Barva Volcano, Costa Rica
Costa Rica occupies the easternmost stretch of the Pacific Ring of Fire. A region where the continents bordering the Pacific Ocean experience the most volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
The ring of fire stretches from the coasts of South America, the United States, and North America, to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the South Pacific.
Costa Rica is a tiny country split down the middle by a chain of three volcanic mountain ranges. Barva Volcano is located on the Central Volcanic Range harboring three active volcanoes: Poas, Irazu, and Turrialba.
Visiting volcanoes is a classic Costa Rican pastime. In addition to their stark beauty, volcanoes – active and dormant – are fascinating.
Features of Costa Rica’s living mountains
Hot springs, healing clay, bubbling mud pots, steam vents, and fumaroles are just a few of the geothermal delights on display. Visitors looking for rest and rejuvenation come to soak away their ills and worries in Costa Rica’s thermal waters.
The massive rainforests, rivers, and deep canyons typical of the mountainous countryside provide an abundance of eco adventures for the young at heart. Canopy and zipline tours, whitewater rafting, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and gondola rides are on the menu – to name a few.
Barva Volcano National Park
The remarkable Barva Volcano is one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets. The formidable peak is the highest shield volcano in the country. It is one of three volcanoes in the Braulio Carrillo National Park.
How far is Barva Volcano from San Jose, Costa Rica?
Visiting Barva is an easy and enjoyable day trip from the Central Valley. It is located only 14 miles (26 km) northeast of San José in Heredia Province. The park entrance is located in Sacramento, just outside of the quaint towns of Barva and San José de la Montaña.
The highest volcano in the country
Barva occupies the highest point of the Braulio Carrillo Park at 9534 feet above sea level (2906m). Due to its dramatically steep terrain there are several different ecosystems in the park. Temperatures range between 37⁰ F and 76⁰ F ( 3⁰ and 24⁰ C).
The park’s topography is characterized by high mountains, dense forests, and deep canyons. Its high precipitation rate is evidenced by several picturesque lakes, lagoons, and rivers.
Is Barva Volcano active? Although accounts differ, the last confirmed eruption of Barva Volcano dated over 8,000 years ago. However, some scientists argue that the last time it explosively erupted was in the 1700s.
Since then there’s been very little volcanic activity registered. It could be just a matter of time before Barva reawakens. Recent and historical eruptions of the neighboring Poas, Turrialba, and Irazu volcanoes suggest Barva may be the next of Costa Rica’s mountains to shake things up.
Visiting Barva Volcano with Adobe Rent a Car
Due to its steep elevation and rugged road conditions, we recommend renting a 4×4 vehicle to visit Barva Volcano.
Barva Volcano is just over an hour from our Adobe SJO Airport office in Alajuela. Click here for driving directions.
It’s ok if your vacation to Costa Rica entails mainly smooth road conditions and you prefer a sedan or 2WD. You can still enjoy getting there by leaving your car in Sacramento and hiking in.
The ranger station is approximately 2 miles (3 km) from Sacramento along a scenic dirt road.
Barva Volcano entrance fee
Entrance rates to Barva are the following: $12 adults and $5 children for non-resident foreigners. And ¢1,000 adults and ¢500 children for Costa Rica citizens and residents. Camping is available seasonally.
Opening hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. throughout the year. To confirm park status and visitation hours, please visit Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) website.
NOTE: As of the writing of this article in October 2021, Barva Volcano National Park is temporarily closed until further notice.
Barva Volcano hikes
There are four hiking trails in the Barva sector of Braulio Carrillo National Park.
- Stag Horn Trail (Sendero Cacho de Venado): 1.2 miles (1.9 km). This is perhaps the most popular of Barva’s hiking options. The trail follows the base of the volcano past the picturesque Barva Lagoon.
- Vara Blanca Overlook Trail (Sendero Mirador Vara Blanc): 0.6 mile (1 km). This approximately 50-minute walk offers stunning overlooks and natural scenery.
- Volcanic CraterTrail (Sendero Laguna Barva): 1.8 miles (3 km). This somewhat longer trail has two impressive lookouts and views of the volcano’s crater and lagoon.
- Copey Lagoon Trail (Sendero Laguna Copey): 3 miles (5 km). This is Barva’s longest hike taking approximately three hours round trip. It culminates at the Copey Lagoon, a deep green lake surrounded by dense jungle.
The diversity of the park’s flora and fauna is impressive. Some 6,000 species of plants and 600 types of trees make up the region’s mostly primary forest. There are also an estimated 500 kinds of birds and animals such as wild cats, monkeys, Baird’s Tapir, peccaries, and several others.