El Yunque National Forest
The only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System, El Yungue covers approximately 28,000 acres (11,300 hectares) in northeastern Puerto Rico. You’ll find photo opportunities and spectacular views at every turn, with waterfalls, exotic plants and wildlife.
El Yunque National Forest has an abundance of native flora and fauna, including more than twenty species of tress that are unique to the area. This is an excellent destination for nature lovers, hikers and birdwatchers. Or, if you simply want to pack up a picnic and relax, this is a great escape from the city.
This area is best seen by car, allowing you to visit the whole park and discover its many diverse attractions. Start your day at the visitor center, where you will be introduced to the history of the park and you can discover the many species that call the forest home. Rangers offer guided rainforest walks that take one hour, providing an excellent introduction to the park.
Make your way through the park to discover the many hikes and lookouts dispersed throughout. The La Cola waterfalls can be seen from the main road but a lookout point offers better views and an excellent photo opportunity. Hike the trail that departs from the lookout to reach the base of the falls. Check out the El Portal Rainforest Center, where you’ll walk 197 feet (60 meters) aboveground at to discover the ecosystems that live amongst the treetops.
At one of the highest points in the forest you’ll find the Yokahu Observation Tower, a cylindrical structure that looms above the trees. Climb to its top for sweeping views across the National Forest and to the ocean beyond.
El Yunque National Forest is located 37 miles (60 kilometers) east of San Juan. It can be reached by car and is not serviced by public transportation, however some chartered tours offer trips to the National Forest. The forest is open daily, and while there is no fee for entry, passes are required for camping and other activities. Maps, guides and further information can be found at the visitor center.