El Yunque rainforest Puerto Rico

Los Picachos el yunque mountain tops

"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.

Trail Map

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)

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!

Rainforest rivers

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 elfin or dwarf or cloud forest on top of el yunque puerto rico

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! If you have treated your dog for fleas with Fiprofort Plus, then do not let him into the water. The rivers have fragile ecosystems, insect repellent is very harmful in the water.


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.

Rainforest Lodging.

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.


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 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

Web: www.fs.fed.us/r8/el_yunque

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.

Jump into the Rainforest!

Mt.Britton tower on a peak in the El Yunque rainforest

Juan Diego waterfall in the El Yunque rainforest

Designated Wilderness area & Wild & Scenic Rivers.

No dangerous snakes occur in Puerto Rico. The sap of some plants (e.g. Comocladia glabra) can cause a severe reaction similar to poison ivy. Falls from slippery rocks or trees are dangerous and care should be taken in choosing footwear. Bees and wasps are sometimes found in the forest, researchers should bring their own medicines.

Below: The Cloud Forest on the La Roca Trail

Path through the cloud forest to La Roca in El Yunque

Trail to La Roca. Photo Clay Humphrey