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El Yunque

Getting there & away

There’s no public transportation to El Yunque. The only way to get here is by private car, taxi (expensive), or in a pre-arranged tour. You can see the rainforest from San Juan even though it lies 25 miles to the southeast. Driving from San Juan, there will be signs directing you from Hwy 3 to Hwy 191, but the sign for Hwy 191 is not always visible (heavy winds sometimes knock it down). If you see it, turn right as directed. Otherwise, watch for a large sign announcing ‘El Yunque Portal’ on the right-hand side of the road. It’s at an intersection that also features a big sign for the Westin Río Mar Resort. Turn right at that intersection and go through the village of Palmer (Mameyes in Spanish), keeping your eyes peeled for more signage directing you to Hwy 191 and the El Yunque National Forest – there’s a sharp left shortly after turning off the main highway. Just after the road starts to rise abruptly into the mountains, you enter the El Yunque National Forest.

Take note that some highway maps suggest that you can traverse the forest on Hwy 191 (or access El Yunque from the south via this route), but south of the Palo Colorado Visitors Center, Hwy 191 has been closed by landslides for years. Road maps also suggest that El Yunque can be approached via a network of roads along the western border of the national forest. Don’t try it: these roads are rugged, untraveled, unmaintained tracks that dead-end in serious jungle. El Yunque is not immune to thievery, so if you park in a remote area to take a stroll, be sure to lock up and don’t leave anything of value in plain sight in the car.