Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest – one of the island’s most visited sites and a treasure trove of natural wonders – has qualified along with 260 other sites around the world to move into the second round of the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign. Following the success of The Official New 7 Wonders of the World campaign, which revealed the results of 100 million votes and included The Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, and the Taj Mahal as its winners, the New7Wonders Foundation has begun tallying votes for the world’s most cherished nature sites in hopes of promoting preservation and responsible tourism.
Now officially on its second phase, the campaign is looking to whittle down the selection to the top 77 locales as voted by people through its website. We think that El Yunque deserves the recognition and we want you to help us by voting for it. If you’ve already visited the forest, then you don’t need us to tell you about its ecological and scientific significance, about the breathtaking vistas or the rich biodiversity on display.
Here’s a video we produced on how to vote:
However, if you’ve never been to El Yunque National Forest – Don’t worry! EyeTour has you covered. Below you will find information about the forest and its award-winning tourist information center, El Portal. Click on the pictures or links to watch videos for both sites and learn more about what makes El Yunque unique and worthy of being named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Oh, and don’t forget to vote afterwards!
El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque National Forest is located in
the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains, about 25 miles east of the San Juan area. A short ten-minute drive through the village of Palmer in Río Grande and up PR Road #191 will lead you to El Yunque. Covering over 28,000 acres of land, the forest derives its name from the Taíno word “Yuké” – meaning sacred or white lands. From its peaks, it offers visitors some of the most breathtaking vistas found in the Caribbean. Temperatures range from almost 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the lower parts of the forest to a cool 65 degrees in areas closer to 3,300 feet above sea level.
El Yunque’s biodiversity makes it unique among other forests in the United States National Forest System. Frequent rain showers generate close to 100 billion gallons of rainwater a year and conspire with Puerto Rico’s warm tropical climate to accommodate over 240 species of native trees, 50 species of orchids, and 150 species of ferns. Almost a third of the tree species are native to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and 10 percent of them are endemic to El Yunque and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The forest’s animal life is dominated by reptiles, amphibians, and birds, including the endangered ‘Higuaca’ or Puerto Rican Parrot. The forest attracts over a million visitors each year, who come to hike its more than 13 miles of trails while enjoying the lush scenery and fresh mountain air. Guided tours of these trails are available through the USDA Forest Service’s innovative “Forest Adventure Tours” and “Rent-A-Ranger” programs.
The core of El Yunque National Forest remains largely untouched to this day and has proven to be an exceptional asset to the world’s scientific community. It not only serves as a leading research site for numerous studies, but also provides a unique window to the past, when the original forest covered Puerto Rico in its entirety. VIEW VIDEO
El Portal Rain Forest Center
El Portal Rain Forest Center was established in 1996 to serve as a gateway into El Yunque National Forest and to provide various recreational and educational opportunities to the general public. Its award-winning design by local architecture firm Sierra Cardona y Ferrer leads visitors across an elevated walkway and into a rain forest introduction area and three pavilions. The pavilions are located on the building’s upper level and offer an opportunity to learn more about El Yunque and its relationship with other tropical rain forests in the world through exhibits and interactive displays. The unique structure also houses an information desk staffed with knowledgeable USDA Forest Service personnel, a theater that regularly screens a short film on El Yunque, and a book store-gift shop. El Portal Rain Forest Center is available for rent after regular operating hours and offers special events such as the ‘Noches de Artes y Música,’ presented on the last Friday of each month. VIEW VIDEO