El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the national forest system, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Puerto Rico.
There is no wet or dry season in El Yunque, with year-round rain. We would be sitting on the beach in Fajardo in dazzling sunshine, looking up at rain pounding the El Yunque peak and surrounding high ground not that many miles away.
Like Colorado, the mountains really do create their own weather.
Due to the popularity, the USFS only allows 200 cars in the upper section of the forest, then they close a gate until 30 cars have left and then they let another 30 cars in. This takes roughly an hour and a half for 30 to exit, and they turn away all other cars – you can’t just sit there in your car at the gate and wait.
Makes sense for crowd control, but it sucks when you’re car #201 as we were. It really sucks to be the poor ranger who gets to do that job all day long.
We weren’t crushed though, there is a ton of the rain forest still to see outside the gate and Hurricane Maria closed a lot of the must-sees inside the gate. The final section of the hike to El Yunque peak is closed, the Britton Hill tower is closed, the entire La Mina recreation area is closed, the Big Tree Trail is closed, the list goes on.
Instead, head past the visitor center and make a left on 988 towards Sabana. The road takes you through lush rainforest, and a stop at Puente Roto is a winner, along with a short hike from the Angelito trailhead down to Rio Mameyes.
We might revisit on our next Puerto Rico visit, but we feel that we got enough of the rainforest feel to cross this off the list this time around.
We do think that this is a must-do for any Puerto Rico visitor, although it might be a bit of a stretch if you’re just hopping off a cruise ship and doing a day trip. We’d recommend Old San Juan or the beaches, and get your rain forest visit in Costa Rica where it’s exponentially better than here.

Good Luck

Good Luck
Good luck if you want to get through this!

El Yunque Control Network

El Yunque Control Network
A geodetic marker in the El Yunque National Forest

To The Sea

To The Sea from El Yunque National Forest
Looking out at the Atlantic Ocean over a sea of green

It’s Dark In Here

It's Dark In Here - El Yunque National Forest
The rain forest canopy sure blocks out a lot of light

Serious Bamboo

Serious Bamboo in the El Yunque National Forest
Bamboo thicker than my thigh

El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque National Forest
My mandatory sign photo

Some Snails

Some Snails
The snails in here are pretty beefy

Big Leaves

Big Leaves in the El Yunque National Forest
Since there’s no winter season, these leaves just grow and grow and grow

Rain Goes Somewhere

Rain Goes Somwhere
The Rio Mameyes flows strong with rain coming down from the mountains

I Love Graffiti

I Love Graffiti
I know it’s an eyesore to most, but I do enjoy photographing graffiti

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