El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Luquillo National Forest and the Caribbean National Forest, is a forest located in northeastern Puerto Rico. El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System. Situated in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico, El Yunque’s rainforests are located in the Loquillo Mountains, about an hour drive from San Juan. Home to over 240 species of trees (23 of which are unique to El Yunque), 50 species of birds (including the rare and endangered Puerto Rican Parrot), and over 1200 species of insects, El Yunque rainforest was recognized as an official UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1976. Owing to its stunning forests, wealth of fresh water and the variety of species it sustains, the El Yunque rainforest was chosen as one of only 28 finalists in the New Seven Wonders of Nature international campaign. Ample rainfall (over 200 inches a year in some areas) creates a jungle-like setting: lush foliage, crags, waterfalls and rivers are a prevalent sight.
Tropical rain forests provides us with beautiful woods such as mahogany, teak, and rosewood. At El Yunque, majestic tabonuco trees drape the lower forest while giant tree ferns fan in the wind. Rain forests are also important for the environment by taking large amounts of carbon dioxide out of the air and giving us fresher cleaner air.
Opened in 1996, the El Portal Rain Forest Center is designed to give visitors an introduction to the rain forest of the El Yunque National Forest. A walkway set at 60 feet (18 m) above the ground allows for a view of the tops of trees, and another walkway winds along tree bases. Exhibits at the center focus on the plants and animals of the rain forest, the importance of rain forests around the world, and threats to rain forests and efforts to conserve them.