You couldn’t ask for a better way to explore Cordillera Central than to drive this 167-mile route from Mayagüez on the west coast to Yabucoa on the southeast coast. The route takes visitors to breathtaking heights on the island’s highest peaks, revealing panoramic views of both the Atlantic and the Caribbean, as well as the dramatic mountains and valleys that make up the island’s spine. Parts of the route are so remote you may not see another car for miles.

Travel map of Cordillera Central, Puerto Rico

Cordillera Central

Cayey, Orocovis, Morovis, Jayuya, Utuado, and Adjuntas are the best bets for dining.The well-maintained, well-marked, two-lane route traverses a network of secondary roads beginning on Carretera 105 in Mayagüez and ending on Carretera 182 in Yabucoa. It’s clearly marked on most maps, including the ubiquitous tourist map ( available at businesses throughout the island.

From end to end, the journey takes about six hours, not including stops, so plan to spend two days to see all the landscape has to offer.

Highlights along the way include Reserva Forestal de Carite in Cayey, Mirador Piedra Degetau in Aibonito, Mirador Orocovis-Villalba, Bosque Estatal de Toro Negro in Jayuya, and Bosque Estatal de Maricao.

The gorgeous mountain view near El Toro Negro forest, Puerto Rico.

The gorgeous view near El Toro Negro forest, Jayuya, Puerto Rico. Can you see the ocean? Photo © Steven Isaacson, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike.

Most towns have at least one gas station. Cayey, Orocovis, Morovis, Jayuya, Utuado, and Adjuntas are the best bets for dining. Accommodations are hard to come by; Jayuya and Utuado have the best options.

If you only want to explore part of the route, drive the Carretera 143 leg between Adjuntas and Barranquitas, which traverses the island’s highest mountains. The 42-mile route takes about 1.5 hours to drive.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Puerto Rico.