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Is the Road to Monteverde Paved?

a highway with a mountain in the backgroundIs the Road to Monteverde Paved? 

What is the actual condition of the road to Monteverde? Some people say that the road to Monteverde is paved, while others say it is only partly paved. Why is there so much confusion around this question? 

How is the road to Monteverde is one of the top questions people ask me when planning a trip to Monteverde, so in this post, I will clear the confusion mentioned above and give you a status update on the condition of the condition road. 

There Are Four Roads to Monteverde, But Only One is Completely Paved

The confusion mentioned above comes from the fact that there is no one road to Monteverde, so you will encounter a different scenario depending on which route you use. 

There are four main roads to get to Monteverde:

  • Route 145 through Las Juntas
  • Route 145 through Tilaran
  • Route 605 through Sarmiento
  • Route 606 through Sardinal

You can use route 145 through Las Juntas when you are coming from Guanacaste to Monteverde. In contrast, you can use Route 145 through Tilaran when coming from Arenal or La Fortuna, after going around the northern part of the lake.

On the other hand, you would use Routes 605 and 606 when you come to Monteverde from Manuel Antonio and San Jose, but you can also use them as an alternative to Route 145 through Las Juntas when coming from Guanacaste.

As of October 2021, the condition of the roads to Monteverde is the following: 

  • Route 605 is unpaved.
  • Route 145 is partially paved. 
  • Route 606 is completely paved. 

The local authorities maintain routes 145 and 605 periodically, with a material resembling asphalt, giving an impression that these roads are paved. However, this material only lasts for a couple of months. Then the potholes appear again until the next round of maintenance. 

On the other hand, Route 606, considered the main road to Monteverde, which goes from Highway 1 to Monteverde through Sardinal and Guacimal, is the only road to Monteverde officially paved. This road also suffers from heavy rains during the rainy season, especially during September and October. However, the asphalt on this road is more resistant, which translates to a more reliable route year-round. 

During the rest of this post, I will focus on getting to Monteverde using the main road, Route 606 from Highway 1, through Sardinal and Guacimal. 

If you are planning to use this route, keep scrolling to read more about the history of the road, why you may have heard horror stories from people who traveled it before the Government paved it, and a couple of pro tips from a local to avoid problems when driving this road. 

It Took 30 Years to See Route 606 Fully Paved

Route 606 through Sardinal and Guacimal is a 36-kilometer (22 miles) road from Highway 1 to Monteverde. The Costa Rican Government paved the first 19 kilometers (11.8 miles) from Highway 1 to Guacimal about three decades ago, in the early 1990s, because some of the slopes were incredibly challenging to climb even for 4×4 vehicles. 

I moved to Monteverde nearly a decade ago, so I never saw the condition of that portion of the road before the Government paved it. However, my friends, who have lived in Monteverde all their lives, tell me stories of how complicated it was to get to Monteverde back then. 

I remember how the bus from San Jose would sometimes get stuck in the mud, and we had to wait for hours to make it home. All travelers would help the bus driver by placing rocks underneath the wheels to gain traction.

Back then, the bus from San Jose took around seven hours on a good day to Monteverde. There was only one bus going from Monteverde to San Jose and one bus coming from San Jose to Monteverde.

We dreaded going to San Jose. We only went there when we needed to. For example, when teenagers turned 18, they needed to go to San Jose to get their national ID.

The bus left Monteverde at 4 am, and we arrived before noon. Next, we needed to quickly run our errands in San Jose, as most government offices close between 4 pm and 5 pm. Then, we needed to find a place to stay in San Jose for the night to pick up the next bus back to Monteverde the next day.”

Paving the first portion of Route 606 fixed the above issue for the most part. The first 19 kilometers (11.8 miles) paved reduced the travel time from San Jose to Monteverde from seven hours to five. 

However, it took three decades to approve the project to pave the remaining portion of Route 606 from Guacimal to Monteverde. While the locals proposed the idea based on the number of tourists who arrived at Monteverde in the 1990s, the Government denied the proposal based on the low population.

