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Stretching up to 29,000 acres, El Yunque National Forest is one of Puerto Rico’s smallest, yet most biologically diverse forests. It is the only U.S. National Forest System’s tropical rainforest and offers plenty of beautiful sightings that travelers may realize. With numerous spectacular sceneries, beautiful mountain rivers, and numerous outdoor activities for an enjoyable vacation, El Yunque National Forest should definitely be on every visitor's bucket list. Whether one is visiting to accomplish a goal, get out of their comfort zone, or simply for fun, Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest is definitely worthy of exploring.

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The Forest’s History

Located on Puerto Rico's northeastern side, El Yunque’s significant history takes us back to the rainforest's earliest inhabitants, the Taíno people. The forest was crucial for their survival as it was the source of food, shelter, and water. The Throne of the Taíno’s chief god was El Yunque – the reason the forest was considered a sacred place. Spain's King Alfonso XII promulgated the forest as a Crown Reserve in 1876, making it one of the Western World's most ancient nature reserves.

The former U.S. President, Roosevelt then promoted the site to a national rainforest when the country took the island's control after the Spanish-American War. In 1903, Roosevelt referred to the forest as the Luquillo Reserve. After a few years, the forest became the Luquillo Reserve. It was then renamed the Caribbean National Forest in 1935.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was responsible for the many trails and pathways built in the forest. The laborers faced many struggles in making the forest the beautiful and accessible attraction it is today. The U.S. army used El Yunque National Forest as a radar site to protect the country against the German military attacks. Its hundredth century was celebrated in 2003 and to reflect the culture and history of the original inhabitants of the forest, its name changed again to the El Yunque National Forest in 2003.

The Hurricane And Yunque National Forest

The El Yunque National Forest has suffered several hits by hurricanes, but the one that occurred in 2017 led to the site's immense damage. Trees found in this beautiful forest were rooted out, the forest's pathways were damaged due to landfalls, and the incredible animals and plants were put in danger. The good news? The forest is already on the safe path to achieving full recovery as the vegetation is now lush and green. Most of the park’s trails have been reopened and El Yunque National Forest’s environment is still flourishing and worthy of exploring.

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How To Get To The Rainforest

The most convenient way of getting to El Yunque Rainforest is driving, and travelers can always travel at any time of the year since the weather in this mind-blowing environment rarely changes. If travelers choose to drive from San Juan, they should take Route 3 and travel to Route 191, leading them directly to this beautiful forest.

  • Time: 1 hour.
  • Opening Hours: 7:30 am-6:00 pm

Travelers can engage in forest tours through travel companies that offer such safaris to the rainforest, including Adventures, the Legends of Puerto Rico, Countryside Tours, and Acampa. El Yunque National Forest guarantees a beautiful travel experience.

What To Do In The Forest

Hiking El Yunque Forest Trails

Many tourists visit Yunque National Forest for hiking – thanks to the beautiful accessible hiking trails with some of the most stunning attractions in the country. The trails differ in hiking difficulty, but exploring them is worth it at the end of an adventure. La Mina Trail is the forest’s most famous hiking trail, which leads to the spectacular La Mina Falls – the only falls open for swimming to the public. The only drawbacks of hiking this trail are crowds and the lack of changing rooms, which means travelers have to wear their swimming suits to getting stranded when they reach the falls.

Another trail travelers can hike at El Yunque is Mt Britton, which leads them to the stone tower built in the 1930s. More serious hikers get to Luquillo Mountains, taking a full day.

Travelers are more likely to come across flash floods during the heavy rains - come with hiking boots to navigate through the deep mud in the forest.

Explore The El Yunque’s Rare Plants, Animals, and Birds

The beautiful nature of the forest is a host of over 240 plants and birds – San Pedrito, one of the most colorful and beautiful birds on earth calls this place home. Some mammals also thrive in this forest, considering the nature of the forest – formed as a result of volcanic activity. This means that for creatures to inhabit the forest, they have to swim or fly. Travelers may also come across bats, skunks, raining frogs, mongoose, gall wasps, and rats.

El Yunque gives the best of Puerto Rico's travel experience, and travelers have every reason to start packing and have the most unforgettable vacation.