El Yunque Visitor Center
First, its important to know, the El Portal Rain Forest Center is CLOSED.
This was the main El Yunque Visitors Center before Hurricanes Irma and Maria did significant damage and shut this facility down. Extensive work is in progress to repair and reopen this visitors center.
Up until 2020, the visitor center had been in a short-term place just outside of the National Forest called Portalito HUB in a little town called Palmer. Its at the base of El Yunque.
It had been a place where you could get a map, some souvenirs, bottles of water, a poncho, and use the bathroom. The employees also helped with any questions and could update you on the latest El Yunque information.
However, as of 2021, the National Forest Service is managing crowd control at El Yunque with timed reservation tickets. Find out more about how to get your ticket at recreation.gov.
Driving straight into the park, you wont find a visitors center. Instead, youre likely to see Park Staff directing you to a pull-off so you can check in with your timed-entry ticket and handing out a current El Yunque National Forest map.
Its also an opportunity to ask any questions about trails that are open and closed on the date of your visit.
Driving Through The Rainforest
All individuals can enjoy a visit to El Yunque, including those that may have physical limitations. The best way to experience that rainforest is by foo. If youre not able to walk or youre short on time, you can drive and see a few waterfalls along the way and enjoy the sights. If you have a sunroof, open it the whole way and look up at the giant ferns gently moving to the cool breeze of the rainforest. There is a lookout tower with an open observation patio at the top with breathtaking views that extend all the way to the east coast shores on a clear day.
If youre staying on the west coast of Puerto Rico, but dont wish to take the drive to El Yunque, Cascadas Gozalandia in San Sebastian, is an easy and enjoyable day trip.
Experience Rainforest Wildlife Away From Large Groups
Many people will visit the rainforest and not see any wildlife. Tour groups power through the rainforest at alarming speeds, talking loudly. One group even had music playing. Its too bad, because hiking in El Yunque Rainforest is actually a great opportunity to see wildlife.
If you want to see wildlife, go slow and stay quiet. Hold back and let large groups pass you. Remember that youre walking through someone elses home, and do your best to be respectful.
I saw two hummingbirds on my hike, and dozens of other birds. You just have to move slowly, stay quiet, and watch for movement.
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Hiking In El Yunque Rainforest: 6 Things To Know Before You Go
Hiking in El Yunque Rainforest is the perfect day trip for adventurous travellers. Its the only ecosystem of its kind in the United States National Parks system, and easy to get to from all over Puerto Rico. The rainforest home to hundreds of different species, and full of beautiful trails, waterfalls, and scenic views.
My trip to go hiking in El Yunque Rainforest was one of the highlights of my time in Puerto Rico. I love experiencing new ecosystems, and theres nothing like relaxing by a waterfall! Since its a one-of-a-kind place, its best to visit with a little bit of planning and knowledge about what to expect.
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How To Get To El Yunque From San Juan
If youre coming to El Yunque from San Juan, getting to the forest should take you anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
From San Juan, take PR 26 to PR 66 or PR 3 until you hit Highway 191, which will take you to El Portal Visitor Center.
Theres signs on the highway that will point you in the right direction, I suggest you follow them. Do keep in mind that most maps will likely take you to El Yunque on a toll road . Check with your rental car company before making the trek to see how they handle tolls.
How To Get To El Yunque National Forest
Grab your hiking boots and an extra set of clothes and head to the Río Grande area, east of San Juan, via PR-66 to PR-3, and then following PR-191. Traveling to El Yunque from San Juan will take you approximately 45 minutes. If youre driving, GPS the address to the following destination: El Portal Visitor Center, PR-191 Río Grande, PR 00745, for an exact route.
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How To Get From San Juan To El Yunque Rainforest
El Yunque National Forest is located in the Rio Grande area in the northeast of Puerto Rico. Getting to El Yunque National Forest from San Juan is easy and takes about a
We used google maps on our phones and it got us right where we needed to be to start our self-drive tour through El Yunque National Forest.
How to get to El Yunque National Forest
The traffic to get from San Juan to El Yunque Rainforest will be busier and it will take longer in summer when there are more tourists in the area. If you visit during the off-season and slightly colder months- it should take less time.
We had a rental car and it was easy to drive to El Yunque National Forest however, if you dont want to drive yourself-
More time in Puerto Rico? Use my Ultimate Guide for Planning Tips!
Mt Britton Tower Hiking In El Yunque
After youve cooled off in the El Yunque National Forest waterfalls, its time to hit the trails! Mt. Britton Tower is one of the most famous hikes in El Yunque, and with good reason.
