Puerto Rico Day 5: El Yunque Rainforest

Today we headed up into the mountains of Puerto Rico to visit El Yunque National Forest. The rainforest here in Puerto Rico is run by the National Parks system and is truly a national treasure. Arriving at the entrance brought back a lot of great memories. I visited El Yunque almost 12 years ago when I came to Puerto Rico for work. Being back over a decade later with my wife and 3 children was pretty special.

The roads through El Yunque are very narrow and they twist and turn up the mountain passes. You have to take your time because there are a lot of blind spots as you navigate the turns. Our first stop was Angelito trail. It’s about a 15-20 minute hike into the forest that takes you to the river. The river is a great spot for a swim or to wade through crystal clear water. There was even a rope swing hanging off a tree that we all took turns on. I’m the only one that didn’t get wet.

After drying off we decided to drive to the top of the mountain and work our way down. There are a lot of pull offs with things to see along the route. We stopped at the observation tower that gives you a beautiful view of the the forest and all the way to the coastline with turquoise water.

We stopped to eat our packed lunch at another stop. We had some ham sandwiches along with a bag of chicharrones I had picked up from the local grocery store. I have an addiction to all things chicharrones. Apparently I have gotten the kids addicted as well and now I have to compete with them for my snacks.

After lunch we hit a short trail that took us to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. The kids jumped in, swam under the waterfall, and basked in the Puerto Rican sun. After drying off we hopped back into the car and stopped at the only shop up in the mountainous region of the park. All the local dogs came to greet us and chase oncoming vehicles up the mountain roads.

El Yunque was everything that the kids had hoped for. They have been studying and researching this rainforest for weeks preparing for this trip. They finally were able to explore the things that they thought only existed in pages of a book. That is what real learning looks like.

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