El Yunque National Forest Things to Do

  • Vereda Trail map
    Vereda Trail map
    by grandmaR
  • Yokahu Tower Observation Point, Puerto Rico
    Yokahu Tower Observation Point, Puerto...
    by jumpingnorman
  • Bano Grande at El Yunque, Puerto Rico
    Bano Grande at El Yunque, Puerto Rico
    by jumpingnorman

Most Recent Things to Do in El Yunque National Forest

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    Photograph amazing creatures at rainforest

    by jumpingnorman Updated Apr 4, 2013

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    Lizard by our hotel pool in Puerto Rico (Marriott)
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    You can hear the Coqui frogs singing in the rainforest, “Ko’Kee..” But I was not able to photograph this small frog.

    We did see a lot of lizards though, even by the pool of our hotel and a lot at the El Portal Visitor Center. We also saw snails, woody insects on the plants, lots of birds…but not the elusive green parrot which has a very low number and chances of seeing it in the wild is close to NIL.

    UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!

    Here is a video of the Jumping Family enjoying the beaches
    and the rainforest of PUERTO RICO
    to the tune of the Flintstones theme song, haha:

    PUERTO RICO RAIN FOREST AND BEACHES

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    • Family Travel

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    Yokahu Tower for panoramic rainforest views

    by jumpingnorman Updated Apr 4, 2013

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    Yokahu Tower Observation Point, Puerto Rico
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    Yokahu Tower Observation Point at an elevation of 1575 feet above sea level (at Km 8.9) is a great place for panoramic views of the rainforest.
    Also known as the Lookout Tower, the Yokahu Observation Point was named after the supreme being of the Taino Indians --- it looks like a one of the towers on a chess piece set, and I told my daughter that Rapunzel would let down her hair at anytime.
    The climb up is a bit tiring, but the view is worth the trek going up! There is a little viewer at the top which my five year old son played with, and also by the time we were to go down, it started to rain again.
    There is a little store at the bottom of the tower as well.

    UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!

    Here is a video of the Jumping Family enjoying the beaches
    and the rainforest of PUERTO RICO
    to the tune of the Flintstones theme song, haha:

    PUERTO RICO RAIN FOREST AND BEACHES

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    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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    La Coca Falls at El Yunque Rainforest

    by jumpingnorman Updated Apr 4, 2013

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    La Coca Falls at El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico
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    There is a famous waterfall in the El Yunque Forest called la Coca Falls, sometimes people call it Coco Falls…but either way, it’s a great waterfall to see in the rainforest.

    A favourite stop for tourists and even with the rain, I saw some people walking onto the rocks for picture taking – I thought the rocks would be a bit slippery, but it seemed people still ventured out to it (for a better shot without the rails). But I suggest you do that only if you have good footing!

    UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!

    Here is a video of the Jumping Family enjoying the beaches
    and the rainforest of PUERTO RICO
    to the tune of the Flintstones theme song, haha:

    PUERTO RICO RAIN FOREST AND BEACHES

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    • National/State Park
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Family Travel

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    Bano Grande at El Yunque

    by jumpingnorman Updated Apr 4, 2013

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    Bano Grande at El Yunque, Puerto Rico
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    There are some natural pools around the El Yunque Forest and our guide brought us to a big pool, appropriately called Bano Grande.

    Our guide said that when he was a little boy, they were able to swim in it.

    But now, there are metal bars around the pool, and I think swimming is not allowed anymore. It may be because it may be dangerous when the water level goes up fast after a rainfall (I understand since I myself almost drowned swimming in a waterfall lagoon which turned murky brown in just a few seconds with flash flooding after a rainfall in the Philippine island of Catanduanes).

    But there are nice paved pathways where you can enjoy walking around the pools, and maybe trying to listen to those singing “Coqui” frogs that sound like “Co-gui”…

    UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE!

    Here is a video of the Jumping Family enjoying the beaches
    and the rainforest of PUERTO RICO
    to the tune of the Flintstones theme song, haha:

    PUERTO RICO RAIN FOREST AND BEACHES

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    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Family Travel

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    Drive Through El Yunque Rainforest

    by risse73 Written Feb 26, 2012

    If I remember it correctly, there is a drive up the rain forest road (Rd#191?) that will allow you to pass one of the falls (I think it's La Coca) where you can pull up the road and take a picture of it. On this drive, you will see various tropical foliage.

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    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Mt. Britton

    by Dabs Updated Feb 10, 2011

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    Mt. Britton tower
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    We still had a lot of time after hiking the Big Tree/La Mina trails so we decided to drive to the end of the access road and do one more hike to the Mt. Britton tower. This trail is almost entirely vertical so you should be in decent shape to do it. Follow the signs to the trail head and park there, you have to take a right off the main road and continue driving to get to where it starts.

