Off the Beaten Path on Route 123 in Utuado
5/18 Post Maria- Road is open and available for use.
While I love taking highways and expressways to get to where I’m going, we often miss some great things by avoiding the little back roads. This is true all over, but Puerto Rico’s Route 123 in Utuado is a great example.
This little road, which runs parallel to Route 10, is a lush, green 2-lane road. You need to drive slowly, and really enjoy what rural Puerto Rico looks like. This was “the” main road until the Route 10 highway, built back in the 1970s. Though we drove just a small portion of this road, we had a half-day’s worth of fun, and took lots of photos!
Route 123 is “old Route 10”. It runs from Arecibo to Ponce, but we just did the stretch from Arecibo to the first part of Utuado. This small section of road (maybe 15 miles, tops) had a load of interesting things to see. We really think this drive should be incorporated into a day trip to the region.
We took Route 10 and got onto Route 123 going south (the intersection of Route 10 & 123 was not well-marked). We immediately noticed the difference between the highway and the local road. It was a slower pace, a curvier road, with houses, dogs, and signs of life. Driving this road does require a slower rate, but that gives you the opportunity to see what there is to see along the way.
The first thing we were looking for was the “other side” of Cueva Ventana. We have been in Cueva Ventana many times, and as you look out, you see a bridge. Well, when we got to that bridge, we stopped and looked up at the cave’s “ventana”. It was a neat to see this different perspective.
Continuing on Route 123, we found two (small) roadside waterfalls. The water for these falls comes right out from rock caves. They are so close to the road that it is hard to get good pictures of them, but they were really nice. It is pretty cool. After checking out the falls a bit, enjoy the bird-s eye view of the round “El Sombrero” building downhill on the other side of the road. Parking for these falls is just to the side of the road.
Continuing on, we encountered a dragon in a lovely, manicured yard. The house had Japanese-styled architecture, too. Not something you see everyday in Puerto Rico!
As we drove on, we decided to make a small diversion onto Route 146 to see the Lago Dos Bocas dam. It is just a quick left before the lake, you can’t miss it.
There was a fruit vendor near the dam, so we parked, bought some really reasonably-priced fruit/veggies, and walked across the damn while eating our fruit snack. It was really pretty and impressive too! We got some great photos of Lago Dos Bocas.
We then continued back to Route 123, where we passed the parking and dock for the Lago Dos Bocas restaurants. If you have a couple hours, you can take a boat ride to one of the restaurants for lunch on the weekends.
As we continued on Route 123, we noticed this cool, old hanging foot-bridge that connects the communities on either side of the river. We had to make a quick stop to walk across it .. can’t pass up that opportunity!
Since we were exploring with some friends who had never been to Cueva Ventana nor Cueva del Indio, we decided it was time to get off Route 123 and back onto Route 10 to head north to visit those sites. Along Route 10, we did stop at one of the roadside pincho stands, to grab a quick lunch.
That was our really cool day trip. So once in a while, take the extra time and take the small roads and explore!
From the San Juan area, you would take Route 22 west to Route 10 south to Route 123.
We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ...
- Cueva del Indio: (18.493122, -66.642251)
- Cueva Ventana, bridge on Route 123: (18.367398, -66.683893)
- Cueva Ventana, trailhead: (18.374845, -66.692451)
- Lago Dos Bocas dam: (18.335862, -66.668059)
- Lago Dos Bocas, parking: (18.330822, -66.670232)
- Suspension Bridge on Route 123: (18.286682, -66.706499)
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