Discover El Yunque National Forest

One of the best places to experience the rainforest, El Yunque, Puerto Rico, immediately immerses the visitor in nature. In fact, the U.S. National Forest Service lists El Yunque as the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Park system.

El Yunque National Forest El Yunque National Forest

Previously known as the Caribbean National Forest, this natural attraction is situated on the slopes of Puerto Rico’s Sierra de Luquillo Mountains. It is one of the oldest reserves to be found in the Western Hemisphere, having been first set aside for preservation in 1876 by Spain’s King Alfonso XII. In 1903 some 65 950 acres of land were finally established under the name ‘Loquillo Forest Reserve’. The name was changed to the ‘Caribbean National Forest’ in 1935 and then again to El Yunque National Forest in 2007 to better reflect the cultural heritage of the local people. Today the reserve encompasses a whopping 28 002 acres of land. This makes it the largest section of public land to be found in Puerto Rico.

The El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is truly a natural treasure. The reserve is home to as many as four different varieties of forest vegetation. These are: Tabonuco Forest, Sierra Palm Forest, Dwarf Forest and Palo Colorado Forest. The variety is, in part, due to the differences in elevation found in the area as a series of peaks snake their way through the area.

The Highest mountain peak to be found in the reserve is known as El Toro and measures some 1 078 meters above sea level. Visitors to this stunning natural area will be able to make the most of the amazing vegetation by travelling through the reserve on foot. A number of clearly marked walking trails make this easy and enjoyable to do.


Botanists will also be happy to learn that the El Yunque National Forest is home to more than 240 species of trees and plants. As many as 23 of these species are found nowhere else in the world. Some of the plants you can expect to see here include: Sintenis’ Holly, Luquillo Mountain Lidflower, Palo de Jazmin, Maga Tree, Palo Colorado, Capa Rosa and El Yunque Colorado.

Animals are also not in short supply and there are plenty of birds, mammals and reptiles roaming the undergrowth. Visitors would do well to spot the small but distinctive and uniquely Puerto Rican Coqui Frog. Other animals they may spot include the Orange-fronted Parakeet, the Puerto Rican Galliwasp, the Tree Snail, the Puerto Rican Crested Anole, the Puerto Rican Flycatcher and the Puerto Rican Wetlands Blindsnake.

This is also one of the primary homes of the Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata) which was a highly endangered species up until very recently. Though the bird’s numbers have swelled somewhat due to a careful parrot recovery program, its existence is still somewhat threatened and conservationists need to exercise constant vigilance to ensure that they continue to thrive.


Things to See and Do in El Yunque National Forest

Taking a Puerto Rico Rainforest Tour

While exploring El Yunque Puerto Rico, or taking one of the El Yunque tours, you may happen on the coqui frog or Common Coqui. This tiny frog, technically called Eleutherodactylus coqui or E. coqui, sounds its mating call (Koh-Kee) from high tree limbs at night. The amphibian hides, in the day, under leaves or in bromeliads, close to hiking trails. The freckled brownish-grayish Common Coqui serves as a mascot for the people of Puerto Rico, and therefore represents an important symbol in Puerto Rican culture.

Seeing the Locust Coqui on a Rainforest in San Juan Puerto Rico Tour

One of the critically endangered animals in El Yunque Puerto Rico, E. Locustus, or the Locust Coqui, takes up residence on a fern-covered hill above the parking lot of the Big Tree Nature Trail. Its calls—a short whistle and several clicks—reverberate over the area in the late afternoon just before dusk.




Coqui frog


The Puerto Rican Tanager in the El Yunque National Forest Puerto Rico

A small bird species, endemic to El Yunque Rainforest, the Puerto Rican Tanager represents a passerine (perching bird) of the Nesospingus genus of tanagers. N. speculiferus displays olive-brown feathers, which are darker toward the top, and exhibits a white under-part.

Light-gray streaks mark the bird’s breast, and a white spot paints each wing. The bird measures about 8 inches, or around 20 centimeters long, and weighs a mere 1.2 ounces or 36 grams. On a hike through El Yunque National Forest, you will find the small bird above El Portal Rainforest Center, next to PR Road 191. The bird inhabits hiking trails in El Yunque Puerto Rico’s recreation area. Breeding season spans from January to July.

