Discover The Amazing Sights and Sounds of The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve on your Belize Vacation
Located deep within the western Cayo District of Belize is the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. First established in 1944 as Belize’s first national park, today the reserve measures more than 300 square miles and is home to pine trees, broadleaf trees, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, waterfalls and some of the most beautifully verdant hills and valleys in the country. The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is also home to Baird’s tapirs (Belize’s national animal), cougars, jaguars, ocelots and crocodiles, as well as dozens of native bird species like the ocellated turkey, keel-billed toucan and the red-lored parrot.
Thanks to its panoramic views, rich abundance of wildlife, and gorgeous waterfalls, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve has become one of the leading visitor destinations in Belize. One of the most popular attractions is Big Rock Falls, easily accessible after a modest hike over the granite boulders that gave the cataract its name. Plunging between 150-feet high rock banks, the water in Big Rock Falls lands in a distinctly round pool below.
Another popular attraction in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is called Rio on Pools. A series of smaller waterfalls cascade between boulders to form a network of small pools, one of the best places in Belize to enjoy a quick dip on a hot summer day. Endlessly photogenic, this area is one of the most scenic areas in the park.
Visitors to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve can also get the opportunity of visiting Thousand Foot Fall. Living up to its name, this waterfall is the highest in all of Central America, measuring a colossal 1,600 feet high. Adventurous visitors can follow the water downstream to enjoy a cool swim in the crystal clear pool at the base of the cataract.
From a Spanish term meaning “Cold River”, Rio Frio Cave is another very unique attraction inside the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. With an oversized natural theme, everything inside the cave is larger than life, including immense stalactites descending from the cathedral ceiling. At ground level, boulders larger than automobiles are strewn about at random and visitors to the cave will pass by a stream that flows through the cave, terminating in a series of waterfalls.