El Portal Visitor and Community Center
Explore, Discover and Connect at El Portal de El Yunque, the main visitor center of El Yunque National Forest, and the best place to start any visit to El Yunque, for trip planning, maps, and up to date information. It is also the hub for interpretive services, as Ranger walks and talks are offered every day, the very popular Jr Ranger program is always available and other engaging activities are hosted regularly. It was inaugurated in 1996, with the aim of welcoming the more than 600,000 people who visit El Portal each year.
In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused severe structural damage to the building, resulting in the need for significant repairs and reconstruction. The redesigned community and visitor center reopened in January 2022. The 40,000 square foot open architecture is sustainable, while visually connecting with the surrounding forest.
El Portal is open every day, except for Christmas. The hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. No reservation is required to visit the facilities. El Portal entrance fee is $8.00 per person, for individuals older than 16 years old. Children 15 years or under are free. *Interagency passes are honored. Interagency pass holders pay a $4.00 entrance fee.
*El Portal de El Yunque is considered an Expanded Amenity Site, so visitors with a pass pay for additional services not offered in a standard amenity site.
The new visitor center is a meeting and collaboration point between allied organizations, including Vitrina Solidaria, Fundación Amigos de El Yunque, and Eastern National, as well as communities from the nine neighboring municipalities and the forest administration.
The short film “El Yunque: Beyond mountains and seas”, directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker María Falcón, take visitors into a journey of the tropical rain forest, its ecosystems and historical background, through the voices of: Oscar winner Benicio del Toro and acclaimed actress Cordelia González.
Explore and Discover Trail
Offers an accessible trail experience with self-guided interpretation of the sights and sounds of El Yunque Rainforest. Covering over 700 meters, it is the first accessible trail in El Yunque providing immersion for most users. This trail is ADA Compliant.
Science and Conservation Trail
A short loop trail, fitting for easy and family hikes, warm up hikes and nature viewing.
- The Puerto Rican Parrot and the recovery efforts for endangered species.
- The ecology of a tropical rain forest and the effects of climate change.
- Water as the engine of El Yunque, landscape formation, and the communities around the forest.
Educational and interactive exhibit room. Topics include:
- El Yunque Wildlife – At home in the forest
- Seeing the Forest – In Small Scale
- An Uncertain Future –Threatened Wildlife
- Valleys, Hills, and Ridges – Varied geomorphology
- A Forest in Flux – Change and Renewal
- Freshwater Shrimp – Connecting Ridge to Reef
- Soils and Landforms – The Foundations of Biodiversity
El Portal de El Yunque is a place where, in addition to interpreting the natural environment of the forest, culture is also explored, and people are connected with communities and organizations. El Yunque National Forest believes that art is central to this process.
- Forest Levels (Mural/Graffiti) – Pseudomero: combines lush tropical colors with contemporary street art. The result is a visually stunning work of art that communicates everything from social perspectives to natural history.
- El Portalito (Engraving) – For printmaker Anna Nicholson-Rivera, every line is an adventure. She makes cuts and removes material to create shapes and meaning. This approach was also inspired by ancient petroglyphs carved into rock throughout the forest. In her art, Nicholson-Rivera removed metal to produce images that evoke the biodiversity of the forest.
- Elfin Forest (Mosaic) – Ro Biaggi: How can we use art to educate and enrich our lives? This is the central question Ro Biaggi explores through his mosaic installations. In El Portal, Biaggi reveal colorful tiles to present the fundamental relationship between water and vegetation, as well as the mountain and the reef.
- Nurture (Sculpture) - Sculptor Naimar Ramírez creates pieces that intentionally unleash multiple interpretations by disappearing the distinction between people and nature. Ramírez's pieces hint at the various ways people have lived alongside the forest using reclaimed materials and evocative poses in her figures.
- Interconnections (Multimedia Installation) – The work of Nayda Collazo-Lloréns offers a broad view of El Yunque, its density and vitality revealed through images obtained from photographic research. Her investigation included the ecosystems, neighborhoods and communities, historical and sociocultural references, and scientific and conservation programs, among other areas. The installation is an invitation to consider how images and their representation intertwine and stimulate a sense of exploration, memories, and personal connections.
Industrial designer Carlos Bobonis and the Eastern National organization together design El Portal Store. Their goal was to create a commercial space that highlights products in flexible and mobile furniture with a tropical forest vibe. El Yunque reflects Puerto Rico, and for this reason, the language of the space should have the color and dynamism that characterizes the island.
El Portal Rainforest Café offers a varied menu of traditional dishes made with local products that provide pleasant meals experiences.
A 3,000 square feet, the Connections Pavilion has a 429-person capacity.