Between the towns of Barranquitas and Aibonito, in the midst of the Central Mountain Range, where Aibonito, Piñonas and Usabón rivers interface, at an approximate depth of 700 feet, San Cristobal Canyon is found.
The estimated extension of the canyon is nine kilometers in length and five hundred feet wide, all along which, views of its amazing geological formations are accompanied by a great diversity of flora and fauna. In this tropical paradise you can carry out a diverse number of activities, such as, walks, rappelling, or taking pleasure of a day at the river between waterfalls, cascades, and pools.
The Canyon can be accessed from different routes depending on the level of difficulty desired and the length of time for your expedition. So, when you decide to visit the Canyon, make sure you select an option appropriate to your physical conditions. Among some of the stops that you will be able to enjoy are: Charco Azul (Blue Pool), salto Cabra (Goat Waterfall, when you sight it you will understand why only goats can climb those huge rocks), Cascada La Niebla ( The Fog Cascade, they say that its name is derived from the appearance it takes when the river grows and covers a great part of the area) and the trail Rompe alma (Break your soul trail), whose name literally falls short because it actually breaks more than your soul. In summary, the experience of visiting the Canyon is high adrenaline and you should live it, at least once.
This beautiful place was used as a waste dump site by various neighboring towns from 1954 till 1974. During your journey you find evidence of melted metals and other equipment. During 1914, the waters from this Canyon were used to move two hydro-turbines that generated electricity for the Municipality of Aibonito. San Cristobal Canyon is the largest in the Caribbean Region and has the greatest number of cascades island wide, in addition of being the highest free falling cascades, reaching up to 240 feet. A canyon is a topographic formation, which consists of a narrow and deep passage between the mountains. Its walls are form by scraper rock and almost always a current of water moves across the bottom. The Puerto Rico Conservation Trust maintains 1,252 acres of the Canyon as a protected area.
Las Bocas Canyon: Beyond San Cristóbal Canyon
Commonly, in Puerto Rico when we hear the word canyon we think of the San Cristobal Canyon. However, between the municipalities of Comerio and Barranquitas there is also a formation known as Las Bocas Canyon, place that wants to be conserved by a community base organization named Comité Pro Reserva Natural Cañón Las Bocas (Pro Canyon Las Bocas Natural Reserve Committee).The proposal to designate this geographic space as a natural reserve is in response of the importance of this ecosystem in the generation of goods and services to the Puerto Rican public. The bodies of water that pass through this complex topography generate daily two million gallons of water, of which 50% is treated in Las Bocas filtration plant for human consumption.
The secondary forests found in the Canyon, help remove thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, function as sponges preventing floods in lower lands, in addition to, serving as refuge to native species of flora and fauna, such as, the tachuelo, ceboruquillo, green lizard, pigmy lizard, Puerto Rican boa and the pigeon paloma sabanera. The last two, designated as endangered species. Las Bocas Canyon is located in one of karstic formation and among the oldest in Puerto Rico.
The limestone cliffs decorate the landscape, as well as, the presence of caves and bat populations. During guided adventures to the Canyon, you can visit the imposing ceiba tree referred to as the Ceiba Acostada (Lay down Ceiba), bathe in the Gran Cascade of an approximate height of 200 feet, and wonder through Butterfly Valley. During the night tour, emphasis is placed on the sighting of the cucubano, a glowing insect. Well then, another special place for adventure and conservation.
Recommendations for adventure at the Canyon
– Go with competent and experience personnel.
– Always use basic security rules for you and your family.
– Take snacks and water.
– Dress comfortably.
– Take a photo camera.
– Take garbage bags to dispose of all your trash.
– Avoid descending through loose or slippery rocks.
– Take care of the natural resources “leave your footprints and take away only your memories”.