El Yunque Journals

Rhapsody in Green

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A September 2005 trip to El Yunque by Jose Kevo

El Yunque National Forest Photo, El Yunque, Puerto Rico More Photos
Quote: The convincing experience? Forego tourist excursions, rent a car, and explore to your heart's content! Wantonness, in the wilderness, of El Yunque's rainforest.

Rhapsody in Green

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Overview

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
 Early risers usually encounter the island still sleeping in Puerto Rico, a chance to linger with inappropriate stares when no one's the wiser. Perhaps that's why salsa, resounding from the car stereo, faded into nothingness once entering the foothills. Making presence known would've compromised intimacy of the stolen moment. The road wasn't bashful, commanding full attention scrambling upward through the Luquillo Mountains. Cavorting shadows saturated with a stimulating zephyr illustrated the fringed peaks and valleys, all quite the overture for simply reachi...Read More

El Yunque National Forest

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Attraction | "Tourist Excursions vs. Independent Exploring"

El Yunque National Forest Photo, El Yunque, Puerto Rico
Quote:
Puerto Rico's most popular tourist excursion combines a morning in El Yunque followed by an afternoon visit to Luquillo Beach. Tour operators are abundant and often have represenatives in larger hotels and resorts. Pick-up a quarterly guide of Qué Pasa or visit the official Tourism website to get company listings. Shopping for best prices is recommended since $50 per person is average base rate and usually doesn't include lunch. My first El Yunque experience came through one of these excursions back in '94. From current observations, scheduled events don't appear to have changed except that now ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 12, 2005

El Yunque National Forest
Road 191, Off Highway 3 To Luquillo Beach
Palmer, Puerto Rico 00721
(787) 888-1880

El Portal Tropical Forest Center

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Attraction

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Just inside the forest along Highway 191 is the turn-off for El Portal Tropical Forest Center, open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for kids and seniors. Otherwise, the park is free to the public. Built like an open-air cathedral clinging to the side of a mountain, the facility opened in '96, and was short-lived thanks to Hurricane George of '98. Rebuilt even better, excursion vans filled with tourists line up at the gate for opening. For those familiar with garden tropicals, the tour begins around the landscaped parking lots with labeled exotic plants and flowers. The elevated walkway entering the center passes through a section of e...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 12, 2005

El Portal Tropical Forest Center
PR 191
El Yunque, Puerto Rico

El Yunque National Forest

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Attraction | "Big Tree Trail"

El Yunque National Forest Photo, El Yunque, Puerto Rico
Quote:
A great hiking introduction comes with the first official trail route appearing at Highway 191's 10.2km marker. Big Tree Trail is just under a mile and classified as moderate difficulty because of some fairly steep sections making for uphill scrambles on the return. The path is paved and was one of the best maintained, including hand railings where needed. Information placards are scattered along the trail's first half, detailing significance of various tree species thriving in the Tabonuco Forest below 2,000 feet. Farther off-trail, some of these protected, towering hardwoods date a 1,000 years old, outliving relatives that used to luxuriate the island be...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 12, 2005

El Yunque National Forest
Road 191, Off Highway 3 To Luquillo Beach
Palmer, Puerto Rico 00721
(787) 888-1880

El Yunque National Forest

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Attraction | "Mt. Britton Trail"

El Yunque National Forest Photo, El Yunque, Puerto Rico
Quote:
From many vantage points within the forest, a lookout tower can be seen crowning a distant headland with likelihood of exceptional vistas from the summit. Who could deny such invitation that eventually surpassed any ground-level expectations? However, this one isn't for party poopers, so be prepared to suck it up! The Mt. Britton Trail is by far the most demanding hike within the system and exceeds classification as one of two challenging exploration opportunities. Highway 191 terminates at 13km, where a small access road veers to the right, and a trail head for Mt. Britton is just beyond. Parking is along the narrow passageway, and an elderly park employee was always stan...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 12, 2005

El Yunque National Forest
Road 191, Off Highway 3 To Luquillo Beach
Palmer, Puerto Rico 00721
(787) 888-1880

Side Trails and Park Services

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
For sake of curiosity or convenience, there are numerous options available using side trails that can be pleasant rambles or shortcuts for piecing together an extended hike. Trailheads and intersections are marked with maps, somewhat misleading when trails weren't to scale, appearing much longer than what was actually found. And unless a person is sorely out of shape, actual completions of trails averaged half the listed times. Baño de Oro TrailOne of the most enjoyable hikes passes along a pair of spring-fed stone pools built during the Depression as public swimming holes. Baño Grande is across from Palo Colorado Information Center ...Read More

Hot Pursuit! The El Yunque Trail

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Story/Tip

El Yunque National Forest Photo, El Yunque, Puerto Rico
Quote:
When scheming adventures, hiking El Yunque Trail had escaped considerations. The island's most treasured peak held unachieveable status as something to be marveled from afar, not traversed by greenhorns. Locals depicted the ambitious effort almost forbiddingly, and I was content until daring the system's other challenging course. The Mt. Britton Trail was intense, worth every huff-and-puff-step for the tower's panoramas, including across the valley towards El Yunque. There was no second-guessing what had to be done. Satisfied only two cars were in the Palo Colorado parking lot at 7:50am the following morning, an intimate hush permeated the...Read More

From the Gardner Within...

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Story/Tip

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Unbelievably true, pulling over along Highway 191 for taking a closer look confirmed the obvious. Vibrant red hibiscus blossoms were dangling overhead from tree-sized branches, and I smirked with envy. Living in the Middle of Nowhere, tropical plants have became my pilot of escape, a transport to all that's greener and warmer on the other side. Thanks to garden centers in stores like Wal-Mart, basic tropicals, including hibiscus, are turning up in homes all across America. As a self-confessed plant junky, my collection has been "on-growing." Lowe's Home Improvement Center has became my new quick fix source with healthier plants available with 1-year guarantees, ...Read More

About the Writer

Jose Kevo

Jose Kevo
Middle-of-Nowhere, Missouri

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