"According to ancient Indian Legend, the good spirit 'Yuquiyu' ( or 'Yokahu' ) reigned on his mighty mountain-top throne, protecting Puerto Rico and its people." SPANISH CLICK HERE
. . "This tropical 'Rain forest' occupies very little area in Puerto Rico, only a single, crescent shaped, band on the windward side of the El Yunque mountains. It lies wholly within the El Yunque National Forest Reserve. The actual rainforest is at the top, you must drive to the top of the road and hike up to see the cloud or dwarf forest. There is no rainforest lodging within the park boundaries but there are many places to stay at the edge of the forest that 'feel' like the rainforest.
The many Hiking trails are well maintained. You can hike to the very top, or part way up to Mt. Britton with amazing views! Big tree trail is less populess, whereas the trail to La Mina falls can be elbow to elbow from the tour buses ( starting at 10 AM)
Trail Map detail
Pretty waterfalls off the side of the road.
Here is a link to an interactive little diagram that shows how the clouds and rain are made going up mountains.
Map of annual rainfall in Puerto Rico.The rivers and waterfalls formed by all that water rushing back down from El Yunque to the sea are very beautiful refreshingly cool and clean to jump into!
At the very top of the mountain peaks the further increase of both wind and rain creates the dwarf or 'elfin' forest in which few species are able to adapt and cling to the wet soil. Often shrouded in fog, this is a particularly beautiful part of the forest, with its twisted and stunted trunks.
Hike the Mt. Britton trail to the tower.
The forest hosts a number of unique plant and animal species such as the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot ( very rarely seen) and the tiny coquis (indigenous tree frogs) that serenade the evening hours.
Why does the El Yunque rainforest feel so special? You must answer this for yourself, but certainly it is very beautiful and mysterious and cool.
The El Yunque National Forest is managed by the US Forest Service who maintain an extensive network of hiking trails. Picnic facilities, paved trails and tour bus parking. NO Mosquitoes up in this forest! Please do NOT wear insect repellent in the rivers! The rivers have fragile ecosystems, insect repellent is very harmful in the water.
EASTERN PUERTO RICO
The 'El Portal' exhibit hall and lookout towers are on the North side. The South side is the quiet side. You should spend a few nights in the forest to really appreciate the peace and beauty.
El Yunque is a very gentle forest. In fact; there are no poisonous snakes! The need to protect our planets rain forests becomes more apparent as one gains a better understanding through actual experience. . . and the beauty can be overwhelming.
Camping is allowed in El Yunque (with a free permit, get it before 3 pm read camping info.) but it's pretty wet and there are no facilities, no designated camping area. Remember, that the gate closes at 6pm.
BOOK NOW ! Enhance your rainforest experience with a naturalist guide and private tour:
John Druitt north side with Island Walkers Private Tours of El Yunque has been a tour guide in Puerto Rico for the last 15 years. His service includes transportation from your hotel or from the bottom of the mountain. <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cruise ship passengers, this is the perfect tour operator for you! These are private tours. RUBIO TEL. 787-309-6224 or E-mail:
Book a snorkeling tour with Elena
Robin Phillips offers hiking tours on the south side only of El Yunque. Robin offers a day long hike to the waterfalls and also will do tours to the Taino Petroglyphs.
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ENTRANCE FEES: There are no entrance fees to visit the forest, you just drive up. EL YUNQUE VISITING HOURS: Visiting hours for the El Yunque rainforest start early and you are not allowed in the forest after 6 pm, unless you have a camping permit. The forest is open 7 days a week. If it is very crowded they may limit the amount of visitors due to lack of parking... On busy summer days there can be a long line of cars waiting to be let in. Get there early!
Forest Tours given by guide/interpreters: You do not need a guide to see the rainforest as the trails are clearly marked. Rubio is the only licensed tour guide that will take up all the way up into the dwarf forest.
FOREST SERVICE TELS: 787- 888 -1880 Phone numbers listed as contact for US Forest Service as follows: (787) 888-1810 or (787) 888-1880. Fax: (787) 888-5685
Why Do Some Rainforest Trees Grow ”Buttress” Roots?
Some of the trees of the El Yunque National Forest’s upper zones have adapted to its unique soil, topography and humid climate conditions by growing “buttress roots,” a type of prop root that grows at the base of the tree trunk, to form a support for the tree. . . article by Alan Mowbray. Read about rainforest soils, climate, topography and the Sierra Palms.
Visit the El Portal Visitors Center located just below the rainforest.
Hike the Mt. Britton trail to the tower
There are often crowds on the north side of the rainforest. The south side ( above the town of Naguabo) is not similarly maintained, yet there are abundant trails and few people. Elevations Map.Actual rainforest lodging is located on the south side, in the heart of the rainforest.
El Portal Visitors Center l
Jump into the Rainforest!