The Puerto Rican Parrot (Iguaca)

One of the other unique residents of El Yunque is the Puerto Rican Parrot. The Puerto Rican Parrot, or Iguaca (a Taino Indian name), once flourished throughout the island. Now endangered, the parrot cannot be owned, bought, or sold as a pet. The Amazon avian measures about 29 centimeters, or 11 inches long, and weighs around 270 grams or 10 ounces. Its tail squares off rather than tapers to a point, such as the parakeet’s.

The green parrot displays blue wing tips, which are usually seen only when the bird is flying. Donning a red blaze above its beak and a white ring around the eye, the Iguaca occurs inside El Yunque National Forest in the upper zones of the Luquillo Mountain range. Both Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Maria reduced the number of Puerto Rican parrots, as well as other wildlife, in the area.

Iguaca | Parrot in Puerto Rico

El Yunque waterfalls

  • La Mina Falls
  • La Coca Falls
  • Juan Diego Falls

What to See close to El Yunque National Forest

Activities close to El Yunque National Forest

  • Big Tree Trail
  • JungleQui Rainforest Ecoadventure Park
  • Carabali Rainforest Park
  • Wyndham Rio Mar Casino
  • Coco Beach Golf and Country Club

El Yunque National Forest Locations

Where is El Yunque National Forest?

Mameyes II is home to El Yunque National Forest. Find the neighborhood going through a day looking at a portion of the nearby attractions. In case you’re searching for activities nearby, you might need to look at Luquillo Beach and Ceiba Ferry Terminal.

El Yunque visitors center

The El Portal Visitors Center generally closes about 4:30 or 5 PM. Couples get married and have their gathering after El Portal closes. It would need to end around 9 PM as representatives need to return home at that point. Everybody must be out before 10 PM, however there is always a chance you can work something out.

Where Can I Stay close to El Yunque National Forest?

There are 18 inns you can pick from inside 5 miles of El Yunque National Forest. You should consider one of these alternatives that are well known with our voyagers:

Sierra Palms is a walled property on a two path street in El Yunque Rainforest. – 2 mi (3.3 km) away

• 4-star B&B • Free breakfast • Free stopping • Free WiFi

Pivate with the best that PR has to bring to the table guests all I minutes from your entryway. – 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away

• 3.5-star manor • Free stopping • Outdoor pool

How Far Is El Yunque Rainforest from San Juan?

Hikers love El Yunque rainforest trails, as it gives them a chance to explore the area’s diverse and unique ecosystem of plants and animals. They can easily visit the island from San Juan, which takes about 45 minutes by rental car.

What is the actual distance from San Juan to El Yunque?

The actual distance is 51 kilometers (by road), or 32 miles.

Step by step instructions to Get to El Yunque National Forest

Trips to Mameyes II

• Luis Munoz Marin Intl. Air terminal (SJU), 17.2 mi (27.7 km) from focal Mameyes II

• Vieques (VQS-Antonio Rivera Rodriguez), 22.9 mi (36.8 km) from focal Mameyes II

• Culebra (CPX-Benjamin Rivera Noriega), 30.7 mi (49.3 km) from focal Mameyes II


Interesting facts about El Yunque National Forest Puerto Rico

You might say that El Yunque Puerto Rico highlights a small part of the rainforest in a really big way. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, El Yunque represents one of the smallest forests in the National Forest System (NFS) of the U.S. However, it also features more biodiversity than any forest in the network. El Yunque Rainforest boasts around 250 tree types on a tract of about 30,000 acres – more trees than what can be found on the total 192 million acres of the NFS.

El Yunque Trail Map







 

El Yunque Most Popular Trails (El Yunque hiking trails)

  • Mount Britton Tower Trail

    Mount Britton Tower Trail is a 2.6 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Naguabo, East Region, Puerto Rico that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

  • El Yunque Trail

    El Yunque Trail is a 8.7 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Carata de la Mina, East Region, Puerto Rico that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

  • El Toro Trail

    El Toro Trail is a 7.9 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Villa Sin Miedo, East Region, Puerto Rico that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

  • Vereda La Coca Trail

    Vereda La Coca Trail is a 5.1 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Luquillo, East Region, Puerto Rico that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

  • Rio Sabana Trail

    Rio Sabana Trail is a 9.0 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Naguabo, East Region, Puerto Rico that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

  • Vereda Caimitillo

    Vereda Caimitillo is a 1.8 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Naguabo, East Region, Puerto Rico that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Clearly there is a lot to enjoy at this great natural location so pack a picnic lunch and head off to the El Yunque National Forest.

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