If you’re a nature lover, here’s a list of the top 10 forests in Puerto Rico that you won’t want to miss!
Puerto Rico is a lush, tropical island, and its forests are some of the most beautiful and biodiverse in the world. From the towering trees of El Yunque to the hidden waterfalls of Toro Negro, the forests of Puerto Rico offer a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. In this blog, we will explore the top 10 forests in Puerto Rico and what makes each one of them so special.
El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the United States Forest Service system and Puerto Rico, with 200 inches of rain a year it is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island. The forest is home to hundreds of plant and animal species, including the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot. It’s known for its towering trees, unique flora and fauna, marvelous waterfalls, and stunning vistas of Puerto Rico’s Northeast coast. The biodiversity of El Yunque is so vast that the forest contains more species in just 28,000 acres of land than all of the National Forests combined. Hundreds of miles of trails leading to swimming holes, mountain peaks and more, offer something unique for everyone to enjoy.
Toro Negro Forest Reserve
Toro Negro is a hidden gem in the central mountainous region of Puerto Rico, in an area thats also known as the Cordillera Central mountain range. This forest is actually home to Puerto Rico’s tallest peak, Cerro Punta (4,389 ft.) The forest is known for its splendid waterfalls, including the famous Salto de Doña Juana. Peaks are so elevated in Toro Negro that the upper region is known as a cloud forest. Head on up there and take a stroll amongst the clouds!
Guánica Dry Forest Reserve
The Guánica Dry Forest is one of the most important and endangered ecosystems in the Caribbean. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the forest is home to a unique mix of plant and animal species that have adapted to arid conditions and just 30 inches of rain, annually. The forest is actually home to some pretty endangered and unique animals like the Puerto Rican Crested Toad and the Puerto Rican Nightjar. The reserve also boasts white sand beaches, caves and rocky cliffs which you can access through miles of trails that also serve as wonderful spots for birdwatching.
Maricao Forest Reserve or Monte del Estado
The Maricao Forest is located in the west-central mountains of Puerto Rico and is known for its phenomenal vistas of the southwest coast of Puerto Rico and excellent hiking trails. The forest is home to a variety of bird species, including the colorful Puerto Rican Tody and the Puerto Rican Parrot, which has been recently re-introduced. This forest is teeming with history and some staggering waterfalls, like Salto Curet, to top it all off.
Rio Abajo Forest Reserve
The Rio Abajo Forest is located in the central mountains of Puerto Rico and is known for its dense forest canopy and extraordinary waterfalls. The reserve is home to a diversity of flora and fauna, including the Puerto Rican spindalis which is endemic. This forest serves as the second establishment of the Puerto Rican Parrot Aviary, a recovery program whose main goal is to re-populate the parrots’ original natural range. It’s also a popular spot for campers and hikers, alike.
Carite Forest Reserve
The Carite Forest is located in the southeast region of Puerto Rico and is known for its pristine rivers and streams, which are easily accessible from another popular attraction, Guavate (pork capital of PR). This forest’s ecosystem is teeming with colorful vegetation and a mosaic of wildlife, including the Puerto Rican emerald and the Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk, the latter of which are endangered. Take a dip in the cool blue waters of Charco Azul. The forest is also a popular spot for hiking and birdwatching.
Cambalache Forest Reserve
The Cambalache Forest is located in the northwestern part of Puerto Rico and is known for its dense forests and rugged terrain. The reserve is home to a vast number of woodland birds, including the Puerto Rican Screech Owl. Camping, hiking and mountain biking make this forest a special attraction for adventure seekers.
Susúa Forest Reserve
The Susúa Forest is located in the central mountains of Puerto Rico and offers a look into the transition from a moist forest to a dry forest, as the protected land moves from the ridge to coast. The reserve is home to a variety of endemic trees and plants while Puerto Rican woodpeckers are amongst some of the impressive wildlife that inhabit the area. It’s also a popular spot for camping, hiking and is the site of important archaeological discoveries dating back to the Taino indians.
Guajataca State Forest
Guajataca State Forest is located in the northwestern part of the island and covers over 2,800 acres. It’s known for its scenic views, hiking trails, caves and a variety of plant and animal species, including the Puerto Rican boa. A visit to Cueva del Viento is a must! A look at the staggering formations found within this cave will leave you breathless. Guajataca is quite popular within the local boy scouts community.
Bosque del Pueblo
This forest is a beautiful example of what can be conserved when a community bands together to protect their natural resources. This forest was meant to be developed as a mine during the 1980’s, yet an impressive grassroots effort was able to designate this area as protected land meant for recreation and public use. As of now, the forest protects the headwaters for many of many important rivers and serves as an important nesting ground for the black whiskered vireo. For the visitor of the forest, interpretive trails take you on a lush journey through the central mountains of Puerto Rico, and a realistic replica of a native Taino ceremonial court and batey.
In conclusion, Puerto Rico is home to some of the most beautiful forests in the world, with a wide range of biodiversity, all packed into a small archipelago. Whether you’re looking to hike, birdwatch, or simply enjoy the scenery, there’s something for everyone within Puerto Rico’s splendid forests. So, if you’re planning a trip to the island, make sure to visit one of these top 10 forests!