and Panama City. Forty to eighty percent of the water in the canal and most of Panama City’s, Colon’s and La Chorrera’s drinking water is supplied from this region. The Chagres River also supplies electricity for Panama City and Colon.
The park encompasses steep mountain terrain, lakes, rivers and tropical forests. Lake Alajuela is a major lake in this park, and it serves to regulate the water level in Lake Gatun. A tribe of the Embera Indians lives at the upper reaches of Lake Alajuela. The highest point in the park is Cerro Jefe, which rises 3,300 feet above sea level. Other major peaks include Cerro Bruja and Cerro Azul.
Chagres National Park is also home to a considerable wealth of wildlife including salamanders, a large tapir population, harpy eagles, jaguars and four other feline species found in Panama. Birds found in this area include the stripe-cheeked woodpecker and the Tacarcuna bush tanager. The rivers in the park are also the habitat for over 59 species of freshwater fish, otters, caimans and crocodiles.
Chagres National Park is close to the cities of Panama City and Colon, so day trips here are possible. There are a wealth of rivers throughout the park, including the Chagres, Pequeni and Boqueron, which provide many opportunities for white water rafting. The numerous lakes provide excellent fishing, water-skiing, jet skiing, sailing and swimming adventures. Camping is allowed throughout the park, which is a unique opportunity to spend a night in a tropical forest.