This is place is just magical! >>See video HERE <<
We’d been wanting to visit El Yunque National Forest since we arrived in Puerto Rico. It’s one of the most beautiful and peaceful places/parks I’ve ever been to, so lush and serene. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system and welcomes over 600,000 visitors a year from all over the world.
We hiked multiple trails and climbed small waterfalls with friends Nick and Sara (SV Borealis) on the way up to El Yunque’s peak. Everything from the sound of water to the sight of greenery to the earthy smell was so calming. If you’re wondering there are no large wildlife, posinious snakes, or venomous insects on the island. There are however one animal that you are sure to see and hear is the small tree frog called the coqui. El Yunque is home to millions of these inch-long frogs, and their “singing” is everywhere.
The hurricanes in 2017 caused considerable damage in the forest … landslides, washed-out roads, deforestation, and other structural damage. Because of that, we only got to see a small slice of it during our visit as nature is still rebounding. Regardless, a day exploring this park is a day well spent!
- Get its name from an Indian spirit Yuquiye, which means “Forest of Clouds”
- Thick emerald green forest covers 28,000 acres
- Receives more than 200 inches of rain per year
- Home to more than 400 different plant species
- Highest mountain peak in the forest rises 3,494 feet (1,065 m) above sea level
Entrance / La Coca Falls
We drove into the park and were stopped by Park Staff who gave us a current El Yunque National Forest map, and some additional park info and to enforce the 6pm closure. The main El Yunque Visitors Center is CLOSED due to Hurricane damage. A temporary visitor center is now located at the base of El Yunque. There, you can also get a map, souvenirs, water, and use the restrooms.
Halfway between La Coca Falls and Juan Diego Falls. You can park in the designated lot. Then walk up a set of spiral stairs that will take you to a look out tower at the very top. Each window of the tower has a great view, with of course the 360 view.
Juan Diego Waterfall
This is a short hike with somewhat high steps but very doable. Occasionally muddy and slippery, BRING WATER SHOES! The main waterfall here gets crowded, however there is a second one thats more secluded.. The trail to the left is not clearly marked but there is a blue rope indicating an entrance/exit, you can hold onto as you climb up or down. Taking the “off-trail” was defintely worth having this all to ourselves.
Mt. Britton & Tower
About a 40-45 minute hike up with a great lookout point where you can see an expanse of El Yunque National Forest. Trail is a combination of pavement and gravel.
El Yunque Peak
This view really pays off! Once you reach the bottom of Mt. Britton, it gives you the option to go back down or continue on to the trailhead for El Yunque Peak, the highest peak in the forest. Takes about an hour one-way. If you are planning to do this, bring lots of water and snacks! We failed on the snacks, rookie mistake.
Standing at just over 3,500 feet above sea level. You’ll see a viewing tower with a platform to take 360° view photos.
Check out their website for updates and things to know before you go!
Cheers from Puerto Rico!