The tower is a beautiful orange color that stands in sharp contrast to the deep green colors of the jungle and the blue skies. Plus, theres stairs inside the tower that take you all the way to the top where, on a clear day, you can see clear across the island of Puerto Rico, all the way to the water.
Theres several different ways you can get to Mt. Britton Tower, but perhaps the most straightforward is to drive almost to the end of the main road in El Yunque, and take the 0.8-mile trail through the forest.
The hike takes about 40 minutes one-way, and you start by immediately gaining elevation. The trail is paved, and youre surrounded by the smells, sights and sounds of the forest. Listen closely and youll likely hear the sounds of Puerto Ricos frog, the coqui.
As you continue along the trail, youll come across a couple of picnic-area-like covered benches where you can rest and take in the views.
Continuing along, youll eventually reach the end of the forest and hit a paved road. Veer right and follow the signs, youre almost there!
Mt. Britton Tower will slowly come into view you may notice the emerald plants perfectly framing the tower!
Once you reach the tower, climb the stairs to the top and admire the view. Keep in mind, it can get windy, foggy, and cold up there!
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The only tropical rainforest in the United States national forest system, the beautiful El Yunque National Park in Puerto Rico was previously known as the Caribbean National Forest. Meaning âwhite landsâ, this rainforest is set on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains. Rich in endemic species of flora and fauna, the highest mountain, this national forest extends to a height of 3,494 feet . Numerous trails run across the forest, giving you plenty of opportunities for exploration and outdoor fun. The lush foliage, waterfalls, and rivers make for a spectacular sight all around the year. The second-largest peak in the forest is named El Yunque and it is revered by the indigenous people as their chief deity Yucahu. Check out our guide to El Yunque, Puerto, Rico, below.
Blessed with natureâs bounty, this forest affords enough options to keep you busy for days. Try out one or more of these things to do in El Yunque National Park depending on your schedule.
One of the toughest hikes in the forest, this peak is scaled through the four-hour Trade Winds Trail.
Built as a vantage lookout point, this 65-foot tall tower with a Moorish appearance offers views of the islands in the east.
La Mina Falls
Accessible via a four-minute hike from the Palo Colorado information center, this waterfall cascades from a height of 35 feet .
El Hippie Petroglyphs
Beautiful Spots To Visit In El Yunque National Forest
April 26, 2021 by Olivia Fox
El Yunque National Forest is on every list of best places to visit in Puerto Rico, and for good reason! If you like waterfalls, swimming in lagoons, or hiking, you should plan to visit El Yunque. It is the only tropical rainforest within the US National Forest Service and provides a beautiful, natural escape only about an hour from San Juan.
If youve read my article, How to Enjoy Your Time Working Remotely in San Juan, you know that I only had time to spend one day in El Yunque. Theres plenty to do over a few days, but you can explore a lot in one day, as I did.
Since the recent hurricanes and earthquakes, there are a few areas in the park that are closed while repairs are made. Make sure to check out their website alerts and maps for the most recent information on closures. At the time of writing, La Mina Falls and the visitor center are closed. Some areas of trails and roads are damaged as well, but passable. If you are driving in, make sure to take it slow and be on the lookout for potholes and areas where the road is washed away . Its nothing too crazy though, and we had no trouble with our rental car.
Make sure you reserve a ticket for your vehicle prior to entering the park. Tickets are free, but there is a $2 reservation fee.
- Sneakers or hiking shoes
- Insect repellent
- Waterproof plastic bags for electronics
- Snacks or food for a picnic
- Extra set of dry clothes, shoes, and socks for the trip home
Source: USDA Forest Service
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El Yunque Rain Forest
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Covering 28,000 acres, and receiving more than 200 inches of rain per year, El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the US Forest System. Noted for its biodiversity, the forest is home to more than 400 different plant species. It has more than a dozen maintained trails for hiking, picnic pavilions, stone towers, rivers, waterfalls, and an interpretive visitors’ center.
Reviewed By Innovator-Designer – Indianapolis, United States
Things To Do In El Yunque National Forest
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Image Source: Adam at La Coca Falls, El Yunque Rainforest by BluEyedA73, on Flickr
El Yunque rain forest is the only and the most spectacular rainforest in Puerto Rico. Many people from all around the world come to visit it each year for its unique, rare birds and trees and its very picturesque landscapes also, it is a great place for adventures lovers where you can try many activities like hiking, camping and ziplining!
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Las Playas Hidden Natural Slide
The site is where you can slide down the natural rocks with the running waterfall. It is so much fun and just a short drive from El Yunque National Forest. It is worth it to go on the hunt for this hidden gem.
