The Wild Road to Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica

Cerro de la Muerte is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.341m (10,961ft) above the sea level located in the province of San José in Costa Rica. It’s the highest point in the Central American section of the Pan-American Highway.

Cerro de la Muerte

Is the road to Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica paved?

The road to the summit, also known as Cerro Buenavista, is paved, but filled with steep curves and potholes. It’s called Ruta 2, part of the Pan-American Highway. The pass is located on the way from Cartago towards San Isidro de El General, in the southern part of the province of San José. The name of the pass means "Mountain of Death", since many travelers succumbed to the cold and rain in the past. This part of the highway has excessive potholes, steep, narrow curves, and plenty of fog, going through different various climates and temperatures. The drive is riddled with blind corners, hair-raising cliffs and careless drivers who take huge risks to overtake slower road users. It’s dangerous drive and the highway is dotted with roadside crosses which mark the spots where people have perished.

Is Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica worth it?

The scenery at the top of Cerro de la Muerte is breathtaking. The summit provides exquisite panoramic views of the Cordillera de Talamanca. On a clear day visitors will be able to look out across the lush jungle to see the Pacific Ocean on the background.

Is the road to Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica open?

Set high in the Talamanca range, the road is usually open all year round. But flash floods and landslides as well as narrow curves and steep cliffs make the pass extremely dangerous. It gets dangerous during rains, and the route tends to get slippery. The peak can be extremely windy, and warm clothes are important for the high altitude.
A minor gravel road to the south of the pass climbs up to the real peak, at 3.470m (11,384ft) above the sea level, with its cluster of aerials telecommunications.
Pic: Gianfranco Vivi