Cordillera Mountains Attractions
Puerto Rico's Cordillera Central Mountains are made up of peaks and valleys, with heights rising 4000 ft / 1220 m. The highest point in Puerto Rico is Cerro de Punta, found in the Cordillera Central. The mountain range covers the central area of Puerto Rico, from the east coast to the west coast of the island. The Cordillera Central Mountains form a scenic setting for many of the island's towns. The climate in the mountains is often cooler and can be a pleasant escape from the coastal heat. Some visitors prefer to spend their time in the rolling his and country towns found in the Cordillera Central.
Looking for a scenic driving adventure while in Puerto Rico? The Panoramic Route (Ruta Panoramica) is a wonderful option. Stretching roughly over 190km / 120 miles, the Panoramic Route (Ruta Panoramica) is a combination of over 40 of Puerto Rico's secondary highways along the spine of the island's mountain range and through the Cordillera Central.It starts in Mayaguez on the West Coast and finishes up in Yabucoa in the Southeast. As the name Panoramic Route (Ruta Panoramica) suggests, the views are truly spectacular, be sure to bring lots of film or extra memory for your camera.Keep in mind this is a twisty mountain road and will take time to drive.
Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park and Museum, Utuado, Puerto Rico
Utuado is a small town founded in 1739. In this town is the Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park, an extremely important archaeological site displaying primitive engineering. Built by the Taíno Indians, the site dates back to 1100 AD and the Utuado Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park and museum includes ten Indian courts featuring monoliths and petroglyphs. The setting is amid limestone hills and also includes a museum in a landscaped park. The site is believed to have religious significance to the Taíno.Utuado Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park and museum is located two hours west of San Juan and the pleasant drive takes visitors through Puerto Rico's unique karst country.
Barranquitas, Puerto Rico
Situated on a mountainside and surrounded by vegetation, Barranquitas is the most charming of the mountain towns in Puerto Rico. However, the town has been destroyed several times by fire and hurricanes so the buildings date only from the first decades of the 20th C. Barrangquitas was founded in 1804.Many famous Puerto Ricans such as the island's first elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, were born in this town. The surrounding areas produce fruits and coffee.The main plaza in Barranquitas is a nice place to sit and people watch. This is also the home of famous Puerto Rican, Luis Munoz Rivera.
San Cristóbal Canyon
The San Cristobal Canyon (Canyon de San Cristobal) is a narrow fissure that cuts down more than 500ft/152m through the Central Cordillera Mountains. Also here is Puerto Rico's highest waterfall, the Río Usabón. The area boasts a variety of ecological zones at different elevations. The San Cristobal Canyon is now a protected area, used for research purposes and undergoing a reforestation project.One of the best ways to get a close up look at the canyon is to hire a guide and hike down. Hiking on your own is highly dangerous and not recommended. Without hiking it is still possible to see the dramatic cliff walls and waterfalls.
Black Bull Forest Reserve
The Black Bull Forest Reserve (Toro Negro Forestal Reserva) covers 7000ac/2834ha of land including Puerto Rico's highest peaks, including Cerro Punto, Puerto Rico's highest point. Most of the forest is second or third growth woods, as the lands were cultivated for coffee growth until reforestation began in the 1930s. While this is not a bird watching region (only 30 recorded species) there are more than 20 different types of frogs and reptiles and 8 species of bats to be found in the Black Bull Forest Reserve. The Doña Juana Recreation center offers a camping and picnic area, as well as maps for hiking trails.
Useful tips: The ranger station has irregular hours.
Cerro de Punta
Puerto Rico's highest peak, Cerro Punto, climbs 4389ft/ 2834m. It is located near the west end of the Black Bull Forest Reserve (Reserva Forestal Toro Negro). There is a trail that leads to the summit of Cerro Punto, north of Hwy 143. There is an observation platform that visitors can reach with great views. It is often described as the best view in Puerto Rico from the top of Cerro Punto.It is also possible to hike to the Cerro Punto summit via a path that leaves from Hacienda Gripiñas.
Carite Forest Reserve
Reserva Forestal Carite covers more than 6000ac / 2429ha of land in the Sierra de Cayey. Carite was established in 1935 by the Puerto Rican government in order to protect the watershed of the various rivers in the region from erosion. Carite features 25mi/40km of hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and at least 49 species of birds, including the native endangered mountain hawk.The Reserva Forestal Carite is located less than an hour from San Juan and makes a pleasant day trip to escape the heat and humidity of the lowlands. The Reserva Forestal Carite is the headwaters for three of Puerto Rico's rivers; the Rio Grande de Loíza, the Rio Grande de Patillas and the Rio de la Plata.
Adjuntas, Puerto Rico
The community of Adjuntas is known as the "town of the sleeping giant", a name derived from a nearby mountain. Founded in 1815, the town has seen thriving agricultural industries such as citron and coffee cultivation. Adjuntas' terrain is very mountainous due to its location in the Central Cordillera Mountains.Visitors will sometimes here the term "La Suiza de Puerto Rico" or the Switzerland of Puerto Rico, a comparison that might need some imagination. Nonetheless, Adjutas does have a mild climate throughout the year and can be a pleasant place to escape the heat.
Guilarte Forest and Guilarte Peak
The Guilarte Forest in the Bosque Estala de Guilarte consists of 3600ac/ 1457.5ha of land that is mostly rainforest. A hiking trail leads to the Guilarte Peak (3950ft/ 1204.3m), the seventh highest peak in Puerto Rico. This is the only path in the forest and takes about 30 minutes to complete.Not far by road from the park office is a scenic overlook. Check at the office for information on the park and other highlights in the area. There is accommodation in the Guilarte Forest. Guided tours through some of the rugged forest areas not accessible alone are also available.
Aibonito, Puerto Rico
Founded in 1824, Aibonito's name is a euphemism for the Spanish expression "Wow, how beautiful". The town is very scenic and has a perpetual spring-like temperature. The main industries are poultry and flower cultivation. An annual flower festival held in June is one of the town's highlights.Aibonito is also known for being the vacation destination of some of Puerto Rico's most wealthy families, as well as people of note, including politicians. It is one of the most popular mountain towns on the island, and also the highest town in Puerto Rico.
Festival of Flowers
Taking place at the end of June and running into the Fourth of July weekend, the Flower Festival (Festival de las flores) in Aibonito draws horticulturalists and flower lovers from across Puerto Rico and other parts of the world. Participants in the Flower Festival are primarily locals displaying their home grown flowers. There are also local vendors selling their wares and musicians playing in the streets.The Puerto Rico beauty pageant runs at the same time as the Flower Festival making this a fun time to be in Aibonito.
A group of large rocks lying on a hilltop, Mirador La Piedra Degetau offers views of mountainous Puerto Rico and the Atlantic and Caribbean Ocean. A lookout tower at Mirrador La Piedra Degetau adds some height and on clear days the view seems to extend forever. Located not far from Aibonito, this is definitely worth a stop for visitors who are in the area. There are shaded areas with picnic tables, as well as washroom facilities on site.