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Puerto Rico Day Trips Travel Guide

New Rules for Visiting El Yunque National Forest

Beginning in July 2020, in order to visit the trails and recreation areas along Road 191 on the north side of EL Yunque, you need to make a reservation on Recreation.gov or via their mobile app.

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the US National Forest System. This beautiful area is made up of about 29,000 acres full of breathtaking scenery, crystal clear rivers, waterfalls, viewing towers, trails, and peaks to explore year-round. While this large forest spreads through many towns on the eastern end of Puerto Rico, the main recreation areas are located along Road 191 on the north side of El Yunque. This area is referred to as the “La Mina Recreation Area” by the Forest Service.

El Yunque National Forest

Though the hurricanes of 2017 severely damaged the forest and many of the trails, a good amount of progress had been made to repair and reopen the forest to visitors. But in 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic hit and, out of health concerns, El Yunque National Forest was closed to the public. In an effort to re-open the forest, and yet keep the health and safety of the public and the employees a priority, they have enacted new rules for visiting for forest’s main recreation areas.

El Yunque National Forest

Controlled Access Areas on Road 191 on North Side of El Yunque

The busiest parts of El Yunque National Forest are the trails and recreation areas on Road 191 on the North Side of El Yunque in the “La Mina Recreation Area”. Points of interest (that are currently open) in this area include La Coca Falls, La Coca Trail, Juan Diego Trail, Caimitillo Trail (partially open), Baño de Oro, Baño Grande, Mount Britton Tower & trail, Mount Britton spur, the upper part of El Yunque Trail, and the peak of El Yunque.

Access to this area is now being controlled using a reservation ticket system for visitors. Because these are the most popular spots in the forest, they really need to limit visitor capacity to maintain a healthy and safe forest experience for all. And, due to some areas still being close, there are limited parking spaces available. This will be accomplished by an online reservation system through Recreation.gov or the mobile app. Reservations need to be made in advance of your visit.

All private vehicles will need a reservation ticket to enter the forest. Tickets are per vehicle, not per person. There are NO drive-up, on-site, nor first-come first-served ticket sales. You must pre-purchase your ticket via the web site or phone app.

El Yunque National Forest

When you are planning your visit to the forest, access Recreation.gov or the mobile app, to create your account, and buy your ticket. Tickets will be available 30 days in advance of the entry date at 10am ET on a rolling daily window. A limited number of tickets are set aside and made available (for on-line purchase) 24 hours in advance of the entrance time each day. So if the day you want to go is sold out ahead of time, just check back at about 8am, 1 day before and there may be tickets!

There are about 300 reservations per day — You can enter any time between 8am and 3pm. The tickets only matter for entry to the forest. You can stay until the forest closes, regardless of what time you enter. When making your reservation, you specify how many tickets you need (how many cars in your party), up to a maximum of 2 tickets per reservation.

There is a $2 non-refundable service fee. Once you are paid, they will send you a receipt via email that contains your ticket. You can print your ticket, or just show them the QR-code on your mobile phone (but be aware that cell service in the forest is spotty). Now you are ready to go!

El Yunque National Forest

When you arrive at the forest, you will drive up Road 191, to the La Coca Falls area (KM 8.1 PR 191). There is a checkpoint, where they check that you have a valid ticket and ID. According to the rules, the person who made the reservation must be present and may be asked to show their ID (though that doesn’t always happen). If you are within your time window, they will let you pass. Then you are free to enjoy all the open areas in the La Mina Recreation Area until the forest closes at 5:30pm.

If you don’t have a reservation ticket , they will suggest other areas you can visit.

All visitors (and employees) in EL Yunque National Forest are asked to wear face masks (covering nose and mouth) if social distancing is not possible. Parking will be limited, and only permitted in designated parking area (others will be ticketed). All trash you generate must be taken out of the forest when you depart.

El Yunque National Forest

What If I Can’t Get a Reservation?

If there are no tickets available for the day or time you want to visit El Yunque, there are other options that do not have controlled access.

On the north side of El Yunque, you can freely access Angelito Trail and Puente Roto on Road 988, the rivers and waterfalls on Road 186 in Río Grande, and El Toro Trail on Road 186 in Rio Grande.

On the south side of El Yunque, you can freely access the rivers and recreation area at the end of Road 191 South.

There will be a reduction in the number of visitors in these areas, as parking at these locations is limited and only permitted in designated areas.

El Yunque National Forest

Details

Reservations to access the La Mina Recreation Area are $2 per vehicle, and must be purchased at Recreation.gov or via the mobile app. The person listed by name on the reservation ticket must be present in the vehicle and have a photo ID.

La Mina Recreation Area is open from 8am to 5:30pm. All visitors must leave before 5:00pm because they close the gates!

As of July 2020, they are having problems with the water system in the forest. Because of this, there is no potable water available in the forest, and there are no restrooms available for forest visitor. Bring enough drinking water for the entire time you will be in the forest for everyone in your party.

Park only in designated spaces. Strict enforcement keeps the narrow roads open.

Entry to the forest on Road 191 may be closed due to potential flash flooding.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 5 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

They keep about half the tickets aside until the day before...When you pick a date you want to go, and they have sold the pre-sale tickets, a box will pop up and says "Sorry, there are no available tickets for this date. Additional tickets will be made available on July XX, 2021 at 08:00 am AST. Try back at 8am the day before you want to go.

Comment by Gwenn on 18 Jul 2021

The reservation website is very hard to understand. We wanted to visit the rainforest, but can't find a day open. Any suggestions? We are there July 12-20.

Comment by Barbara Murillo on 11 Jul 2021

we have an article about Angelito, and it is on Google maps. Very simple- on Rd 988, there is a trail head sign.

Comment by Gwenn on 20 Jun 2021

We can’t get reservations for tomorrow June 16th 2021 We’re hoping we can figure out how to get to Angelita trail. We’re hoping to eat at the El Yunque Treehouse restaurant after our swim!

Comment by Pamela R. Strong on 16 Jun 2021

Followed your advice to 186 south into the rain forest. Had a great time and awesome adventure. Thank you!

Comment by Carlie Manchester on 15 May 2021

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Other Puerto Rico Resources …

Coqui's Hideaway Rainforest Villa in Rio Grande Located in the Foothills of El Yunque
San Juan Bus Map - learn about public transportation in the San Juan metro area

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