Established in 1944, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in Belize is an enormous wilderness sanctuary located in central Belize. Measuring more than 106,000 acres (430 square kilometers) in size, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is home to vast stretches of broadleaf forest, grasslands, caves, mountain peaks, and the tallest waterfalls in all of Central America.
A popular destination thanks to its cooler climate and numerous swimming areas, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve looks much different than most other areas of Belize. Instead of palm trees and other tropical flora, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is composed of pine trees and broadleaf trees that are home to hundreds of different species of birds, including acorn woodpeckers and eastern bluebirds that are rarely found elsewhere in the country.
Popular attractions in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve include horseback treks, canoeing at Barton Creek, swimming in the pools at the base of Rio on Pools (a series of waterfalls), exploring Thousand Foot Falls (actually 1,600 feet high), and exploring the ruins of Caracol, one of the largest ancient Maya sites in the country and home to Belize's tallest pyramid.
As a protected natural area, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is renowned for its diversity of wildlife, including endangered species like Morelet's crocodiles, ocelots, white-nosed coatis, cougars, jaguars, and Baird's tapir (the national animal of Belize). Interesting bird species can be seen in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, including the endangered ocellated turkey, the enormous king vulture, the vividly colored keel-billed toucan, and the majestic orange-breasted falcon.
The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve was sparsely inhabited by the ancient Maya, and archeologists continue to uncover important relics in the area. Many artifacts have been found on high ledges along Barton Creek, and it is believed that the water source was an important area for religious observances. And the Barton Creek Cave extends for at least 4.5 miles (7.2 km) underground, some sections of which have never been explored by modern man.
Several Belize resorts are located inside the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, including some with exclusive access to hidden waterfalls and other areas of spectacular beauty.
Adventures in Belize (AIB) works with all of the best resorts located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. If you'd like to visit the beauty of this amazing natural area, book your vacation with Adventures in Belize.