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El Yunque is the only rainforest in the entire US!

Visiting El Yunque, Puerto Rico: The Only US Rainforest

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El Yunque, Puerto Rico is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest Service, and one of the most popular rainforests in the world. No trip to Puerto Rico is complete without a visit to this beautiful place.

With an average rainfall of 120 inches a year, there is a very diverse ecosystem, hosting hundreds of unique plant and animal species. Here's everything you need to know when visiting El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

Where is El Yunque?

El Yunque is located about an hour east of the capital of San Juan. The rainforest itself covers an area of 115 square kilometers! The official entrance to the park only covers part of the park, but with a road that has many of the highlights right off the side of the road.

If you are visiting for the first time we recommend checking out this area, as you can see the most amount of things in a small area. If you have more time however, we do encourage you to check out other areas of the rainforest, as there are plenty more great trails, rivers, and natural landscapes that El Yunque has to offer!

where is el Yunque, Puerto rico

El Yunque is in the north east of the island of Puerto Rico.

How to Get to El Yunque, Puerto Rico

Getting to El Yunque, Puerto Rico can be tricky as there isn't any form of public transportation. You can either take a tour or rent a car. We recommend renting a car, as you have more freedom to spend your time how you'd like. If you want to know more about renting a car in Puerto Rico, click here.

Taking a Tour to El Yunque

If you don't want to drive, another option for visiting El Yunque is to take an organized tour. The majority of them go from San Juan, which is the capital of Puerto Rico.

Here are a few tours that you can sign up for to visit El Yunque:

Getting Around El Yunque, Puerto Rico

Once you are inside the park it is actually extremely easy to get around. There is only one main road, and as you follow you will see the highlights along the way. Everything is well marked, and it is very easy to park at each and every spot. As well, each attraction is just a stone's throw from one another!

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It's important to also note the the park is enormous, and there are tons of spots in nature that are outside of the park entrance itself. So we encourage you to also explore the surrounding areas as there are rivers, waterfalls, and tons of greenery.

rio espiritu, El Yunque Puerto Rico

There are also plenty of attractions that are part of El Yunque, but outside the official entrance.

Things to Do in El Yunque, Puerto Rico

Now is the fun part! There are a lot of fun things to check out once you are inside El Yunque. You can easily spend hours checking out everything, so it's good to know all of the main points, so you can plan out how you'd like to spend your day. Here are the highlights of El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

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La Coca Falls

The first stop in the rainforest is La Coca Falls. These aren't a place to bathe, but merely a great photo stop. You can climb along the rocks in the front, or you can take the small trail on the left to go up and take some pictures on the rocks up there. You can park right across the street. This stop really only needs a few minutes.

La Coca waterfall, El Yunque Puerto Rico

La Coca Falls is the first stop in El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

Suggested Read: 15 Great Waterfalls in Puerto Rico

Yokahu Tower

Yokahu Tower is another pretty quick stop. This tower is on the left side of the road, and has a staircase going to the top of the tower for some pretty spectacular views over the rainforest.

Yokahu Tower, El Yunque Puerto Rico

Climb the Yokahu Tower for some great views of El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

Juan Diego Falls

Juan Diego falls are a set of waterfalls that are definitely worth a stop. Here you can decide whether you'd like to spend just 15-20 minutes, or if you're up for more adventure you can stay a lot longer to discover just how far you can climb.

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The first falls are just a few minutes by foot, and the second is another few minutes uphill on the right side of the first falls. You can take a dip in both, but there isn't a whole lot of room to swim. After you make it to the second falls you can hike up the side to continue, although the trail is a little bit difficult and unmarked.

El Yunque SYM Puerto Rico

If you plan on going up the side we suggest you to bring sneakers and watch your step, as it can become pretty slippery!

Sierra Palm Picnic Area

The picnic area is a great place to sit and enjoy your lunch, all while being surrounded by some stunning nature. There are trails down that lead to big covered areas for groups to use, with quite a bit of privacy as well. The area has many different picnic booths, as it does get pretty crowded at El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

Sierra Palm picnic area, El Yunque

There are some beautiful picnic areas to relax and have bite to eat.

