Discover El Yunque History in the Río Espíritu Santo
Why is it that we never make the time to see the stuff that is closest to our own homes?
We travel all over the island exploring and seeking out all sorts of cool things, yet we had never managed to stop to see the pre-Columbian petroglyphs that we drive right past multiple times every week.
Seriously … the area we have lived in for the past 8 years is called Cara de Indio (literally translates to Face of the Indian) due to a bunch of petroglyphs in the river that our road crosses over. Yet we had never stopped to see them. But every time we cross the bridge we say “You know what we should do …”.
We finally we made a point to just stop at the bridge and check out these pieces of local history. They were easy to find, and there was a nice pool just below below them for enjoying a cool day in the river.
The El Yunque area has multiple sites that have pre-Columbian petroglyphs. Some of them are on private property and/or are hard to get to. But “our” petroglyphs are located just off the road, in the river. They can be quick stop while in the rain forest area.
We knew these etchings were there, but we weren’t sure exactly where they were. But, as it turns out, they are very close to the road, just downstream from the bridge that crosses the Río Espíritu Santo.
Once in the river, there is a large rock in the middle, just to the north of the bridge. The petroglyphs are on the north and west side of this rock. There are supposedly 14 or 16 of them, though we were able to locate about 8 or 9.
Some of them are really cool, while others are not very impressive. A number of them are difficult to find. But it is fun to try to find them — kinda like a life-size Highlights™ Hidden Pictures™ puzzle.
Some of them we have never seen elsewhere on the island. Check out the 2 little “babies” inside the large bundled baby’s face. And there were some butterflies.
If you make the stop at our lovely river, stay for a while and enjoy the nice natural pool right below the rock with the pertroglyphs. You can swim and enjoy the little water cascades.
From Route 3 in Río Grande, turn onto Road 186 (just east of the intersection with Route 66 — El Verde BBQ Restaurant is on the corner). Continue on Road 186 for about 1 mile, then turn left onto Road 966. Just about ¼ mile up the road you will cross a bridge (currently painted yellow and white on the sides) — this is it!
While you could park on the west side of the road (on the right) by the bridge, this would require you to trudge down river (through some deep spots) to get under the bridge to the rock. If you park on the left side, there is a fence, but someone has made a hole in it for river access. This way is easier than across the road (no river trudging).
The better way to access the river is just to park at the yard just over the bridge on the left that has the Río Parking $3 sign on their fence. This seems to be open only during weekends and holidays. But this property has a path that leads right to the rock with the petroglyphs! So much easier.
The best viewing of these are from the area below this rock (in the water), which is a nice swimming pool. So a swimsuit suit, water shoes, and waterproof camera are required!
And when you’re finished, stop into El Verde BBQ for lunch. We highly recommend it!
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.
- Cara del Indio Petroglyphs: (18.358232, -65.813468)
- El Verde BBQ Restaurant: (18.374972, -65.823437)
PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it!