Our Monteverde population back then was insufficient, with less than 5,000 locals, which according to the local authorities, made it unfeasible for them to invest millions of dollars in paving the road. 

As the number of tourists spiked during the 2,000s and the community continued asking for a road, the Government started to consider the idea. 

Another blocker to the project to pave the remaining portion of Route 606 was a conflict of interest between the Quaker community and the rest of the Monteverde population. 

A group of Quakers migrated from Fairhope, Alabama, in the United States to Monteverde, Costa Rica, back in the 1940s to avoid participating in the Korean war. They came to Monteverde to find a more peaceful way of living. As such, they were also not inclined to the idea of fully paving Route 606 because that would result in more people coming to visit the area, potentially leading to a less peaceful environment. 

After conciliating the Quaker community with the rest of the locals in Monteverde and seeing how tourism was becoming a leading industry in the country, the Government approved the project to pave the remaining portion of Route 606 back in 2018. 

Then, the project started in mid-2019, finishing soon before the pandemic began, which turned out to be perfect timing because a new road was available as soon as the tourism world opened its doors again in 2020. 

How Long Does it Take to Get From Route 1 to Monteverde?

map

While the new road to Monteverde is not perfect, and the local authorities have to maintain it periodically, covering new potholes that arise with rain, it is far better than before. 

When I first moved to Monteverde, I was working from home for IBM, but I had to go to the office in San Jose from time to time. It would take me about 4 hours to get to the office, out of which 1.5 hours were only to cover the distance of those 17 kilometers of Route 606 paved in 2019. I had a Toyota Yaris back then, and I dreaded so much driving through that portion of the road. I felt like my car was devaluating way too much each time I went through that portion of the road. 

Here is a picture of how bad the road was coming to Monteverde from San Jose through Route 606 before the Government paved it: 

a car parked on the side of a mountain

Nowadays, with the paved road, it’s such a relief whenever I have to travel to San Jose, knowing that the portion of the road that used to take me one hour and a half now takes roughly 20 or 30 minutes at most. 

The 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) from Route 1 (Panamerican Highway) to Monteverde via Route 606 through Sardinal and Guacimal takes approximately a 50-minute drive. 

Now that we have clarified the confusion as to why some people say that the road to Monteverde is not paved, while others say it is, let me share with you a tip before you go; 

Warning: GPS Devices Might Send You Through Unpaved Roads

GPS devices such as Garmin gadgets and other online apps like Google Maps and Waze might take you through secondary unpaved roads. 

Some secondary unpaved roads can be extremely rough and even dangerous. So, if you are traveling from Route 1 to Monteverde through Route 606, stick to staying on Route 606. Do not take any shortcuts or deviate from Route 606 unless the way to your accommodation requires you to stray away from it. 

We’re coming to the end of this post. 

People Also Ask: Do you need a 4×4 to get to Monteverde?

People also ask about the other routes to get to Monteverde. After all, in this post, I focused on the main road to Monteverde, but as mentioned in the intro, this route primarily applies if you are coming from San Jose, Manuel Antonio, and the Pacific area. 

I will create a separate post to cover what you need to know if you are coming from Arenal, La Fortuna, or Guanacaste through Route 145, but for now, I will leave you with the following guidance; 

As a general rule, you do not need a 4×4 to get to Monteverde unless your accommodation is in a remote region or traveling to Monteverde via a non-primary road. 

Since the condition of those roads is constantly changing based on the maintenance schedules, the recommendation is to ask a local before embarking on those roads. 

Feel free to contact us, and we will happily provide you with the latest updates on the condition of the roads to Monteverde or any other questions you may have about the area. 

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About the Author

Daniel Lalinde holding a mountain bikeDaniel Lalinde

I am the founder of Monteverde Tours Online. I live in Monteverde, and I love nature, adventure, and Mountain Biking. My partner and I love spending time in the outdoors and dining out in Monteverde. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in the area, and there is no park, no coffee shop, and no restaurant we haven’t tried at least once!

We love helping visitors, connecting them with the different tours and activities to have a memorable experience in Monteverde.

If you need help planning things to do in the area, send us a message, and we will happily assist you!