El Yunque National Forest
Located on the Caribbean Island of Puerto Rico in the Greater Antilles group, El Yunque National Forest is the sole tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System.
This Forest differs significantly from all the other U.S. National Forests because of its year-round tropical climate and immense biodiversity.
The rugged Luquillo Mountains that rise to 3,533 feet above sea level comprise most of the Forest land. Their steep slopes can sometimes receive rainfall of over 200 inches at higher elevations!
At an average temperature of 73° F (21° C), the Forest has the ideal climate for exuberant tropical vegetation. The rain forest is noted for its biodiversity; it is “home” to thousands of native plants including 150 fern species, 240 tree species.
Scientists and historians estimate that the Puerto Rican Parrot (Amazona vittata) has lived in this Forest for well over a thousand years. The size of the parrot population dwindled in direct proportion to the conversion of forested land to cities and farms, in so doing, the parrot’s only habitat was almost eradicated. Click here to read how the parrot population was saved.
Start off your visit by stopping in the El Portal Rain Forest Center. Below the walkway at ground level, there is a short interpretive nature trail where you can explore the under story of the canopy and get some spectacular views of the lower forest and the coastal plain.
The Forest offers a number of scenic views. Only by hiking can you reach the Forest's highest peaks. All of El Yunque's peaks provide wonderful views of the surrounding forest, neighboring peaks, of incoming clouds and of the nearby Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.
For more exciting views, put on your boots and hike all the way to Mount Britton Observation Tower. From this Tower you can enjoy views of the Humacao Lagoons, and the Yabucoa Valley. Or head up to El Yunque Rock.
There are currently 24 miles of recreational trails. These trails are restricted to foot traffic (hiking) only.
El Yunque National Forest is known for having the highest quality waters in Puerto Rico, and lovely water vistas. Because it is a mountainous rain forest, there are plenty of streams, creeks, and rivers crossing the Forest. The steepness of the terrain provides numerous lovely cascades and small pools.