Travel Guide for Hiking Juan Diego Creek in El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico

Many trails in El Yunque rainforest national park suffered damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017, and the park was closed for several months of 2020 due to COVID-19.
As of July 2020, the park is reopen and we are going to hike Juan Diego creek trail!
Travel details of what is open, what is closed, and the new reservation system for entry.

JenThereDoneThat at Juan Diego Creek, hiking guide and travel information for El Yunque Rainforest

Hiking in El Yunque rainforest is one of my favorite activities in Puerto Rico!

El Yunque rainforest is the only tropical rainforest in the US national Park system. The rainforest boasts a unique biodiversity, as well as spectacular views from the observation towers, and lush hiking trails with natural pools and waterfalls.

El Yunque rainforest map of roads and hiking trails, updated 2020

Juan Diego Creek

Juan Diego creek is a short, easy hike, less than 10 minutes walk from the trail head to the natural pool and waterfalls at the end of the trail.

Juan Diego Creek trail head at El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico
Juan Diego Creek Trail head

The trail head sign is clearly visible from the main road (PR 191) with a few small parking areas.

The trail can get slippery after a big rainstorm and there is always a big of mud along the trail, this is a rainforest afterall.

The trail is right next to the creek, with several natural pools and small waterfalls along the path. The water is cool and refreshing between 60-65 degrees F (15-18 degrees Celsius) throughout the park.

For an easy hike like Juan Diego, I recommend sturdy water shoes (or hiking boots that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy) for the hike, including swimming in the natural pools and climbing around the waterfalls.

The largest of the natural pools is located at the end of the trail. There are smooth rocks at the entry and bottom. Along the trail, the natural pools are fairly shallow, ranging from 3-5 feet deep.

For the more adventurous hikers Juan Diego creek is a perfect cool down hike, and refreshing dip in the natural pools, after El Yunque peak or Mt Britton trails.

Reservations

There is a new reservation system at Recreation.gov for El Yunque rainforest entry. Reservations are available up to 30 days in advance. Tickets are $2 per vehicle, up to 2 vehicles per paid reservation. Tickets must be purchased online, there is no same day or cash entry options. The reservation system limits the number of vehicles allowed into the park to facilitate social distancing and eliminate crowds.

Prior to the reservation system, the park (and parking spaces) are first come basis, and parking fills up quickly. The new reservation system limits the cars, currently for morning or afternoon entry, so there is plenty of parking and no large crowds in the park.

When purchasing your ticket, select morning or afternoon entry window for the selected day. You may only enter for the day of your reservation and the specified entry window. Morning or afternoon entry, guests can stay in the park until 5:30 pm. The park closes at 6 pm.

What is Closed at El Yunque?

As of July 2020, El Yunque Visitor Center, Big Tree trail and La Mina Falls are still closed from 2017 Hurricane Maria damage.

Big Tree hiking trail to La Mina falls is currently closed
Big Tree hiking trail to La Mina falls is currently closed

Yokahu Tower is closed due to COVID. Visitors can walk around the base and enjoy the views, but are not allowed to walk up the tower to the top. Bathrooms at the base of the tower are also closed.

All picnic tables and covered cabanas are currently closed in the park.

What is Open at El Yunque?

Bano Grande, El Yunque peak, Mt Britton trail, La Coco Falls, and Juan Diego Creek are all OPEN!

La Coca Falls, El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico
La Coca Falls, El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico

First time visiting El Yunque? Check out this guide for first time visitors!

16 thoughts on “Travel Guide for Hiking Juan Diego Creek in El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico”

  1. Looks like a great place to visit for a relaxing day in nature. For some reason the images are reminding me to a smaller waterfall that I visited near the Caribbean in Guatemala. Those were natural hot springs.

  2. I would like to jump into that natural pool. It looks fun! Also walking around the falls, although it’s probably slippery like the trails. And I found the entrance fee is so affordable. No wonder it attracts a lot of visitors during normal days.

  3. Happy to know that El Yunque Rainforest park has reopened. It has been a while since we went on a trip and this one would be nice option. Thank you for the heads up regarding their new reservation system. Happy to know that we can reserve in advance and tickets are purchased online.

    1. Yes, I hope they keep the reservation system in place. It is really a nice way to limit vehicle traffic in the park.

  4. I have never been to Puerto Rico and it has always been on my list. It is really nice to know that there are hiking options and things that are beyond beaches. I would love to go hiking in rainforests as it does give an opportunity to see the wildlife. I will add this one to my list of things to do in Puerto Rico.

  5. I must admit that the one time we visited Puerto Rico we spent most of the time on the beach. But then, it was winter at home in Canada and we were thawing out. But hiking in El Yunque rainforest sounds like a great activity for a return visit. Especially if I can spend time under the waterfall. Good to know I would need to book a reservation.

  6. This brought back so many wonderful memories. I loved El Yunqye when I was able to go a few years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to bring a swimsuit, so I was not able to enjoy the awesome swimming that you got to do! It’s interesting to see the ways that the storm has affected the rain forest.

  7. Hi Jen,

    that’s definitely on my to-do-list. I have been to Puerto Rico twice but unfortunately never made it to El Yunque. Seeing those photos, I have to go there next time, especially as I love waterfalls, we have so many here in the Dominican Republic. I hope to be able to hop over soon again.

    Greetings from the neighboring island 🙂
    Chris

  8. How lucky that you got that waterfall to yourself. Is that because they filter people in and limit their arrival based on the reservation system, or do you think people have stopped visiting because of the Covid concerns?

    1. The new reservation system limits the vehicles into the park to encourage good social distancing. There are fewer tourists due to COVID, and now locals can visit the usually way-too-crowed rainforest.

  9. I’d like to contact u, i been in GA for yrs. Ready to come back to my nest, PR. like ur youatube footages… A Proud JIBARO. BLESSINGS.

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