    The Mt. Britton trail isn't as well marked as the more popular trails but it's easy enough to figure out, once at the top of the tower you have a spectacular view over the park. The Mount Britton trail is 0.8 miles (1.3 km) in length, estimated at 40 minutes one-way, difficulty level is challenging.

    The Mt. Britton tower, named for botanist Nathaniel Britton, was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. From the top of the tower you can see out to the Atlantic, the Caribbean and off in the distance you can see San Juan.

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    La Mina Trail

    by Dabs Updated Feb 10, 2011

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    The La Mina trail is the continuation of the Big Tree Trail or you can hike it down and then back up if your time is short in El Yunque. The trail is .7 miles (1.2 km) and estimated to take 30 to 45 minutes one way, rated as challenging although I thought Big Tree required more exertion. La Mina was the prettier of the two trails, it follows the water as it flows down to the falls. At the falls, you can take a dip in the cold water so bring a bathing suit. Try to do this or Big Tree first, as the day progresses the ship tours and daytrip buses start arriving and it becomes crowded and not at all tranquil. We were followed by a giggling group of American college students, once they were in the water at La Mina falls there was no way to get decent pictures so we were glad we beat them down by 20 minutes.

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    Big Tree Trail

    by Dabs Updated Feb 10, 2011

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    Big Tree Trail

    The Big Tree Trail is one of the two most popular hikes in El Yunque, it's .7 miles in length (1.4km) and the estimated time to hike it is 40 minutes with a moderate level of difficulty, all of the trails we hiked including this one were paved. The Big Tree trail leads to the La Mina waterfall and from there you can hike the La Mina trail back up or you can do that in reverse and hike down La Mina and then back up Big Tree. After doing it, I'm still not sure which is the better route, Big Tree left me winded even going down to the falls as it's more of an up and down trail, whereas La Mina seemed like it was all descent going down. If you do the two trails in combination, you will be about 1 mile (1.8km) from where you park, we had to walk along the road to get back to our car. From La Mina you are going downhill, from Big Tree uphill. So I think it's kind of a toss up as to which is the route that requires more exertion.

    If you only have time to hike one, I'd suggest La Mina, it was the more scenic of the two routes as it follows the water down to the waterfall.

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    El Yunque National Forest

    by Dabs Updated Feb 10, 2011

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    El Yunque

    El Yunque National Forest, located about an hour southeast of San Juan, is the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. The forest’s 28,000 acres is home to 240 species of trees, 150 types of ferns and you may see tropical flowers depending on when you visit. You may come across tiny tree frogs, the rare Puerto Rican parrot or Puerto Rican boa although sightings are rare.

    You can start at the El Portal Rain Forest Center or if you know where you are going you can drive and park at any of the trail heads and save the $4 fee for the visitor center. You can print off the information for each of the different trails from their website which lists the length of the trail, the level of difficulty and estimated time to complete. We found the time estimates to be a bit inflated but the level of difficulty accurate.

    Although we didn't see a drop of rain, this is a rainforest and if you come during the rainy season, you may want to come prepared for a shower or two. The three trails we hiked were all paved and there were rain shelters dotted along the trails.

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    Bird Watching

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 8, 2009

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    Sign at the Visitor Center
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    At El Yunque there 50 species of birds, 11 species of bats, 8 species of lizards, and 13 species of coquí (a tree frog - photo 5). Also found here are several species of shrimp and fish. So sounds you hear may be either those of birds or frogs.

    There are 17 endemic species of birds in Puerto Rico and many other birds that stop on the island on their migration routes.

    A list of birds seen in the Forest include
    * Red Tailed Hawk (Guaraguao)
    * Mangrove Cuckoo
    * Puerto Rican Lizard-Cuckoo (Coccyzus vieilloti)
    * Puerto Rican Woodpecker
    * Scaly-naped Pigeon (Patagioenas squamosa)
    * White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
    * Green Mango: [Anthracothorax viridis] hummingbird
    * Puerto Rican Emerald
    * Puerto Rican Tody (San Pedrito)
    * Gray Kingbird
    * Pearly-Eyed Thrasher
    * Red legged Thrush
    * Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
    * Cape May Warbler
    * Black Throated blue warbler
    * Black-Cowled Oriole
    * Shiny Cowbird
    * Striped Headed Tanager
    * Antillean Euphonea
    * Indigo Bunting
    * Black-faced Grassquit (Tiaris bicolor)
    * Black Whiskered Vireo
    * Pin Tailed Whyoah
    * Greater Antillean Oriole
    * Puerto Ricon Bull Finch
    * Puerto Rican Fly Catcher
    * Great White Egret (Casnerodius albus)
    * Black-and-White Warbler (mariatilta varia)
    * American Redstart (sectophaga runticilla)
    * Northern Parula (Parula americana)
    * Antillean Mango (Anthracothorax dominicus)
    * Puerto Rican Tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus)
    * Puerto Rican Screech Owl (otus nudipes)
    * White-crowned Pigeon (Columba leucocephala)

    The endangered species Puerto Rican Parrot (amazona vitatta - photo 4) lives only in a few hidden areas of the Caribbean National Forest. There are presently approximately 102 birds alive, but only about 40 in the wild. That is up from about 11-16 birds in 1968

    A good book is Puerto Rico's Birds in Photographs (Paperback) by Mark W. Oberle. The book includes a CD-ROM of bird sounds and photographs and is available at El Portal visitor
    Center in El Yunque

    We had no need of this book because we were not in the area long enough to photograph any of the birds or the frogs. The only pictures I have are those of the signs at various sites.

