Fodor's Expert Review El Yunque

El Yunque Forest Fodor's Choice

Oversized flora, rushing streams, and powerful cascades are just some of what you'll find in El Yunque, which gets 100 billion gallons of precipitation annually. Two of the island's highest picos (peaks), El Toro and El Yunque, are also here, rising over 3,500 feet amid the more than 28,000 lush acres that encompass four major forest types, roughly stratified by elevation.

These ecosystems are home to thousands of native plants, including 150 fern and 240 tree species—88 of them rare and endemic, 23 of them found here exclusively. There are no monkeys or large cats (and no poisonous snakes, either). Rather, El Yunque is populated with small creatures, some of which—like the cotorra (the island’s greatly endangered green parrot) and the culebrón (Puerto Rican boa)—exist nowhere else on Earth.

The bird-watching is especially good after a shower, so, in additon to a rain poncho, pack binoculars to spot some of the forest’s 68 types, including... READ MORE

Oversized flora, rushing streams, and powerful cascades are just some of what you'll find in El Yunque, which gets 100 billion gallons of precipitation annually. Two of the island's highest picos (peaks), El Toro and El Yunque, are also here, rising over 3,500 feet amid the more than 28,000 lush acres that encompass four major forest types, roughly stratified by elevation.

These ecosystems are home to thousands of native plants, including 150 fern and 240 tree species—88 of them rare and endemic, 23 of them found here exclusively. There are no monkeys or large cats (and no poisonous snakes, either). Rather, El Yunque is populated with small creatures, some of which—like the cotorra (the island’s greatly endangered green parrot) and the culebrón (Puerto Rican boa)—exist nowhere else on Earth.

The bird-watching is especially good after a shower, so, in additon to a rain poncho, pack binoculars to spot some of the forest’s 68 types, including the Puerto Rican tody, lizard cuckoo, and sharp-shinned hawk, as well as five species of hummingbirds. Rivers and streams provide aquatic habitats for freshwater snails, shrimp, and crabs. The forest's 1,200 species of insects—from ants to beetles to flies—provide food for some of the 14 different types of lizards, geckos among them. In the evening, millions of inch-long coquís (tree frogs) begin their calls.

The best way to experience all this nature is on a hike. The forest’s 13 official trails, some of which are again open after Hurricane María, are short and easy to navigate. Although not as immersive as a hike, a leisurely drive-through is also gratifying. Along the way, you'll encounter beautiful waterfalls; hibiscus, banana, and orchid plants; and the occasional vista. Be sure to stop and climb the winding stairs of Yokahu Tower for breathtaking views of the rain forest and the island.

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Quick Facts

Rte. 191, Km 4
Río Grande, 00745, Puerto Rico

787-888–1880

www.fs.usda.gov/main/elyunque/home

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Free

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