El Yunque Rainforest

The Caribbean National Forest, often called El Yunque Rainforest, has the highest visitation of any natural site in Puerto Rico. When you see it, you’ll easily understand why.

Named after the benevolent Indian spirit Yuquiyu, El Yunque is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Comprised of some 240 different species of trees, it is actually a series of forests, each one determined by its altitude. El Toro, the highest peak in the forest at 3,532 feet, has only odd dwarf vegetation clinging to its sides.

More than 100 billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths occasionally pierced by sunlight. Spectacular waterfalls rush alongside its well-maintained (but slippery) trails. There are many favorite spots for visitors to take photos or a refreshing dip in the pristine pools.

No one knows how many specimens of the noisy, ubiquitous tree frog, el coquí, live here, but you’ll hear them. You will also find endangered Puerto Rican parrots. You can see the forest best on foot, but much of its splendor can be appreciated during a slow drive up and down the mountain. You can explore on your own, park along a roadside tower to see the view, or take a guided tour.

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