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    • Birdwatching

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    Waterfalls

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 8, 2009

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    La Coca Falls
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    Because this is a rain forest, there is a lot of water around, and some of it falls down cliffs - making waterfalls. Apparently sometimes people swim in pools that form at the base of the waterfalls. I've been in a ship's pool where there was a waterfall, and it seems like this is more fun to think about than to actually do. Because the water isn't hot like in a shower - it is cold. And it can be harder hitting than your regular shower at home.

    A lot of the better falls - those with pools that you can swim in - have to be hiked to. I wasn't going to do any hiking so the only falls we saw were the ones by the road or at the visitor's center. These pictures are of the La Coca Falls which is the first one seen by the visitor traveling up to the Forest . The waters of La Coca Falls drop 85 feet (26 meters) onto a huge rock formation at the bottom of the falls.

    According to the official website of the U.S. Forest Service: La Coca Falls derives its name from its official owner in the 14th century, Spanish settler Juan Diego de La Coca. Historically in Puerto Rico properties have been referred to by the owner name. However, throughout time, names have undergone some evolution resulting in shortened versions. Thus, the property of Juan Diego de la Coca is presently known as La Coca Falls.

    Surprisingly, these falls have never dried up. This is quite unusual given the fact that the Forest has periodic dry spells. Yet, La Coca continues to run freely and greet visitors each day. Rocks are extremely slippery and no trails are maintained around the falls. Two parking areas are available for visitors.

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    • Cruise

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    Yokahu Tower

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 8, 2009

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    Top of the tower
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    The name of this tower is not Spanish, it's Taíno. The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of this area, but they did not build this tower. It was built as an overlook by the Park Service- you can see 10 miles on a clear day.

    Only by hiking can you reach the forest's highest peaks with the views of the surrounding forest, neighboring peaks, of incoming clouds and of the nearby Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, but the Yokahu Tower is a less strenuous option.

    Bob climbed the 98 steps to the top of the Yokahu tower and took some pictures from the top (photo 4), but I remained at the bottom and just took pictures from there. I took a picture of some flower petals, but I don't remember what kind they were (photo 5)

    Regular operating hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, seven days a week

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    • Road Trip

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    Hiking the Los Picachos trail

    by grandmaR Written Apr 7, 2009

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    Trail maps
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    Marion said we would take a short trail. It WAS a short trail (the Los Picachos trail which was only 0.3 mile) - I could do it fairly easily although we got almost to the end and there was a tape across (like a crime scene tape) which said that there were killer trees. Marian said there were no killer trees in PR - actually we found out later that they were just repairing the trail. The school kids that were also at the center were doing a longer trail - 2.4 miles which would take 2 hours.

    The steps were another matter. They were stone and didn't have handrails and there were quite a number of them.

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    SWIM IN THE FALLS

    by moiraistyx Updated Mar 14, 2009

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    Once I heard that you could swim in the falls I knew that I would be one of those annoying tourists. I couldn't wait to swim on up to that waterfall until I actually put my toes in the water and felt that the water was about 50 degrees of pure coldness. I sucked it up and got into the water with the rest of the folks there. It took me a while to go above me knees but once I did I thought I was gonna die. So I finally get to the bottom of the falls and lucky for me a hunky, totally hot man helped me up onto the first rock. From there I climbed up along the side to about mid falls. It was a great experience, but I don't think I'm gonna swim in those falls again. It was way too cold for me. Make sure you wear water shoes to protect your feet. If you want to swim you are going to have to change at the ranger station or already have your suit on, there are no changing rooms along the trail. The rocks along the edge of the basin can be slippery as well so take care when climbing down.

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    YOKAHU TOWER

    by moiraistyx Updated Mar 14, 2009

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    Yakahu Tower
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    On our way back down from our hike, we stopped at Yokahu Tower. This turned out to be a great stop loaded with fantastic views. I read that from top to bottom there are 99 stairs, but I really don't have a clue. We got to see a storm come and go within a matter of minutes. It was so cool, one second it was clear, blue with sunny skis and the next minute dark black clouds came rolling in. Check out my travel log for the pictures series I look of this.

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