Baño Grande Pool

Baño Grande is a man-made pool that was built in the 1930's, that was created by damming off the nearby river. This stop is a short one, as you cannot go swimming in the pool. It's a beautiful are to walk around, and go across the bridges, imagining what it would be like to cool off and relax inside.

Bano Grande. El Yunque Puerto Rico

Baño Grande has a large pool and waterfalls. However, you can not bathe in them.

Baño de Oro

Here is another pool that was made, but no longer being used. Right now they are working to restore the pool, as it is not full like Baño de Oro is. Take the trail to check out the remains, as well as some old fish hatchery tanks. 

*Please note: As of now (February 2021) the trail is still closed, but may open again in the near future.

Bano de Oro, El Yunque Puerto Rico

The trail to Baño de Oro was closed at the time we went in February 2021.

Caimitillo Trail

Caimitillo is a small hiking trail that is easy and pleasant. Take in the lush jungle around you and just enjoy the quiet nature of El Yunque, Puerto Rico. This area also has a picnic area, making it the perfect place to stop and enjoy your lunch or a snack.

Caimitillo Trail, El Yunque

Caimitillo trail is full of greenery and is easy for all ages.

La Mina Falls

La Mina Falls is the most famous of the waterfalls in El Yunque. This 35 foot drop is surrounded by jungle, and makes the perfect swimming spot. La Mina can be accessed by two different trails- La Mina trail and Big Tree trail. Both trails are on the main road inside the park of El Yunque, Puerto Rico.

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La Mina Trail

La Mina trail starts at KM 12 and is the shorter of the two trails. It takes about a half hour to climb down, and a little longer to come back, as you will need to take the stairs up. The trail is pretty narrow and steep, making it a moderate to difficult trail, so we suggest bringing sneakers and water.

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Big Tree Trail

Big Tree trail is slightly longer by just a tenth of a mile. Although it takes about 45 minutes to go down, it is the easier trail, as it goes down more gradually. There are signs along the way in both English and Spanish, so that you can learn about the area along the way.

*Currently both of the trails are closed. They were closed after the hurricane, and continue to be closed off due to COVID-19. They will probably open back up in 2022.

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Mount Britton Tower

This is at the end of the road going through El Yunque. Mount Britton is 3,088 fett high, and boasts a spectacular view of the rainforest. The trail is a 45 minute steep hike through the cloud forest. Once you reach the top you will have an incredible panoramic view, hopefully not covered by the clouds!

Mount Britton, El Yunque

Mount Birtton has great panoramic views at the top.

Food/Drinks at El Yunque Park

There are a few different places that you can get food/drinks in El Yunque, Puerto Rico. The cafes are located right off the side of the road and have free parking. The options are limited to quick foods, snacks, and coffees. There are picnic areas, which we personally think is the best option. Pack a lunch and bring it with you to sit and enjoy the view at the same time.

Things to Know About El Yunque, Puerto Rico

Here are a few more things to know about El Yunque on your visit:

  • The entrance is $2 per vehicle, and you must make a reservation (as of COVID-19 times).
  • The time slots available are 8 am til 11 am and 12 pm to 3 pm.
  • Normally the rainforest is open from 7:30 am to 6 pm, but now has shortened hours due to COVID-19.
  • It rains on and off almost every day in El Yunque Puerto Rico, so bring a poncho or umbrella.
  • Bring a swimsuit for the waterfalls, and sneakers for the hiking areas.
  • The hurricane hit the rainforest hard, and they are still recovering, so there are some areas that may still be closed (for example: Mina Falls)
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El Yunque is a must-see if you are in Puerto Rico! Full of trails, waterfalls, and beautiful views, you could easily spend a few hours, or even days here. We suggest spending one full day inside the official park area, and if you have time, explore the areas outside.

Want to know what it's like to travel to Puerto Rico during COVID-19? Click here.

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