How to get Tickets for Visiting El Yunque National Forest and Travel Tips
Known as the only tropical rainforest in the USA, El Yunque National Forest is an extremely popular attraction when visiting Puerto Rico. With lush jungles, waterfalls, hiking trails, and being in close proximity to Old San Juan, it’s no wonder why people are flocking here. Because of this, in 2020 the National Park Service put in a reservation system to get tickets for El Yunque to limit the amount of traffic going through the park.
You have likely landed on my page because getting a ticket has not been easy! So hopefully I will be able to shed some light on getting tickets for El Yunque National Forest in a quick, easy, and digestible way so you can enjoy this National Forest!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How to get Tickets for Visiting El Yunque National Forest and Travel Tips
- Where Can You Find Tickets to El Yunque
- Making a Recreation Account
- How To Get An El Yunque Ticket if None Are Available
- What If I Can’t Get Tickets for El Yunque National Forest
- Can You See El Yunque Without a Guide or Ticket
- El Yunque Travel Tips
- Best Things to See in El Yunque
- Getting Tickets for El Yunque Wrap-up
Where Can You Find Tickets to El Yunque
All tickets to El Yunque need to be reserved online beforehand at Recreation.gov. The tickets are released 30 days in advance for you to purchase. The fee is $2 USD and it is non-refundable. Because El Yunque is very popular and there are only a limited amount of tickets, booking your ticket ASAP is very important.
They DO NOT offer a first come first serve basis, so do not drive there thinking you will be able to get in. The ticket has to be reserved online.
The ticket is good for 1 car, so no need to purchase them per person. If there are no tickets available for your travel dates, you still have an opportunity to get tickets, so just keep reading along.
Making a Recreation Account
The first thing you will want to do is to create a Recreation.gov account. Available tickets will be in blue. Choose your date and make sure to have your ticket and a valid ID to present to the gate once arriving on your planned day.
If you see an NR and your tickets are more than 30 days out, you will want to wait until it is 30 days before your trip to look again. If it is less than 30 days before your trip, it will be a little harder for you to acquire a ticket. I will cover this in more detail below.
How To Get An El Yunque Ticket if None Are Available
If you are online and the box is completely greyed out for your date, unfortunately, you likely will not be able to acquire a ticket. However, if you see an NR, you still have a chance!
Every day at 8 AM EST and 11 AM EST, they release El Yunque tickets for the following day. Because the tickets are limited, make sure to set an alarm about 5-10 minutes before 8 and 11 AM.
Next, log into your account and wait for them to be released. Have your credit card information and everything ready so you can type it in as fast as possible to secure your spot.
You might even want to practice this before your trip just to get an idea of how it will work. We actually experience this exact ticketing system, except it was during our honeymoon in Hawaii to visit the Haleakala National Park. It can be very annoying and frustrating – I know.
What If I Can’t Get Tickets for El Yunque National Forest
If you were unable to secure tickets, you still have options. One of the easiest and least headache ways to visit El Yunque will be with a guided tour. When you go with a guide, you won’t have to worry about the ticketing at all because it will be included as a part of the tour.
It will cost more, but these are locals that will show you all the cool spots you might not find on your own and also provide more insight into the park and history. You can find guided tours to El Yunque here.
Can You See El Yunque Without a Guide or Ticket
You can kind of see El Yunque without a ticket or guide, but it is not exactly the same experience per se.
Angelito trail is one of the places you do not need a reservation to and it is a really nice area where you can go swimming. There are tons of large rock boulders and even hiking trails around this area. During our visit, there was a local family hanging out and having a picnic, so it is definitely a more local vibe.
If you put Angelito trail in your GPS, there will be a pullover to your right-hand side right before the official pull-off, opening to an oasis and it is really beautiful!
Address: PR-988, Luquillo, 00773, Puerto Rico
The next option is to go to an off-the-beaten-path gem. It is a natural waterslide oasis all behind some locals’ homes. A kind gentleman charged us $5 USD to park in his yard. From there you walk through his backyard, across some giant boulders, and then you will see the opening of a popular local swimming hole.
To be honest, we could have stayed here all day because it was so relaxing and fun. People were jumping off rocks into the water, going under these tiny little waterfalls, and of course, sliding down the natural rock slide.
Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own safety here. Make sure to be cautious of slippery rocks, flash floods, etc. Also, make sure you are comfortable doing some light climbing across the rocks.
This is not considered a regular Puerto Rico tourist spot so please clean up after yourself since it is still considered a part of locals’ backyards.
El Yunque Travel Tips
Here are some additional tips to know before visiting El Yunque National Forest.
- You can explore the park and visit the natural waterslide all in one day.
- Make sure to bring a raincoat or a poncho if you don’t want to get wet.
- Wear good shoes or sandals that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Bring sunscreen (my favorite natural sunscreen) and bug wipes.
- Pack quick-dry towels – they are awesome for travel!
- Get gas and snacks before entering the park, there is nothing inside.
- Bring a reusable water bottle!
- Download offline google maps for the El Yunque region because cell service is spotty.
- The best way to get to the entrance is by putting Yokahu Tower in your GPS.
Best Things to See in El Yunque
If you are able to snag tickets for El National Forest, here are some of the top things you will want to add to your bucket list. There are also tons of hiking trails to do as well!
- La Coca Falls – Right at the entrance
- Yokahu Tower which offers panoramic views of the forest
- Juan Diego Creek – a small swimmable waterfall
- La Mina Falls
- Mt. Britton Tower
Getting Tickets for El Yunque Wrap-up
I hope this guide for getting El Yunque National Forest tickets has helped you! Also make sure to check out my other Puerto Rico travel guide and let me know in the comments if you have additional questions, or if it is not working!