Mountain Pine Ridge and Rio On

Belize Travel Blog

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Rio Frio, Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize, on the way to Caracol maya ruins.
One of the highlights of driving to Caracol is that you pass through Mountain Pine Ridge.  I remember the first time I saw this area of Belize and was highly surprised to find a large pine forest in the middle of a tropical, Central American country.  When I lived in Belize, from 2001-'03 there had a been a really bad infestation of Pine Beetles that had killed the vast majority of the pines so that the MPR looked like a forest of toothpicks.  It was actually pretty depressing at the time.  So, upon my return, 4 years later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the forest looked good, and that although there was still evidence of the parasitic catastrophe, the pines were recovering quite well.
Swimming in the Rio On is a nice way to cool off from the tropic heat.


Within the MPR, the Rio On flows through canyons, over waterfalls, and among rocks where in some places it is very popular to swim.  What is called the Rio On Pools makes for a thoroughly refreshing stop on the way back from a hot day of activities.  They aren't big or deep, so the attraction isn't swimming or diving, but just wallowing and cooling off and enjoying the beautiful views.

Besides the river, and the various caves that can be found in the area, like the Rio Frio Cave, there is also the MPR Station where you can find a cabin to sleep in, and hiking trails to enjoy.  This is also a really good area for birding and other wildlife viewing, because, like Maya sites, the clearing surrounded by forest offers a good change in habitat, making sightings of mammals and birds a common occurrence.
Mountain Pine Ridge, Cayo District, Belize
  During my Technical Training phase before I swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, we camped here and had the opportunity to spend a morning birding with Philip Balderamos, one of the country's top birders and National Coordinator for the Global Environmental Facility-Small Grant Programme of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP GEF-SGP) for Belize.

Mountain Pine Ridge is another site worth visiting while in the Cayo District.  Francis Ford Coppola has one of his two Belizean resorts here, and we had the opportunity to stop one morning and have a drink on the deck overlooking Big Rock Falls.  I wanted a Bloody Mary while we were there and after spending 15 minutes trying to locate some mix, the bartender finally came back and told me that it was offseason and because Sophia wouldn't be back for another couple of months, they had no Bloody Mary mix in stock.  So I had an espresso.
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Rio Frio, Mountain Pine Ridge, Bel…
Rio Frio, Mountain Pine Ridge, Be…
Swimming in the Rio On is a nice w…
Swimming in the Rio On is a nice …
Mountain Pine Ridge, Cayo District…
Mountain Pine Ridge, Cayo Distric…
I love Belize!
I love Belize!
Live up!
Live up!
Rio On Pools, Mountain Pine Ridge,…
Rio On Pools, Mountain Pine Ridge…
Pineapple in Mountain Pine Ridge.
Pineapple in Mountain Pine Ridge.