Find out all the tips for visiting Las Paylas at my! The first tip is that it is also spelled LAS PAILAS! Read on to find out more.
El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque National Rainforest is a reserve located in the Sierra de Luquillo mountains. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, with over 120 inches of rainfall in a year. Home to hundreds of unique plant and animal species, it features beautiful waterfalls, natural pools, hiking trails, camping areas, and historical sites.
As a Puerto Rican local, Ive been there multiple times, and I know there is a lot to see and do. In fact, El Yunque is high on my list of the top Puerto Rico attractions.
In this guide to the El Yunque National Rainforest, Ill walk you through some things you should know before visiting El Yunque.
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!
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Visit El Yunque National Forest
Plan a soul-refreshing escape to an enchanted rainforest park.
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System but it is also a sacred place in Puerto Rican culture. Many believe its name comes from the Taíno word Yuke, or “white earth,” a reference to the clouds that gather around the forest’s mountainous peak others believe it derives from Yúcahu, the Taíno deity of fertility. Today, this national treasure is an excellent destination if you want to immerse yourself in nature. Here’s a look at some of the top things to see and do in El Yunque, from bathing in natural pools beneath waterfalls to taking in the gorgeous scenery from its many hiking trails.
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, and one of Puerto Rico’s most beloved natural gems. The park has a very diverse ecosystem, with hundreds of unique plant and animal species, including Puerto Rico’s famous coquí frog.
El Yunque Rainforest Tour Options
Can you go to El Yunque without a tour?
You sure can! We did everything on our own while visiting El Yunque National Forest!
However, if you dont want to drive yourself through the Rainforest or you dont have a rental car, there are plenty of private and group tours through El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico. Some of the Rainforest tours leave from the
personal El Yunque Hotel recommendation, we found a super cute rustic innthat was located in the heart of the rainforest. The drive to get there was quite an experience and we wondered what on earth we were getting into by driving into the forest! There was no need for our white noise app THAT night, since we drifted off to sleep to the sounds of nature and awoke to the sounds of chirping birds.
Want to stay at the La Casa De Vida Natural in the middle of the Rainforest?
There are many things to do in El Yunque Rainforest. If you just drive straight down the main 191 Road you will find most of them. There are many hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic views throughout the forest for you to enjoy. Visiting El Yunque on your own is easy by following the map and all of my tips above. Or go the easy route and
Enjoy your time in Puerto Rico at this beautiful Rainforest Destination and then make plans to explore the rest of Puerto Rico!
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Getting To El Yunque Rainforest
If you have the option, then I highly recommend renting a car even if its just for a day trip to go hiking in El Yunque Rainforest. The drive from San Juan is about 45 minutes. Its worth finding a way to go on your own because the tour groups lead to it being fairly loud and crowded at the waterfalls.
Visiting El Yunque rainforest was a somewhat spontaneous decision for us. It was too late to book a day tour, so we took an Uber. *Update: It was brought to my attention that Uber drivers are technically not permitted in El Yunque Rainforest. Uber is a great way to get around elsewhere in Puerto Rico, and its very cheap in the city of San Juan.
Uber was a great way to get to El Yunque as we didnt have a car rental. The Uber app does not work in the rainforest, so make arrangements with your driver to pick you up later. This method of transport is up to the drivers discretion and may not be available when you visit.*
The Original Off The Beaten Path Tour At El Yunque Rainforest
Experience with us El Yunque rainforest like a local! Leave the city behind and enjoy a day immersed in nature. We invite you to a day of fun, adventure, history and culture while in the expert hands of a certified tour guide that will make you feel like family.
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System. Its 28,000 acres of land is home to a diversity of flora and fauna some of which are found nowhere else in the world. In your visit to El Yunque your senses will awaken, you will experience the Earthy smell of nature, the soft breeze will carry the aromatic fragrance of flowers, the luscious greenery and colors of beautiful flowers will be etched in your memories like pictures from a camera, the singing of birds and coquis plus the sounds of cascading waters will hypnotize and relax you while the refreshing waters of its rivers will revive you.
What to expect:
Duration: Allow for 5 to 6 hours from pick up to drop off.
When: Monday through Sunday with pick-ups beginning at 8:00am. Pick up and drop off time can be customized for larger groups
Who: We welcome ages 7 and over. Participants must be physically able to walk on un-even terrain. Parts of the hikes have some incline and require balance.
What to bring and how to prepare:
- Dress comfortable Shorts and t-shirt or Dri-Fit Clothing
- Swimming suit on at the time of pick up
- Bring a towel
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