Mountain Ranges of Costa Rica

Mountain Ranges of Costa Rica

Mon, 06/13/2022 - 21:42

Two chains of mountain ranges run from northwest to southeast, almost the entire length of Costa Rica. Running from the northwest to the central part of the country is the Cordillera Volcánica Central, which is noted for its volcanic activity. From the south-central to the southeast is the Cordillera de Talamanca.

Mountain Ranges of Costa Rica

Two chains of mountain ranges run from northwest to southeast, almost the entire length of Costa Rica. Running from the northwest to the central part of the country is the Cordillera Volcánica Central, which is noted for its volcanic activity. From the south-central to the southeast is the Cordillera de Talamanca.

Cordillera Volcánica Central

Cordillera de Talamanca

Map of Costa Rica's main mountain ranges: Talamanca, Central volcanic, Tilarán and Guanacaste

Map of Costa Rica's main mountain ranges: Guanacaste, Tilarán, Central and Talamanca (via ResearchGate)

Cordillera Volcánica Central

The Cordillera Volcánica Central (Central Volcanic Range) can be divided into three sub-ranges, from northwest to southeast: the Cordillera de Guanacaste, the Cordillera de Tilarán and the Cordillera Central.

Two of the highest peaks in the Cordillera Volcánica, Irazú and Poás, have paved roads reaching their active craters' rims. These volcanoes overlook the Central Valley (Valle Central).

Cordillera de Guanacaste

The Cordillera de Guanacaste is a volcanic mountain range in northwestern Costa Rica, near the border with Nicaragua. It is the northernmost range in the Cordillera Volcánica Central as well as the country of Costa Rica. The mountain range forms part of the southern region of the Continental Divide and extends 113 km (70 mi) northwest-southeast. It contains mostly complex stratovolcanoes and reaches a high point at the dormant Miravalles Volcano at 2,020 m (6,627 ft).

Cordillera de Tilarán

Located in the northwest of the county, it is one of the two subdivisions of the Cordillera de Guanacaste, the other being the Cordillera Central. The Arenal Volcano is located in this range.

Cordillera Central

The Cordillera Central is formed by five main stratovolcanic complexes in a general east-west direction: Platanar, Poás, Barva, Irazú and Turrialba. Located in the center of the county, the Cordillera Central is one of the two subdivisions of the Cordillera de Guanacaste, the other being the Cordillera de Tilarán.

Cordillera de Talamanca

The Cordillera de Talamanca, in southern Costa Rica, stretches from southwest of San José to beyond the border with Panama. It contains the highest peaks in both Costa Rica and Panama:

  • Costa Rica’s highest point, Mount Chirripó at 3,821 m (12,536 ft)

  • Panama's highest point, Volcán Barú at 3,474 m (11,398 ft)

This spectacular mountain range rises from sea level on the Caribbean side to over 3,650 m (12,000 ft) and then drops back down to the Valle del General on the Pacific side.

Active Volcanoes

The Cordillera Volcánica Central includes six active volcanoes. Three active volcanoes are located in the Cordillera de Guanacaste:

Three active volcanoes are located in the Cordillera Central:

Volcano map of Costa Rica

Map of active and inactive volcanos throughout the Cordillera Volcánica Central in Costa Rica

Protected Areas

Numerous protected areas are located within Costa Rica's mountain systems. They include the following:

La Amistad Biosphere Reserve and International Park

Barbilla National Park

Tapantí - Macizo de la Muerte National Park

Los Quetzales National Park

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Savegre Biosphere Reserve

Cordillera Volcánica Central Biosphere Reserve

Poás Volcano National Park

Braulio Carrillo National Park

Irazú Volcano National Park

Turrialba Volcano National Park

Chirripó National Park