El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico

El Yunque waterfalls at Juan Diego trail
Juan Diego Waterfalls Photo: Elena

What is a rain forest? In the case of El Yunque in Puerto Rico it is all about being the first mountain to face the wind and catch all the rain.

El Yunque is a cool, mountainous, tropical rainforest.

The Eastern side of the Luquillo Mountains, which has the El Yunque rainforest at the top elevations, gets most of the rain. . . "The true sub 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. This life zone is characterized by an annual total of 3,400 mm of rain. Its' main features are the Sierra Palms and a superabundance of epiphytes.". . . The trade winds blow from the north east and these mountains ( 3,500 ft elev. ) are in the north easternmost part of Puerto Rico. As the warm moist air rises when it meets the mountains and cools off, it dumps the rain...and intensifies the wind.

Presently you need prior reservations to take your car into the upper rainforest, road # 191. El Yunque car reservations link is on our Facebook page:


Getting to El Yunque: Best way: Rent a car! Uber can not drive you up into the reserve, they are not allowed. Many tours are available with pick up from San Juan. They vary. Half day only El Yunque, no real hiking. Or combine with Luquillo Beach (calm and beautiful) or the Bio Bay.. check moon schedule if contemplating the Bio Bay night tour.

Recent News and Informationon our facebook page: "EL YUNQUE PUERTO RICO IS OPEN"

bromeliads in the forest

Epiphytes and Sierra Palms.

US NATIONAL FOREST SERVICE Maintained by the US Forest Service, El Yunque offers a unique opportunity to visit a rainforest. Hours are 6 AM - to 6 PM. Phone numbers for US Forest Service (787) 888-1810 or (787) 888-1880. If you drive you need a prior reservation to enter your car. Otherwise there are many tours with pick up in San Juan. Uber can not enter the forest and the walk from where they can leave you is miles uphill.

US National Rainforest visitors center
EL PORTAL VISITOR CENTER Restoration has being done now. It is OPEN. Information, exhibits and store.
John Druitt offers private tours of El Yunque


Visit the town of Palmer for exhibits, gifts. Restaurants and small shops in town.

Touring El Yunque photos.

How the rainforest is created: The winds must rise when they meet the mountains. This rising of the air mass causes the air to cool and release rain on the windward side.

The native peoples made many a spiritual journey to the top of 'Yuquiyu'. It still feels very special at La Roca, Mt. Britton and Los Picachos peaks and an aura of mystery surrounds you in the cloud or dwarf forest! "According to Legend, the good spirit 'Yuquiyu' reigned on his mighty mountain-top throne, protecting the Taino people."

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

The intrigue of visiting the El Yunque rain forest is only partly in the observation of the varieties of plants that have managed to grow and adapt to the copious amounts of year round rainfall and winds near the top. The magic of El Yunque is in the pristine beauty, the sounds, the quietness and the serenity.

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.

Trail to La Roca  overlooks forest
LA ROCA Lost in the mist on a cloudy day. A 2 hour hike further up from Mt. Britton. The trail to MT. BRITTON starts from the parking at the top of the road. It is about 45 minutes up THE paved trail with occasional rest huts.
The peaks of Los Picachos at the top of El Yunque rainforest
MAP El YUNQUE TRAILS Starting at the Palo Colorado visitors center you can cross the street to walk around the dam, or go down the stairs to the little picnic gazebos and the long trail down to La Mina Falls.
Rio Blanco River on the south side of the rainforest above Naguabo
On the south side of the rainforest, up from Naguabo on the south spur of # 191. Highest lodging at Casa Flamboyant and Casa Cubuy Ecolodge
National Park History:

This reserve was first set aside by the king of Spain, which then transferred to the federal government in 1898. How did the present lookout towers and trails first become established?

The Civilian Conservation Corps operated in the years between 1933 and 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the CCC as part of the New Deal Initiative, a program to end the Great Depression. Through this federally funded program, 3,463,766 young men found employment and much needed food, clothing and shelter. Using little else than shovels and axes, the young men of the CCC completed recreation and conservation projects on public lands throughout the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They built roads and towers, developed recreational sites and trails, and engaged in forestry and wildlife improvements. In all of these sites, people today reap the benefits of the work done by the CCC

Recent News and Information on our facebook page:

'El Yunque Puerto Rico is open'

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.
No dangerous snakes occur in Puerto Rico.

Coquî tree

Island coqui  El Yunque Peak hike and a camping trip.

A variety of accommodations are available just outside the Park Boundaries. Some next to the rainforest itself and others in the foothills. All have a unique view of the forest and/or the sea. The tranquility experienced during a stay in any one of the small guest houses surrounding the forest refreshes the spirit and will increase your understanding of the rainforest.

Why Do Some Rainforest Trees Grow ”Buttress” Roots? Read about rainforest soils, climate, topography and the Sierra Palms.

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.

• Sierra Palm Forest level of the forest, just below the dwarf forest. Walk through on your hike up to Mt. Britton. Cement path with occasional gazebos. • Dwarf Forest lies at the very top of the El Yunque rainforest. Plants are unique and survive the extreme rainfall and constant wind.
• MT. Britton Tower is a favorite hiking trail with the tower destination and views over the mountains tops. Parking at the top of road #191. Sunny days you can see forever, cloudy days the clouds swirl around and below you! The El Portalito Center lies just below the rainforest and offers an introduction to the rainforest with exhibits, a film, store and snack bar. Town of Palmer Gateway To El Yunque
Help the Rainforest various ecological threats and ways to help our environment.

Coqui Frogs Photos and a little about the Coquis.


Coqui frog of Puerto Rico

Rainforest, biobays, scenic lighthouse views, kayaking, hang gliding, zip lining.