El Yunque National Forest Photo Gallery

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The only tropical rainforest in the entire U.S. National Forest System, El Yunque also qualifies as the smallest of all the national forests. But, at 28,000 acres, it can still dwarf most visitors with its density of plant and animal life and the sheer number of things you can do within its borders.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Most visitors drive in from San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, which sits northwest of the forest, about an hour from the southern park entrance. Once you reach the park, drop in at El Portal Visitor Center (pictured here). An informative short film helps communicate the complicated ecosystems at play in El Yunque, and park rangers can guide you to particular park highlights like waterfalls, summits, and hikes.  
Credit: Puerto Rico Tourism 
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An average of 15 feet of rain falls each year, profligating the plant growth; El Yunque boasts 142 different tree types, more than any other national forest.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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A total of 24 miles of established hiking trails weave through the forest, with everything from a half-day scramble up 3,500-foot Sierra de Luquillo or a climb of 3,415-foot El Yunque Peak to two-mile walks to waterfalls with swimming pools like La Mina Falls. Pack rain gear—and anticipate humid conditions nearly year-round.  
Credit: Puerto Rico Tourism 
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Other water features, like La Coca Falls, can be seen directly from the paved road that weaves through the forest.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Yokahu Observation Tower, which resides at the end of a short walk on a paved path, offers a great perspective to take in the park as well as the northeastern stretch of Puerto Rico.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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A narrow stairwell circles up the tower’s 66 feet, with panoramic views at the top. Windows positioned throughout take advantage of the bird’s-eye perspective and reduce any feelings of creeping claustrophobia as you ascend.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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In addition to its tree population, the park is also home to 77 bird species and a near-endless array of plant life, like this stunning, water-soaked orchid.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Backcountry camping is also permitted in El Yunque, provided you snag a permit from the visitor center. You will get wet. We suggest sleeping in a backcountry-friendly hammock like those made by Eagles Nest Outfitters.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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But it’s just as easy to get pulled in by the myriad small details within the forest. A half-hour hike could distract for hours. When you do leave, consider stopping at the Rum House restaurant at the base of the park’s southern entrance. It may not look like much, but the fried piece of pork makes for a hearty, delicious reward for the day spent wandering around El Yunque.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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