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