Puerto rico tropical forest: Carabalí Rainforest Adventure Park | Discover Puerto Rico

Visiting Puerto Rico’s Tropical Rain Forest — El Yunque

A view of the rainforest from the Yokahú Tower.

Puerto Rico is an amazing island surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic and is home to some incredible natural elements. From many beautiful beaches, including Culebra in the east, to the celebrated surf waves of Rincón to the west. But probably one of Puerto Rico’s greatest natural assets is that of the El Yunque rain forest.

The El Yunque National Forest, located in northeastern Puerto Rico on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains, covers almost 29,000 acres and is home to a diverse mix of animal and plant species and has no distinct wet or dry season – it rains year around. It encompasses two mountains – El Toro being the highest at 3,494 feet (1,065 meters), and El Yunque.

While you could easily spend a few days exploring this natural wonder, I recently took a day trip arranged by the folks over at Be Rincón. Like many people that go for the day, the itinerary included a little sight seeing and a hike down to the La Mina Waterfall – a popular location for visitors.

Driving from Rincón along the northern route, which includes toll roads, it took us just under 3 hours to get there. Another option considered a little more scenic, involves going south through Mayaguez, Ponce, Caguas, and then San Juan, but can take 3 to 4 hours depending on traffic.

Our first stop was La Coca Falls along Route PR 191. While easy to get to, parking can be a little tricky depending on how full the park is, so be patient and find a safe spot. There is usually a park ranger nearby to help guide you and make sure people get safely across the road.

Our first stop – La Coca Falls.

Parking can be tricky when the park is busy, but don’t let that deter you from stopping at La Coca Falls.

A favorite spot for pictures, the rocks below can be slippery, so be very careful.

The waters at La Coca Falls drop 85 feet (26 meters) onto the rocks below.

The Yokahú Tower is one of two observation towers at El Yunque, and is the easiest to get to.

The climb to the top of the Yokahú Tower is relatively easy with lots of room and places to stop and take pics and just enjoy the view along the way.

The view down from the top of the 1,575 foot (480 meters) Yokahú Observation Tower.

A view of the rainforest from the Yokahú Tower.

Another view from the Yokahú Observation Tower.

On our visit, we had a pretty clear view, but the peaks of El Yunque are often shrouded in mist.

One more view from the Yokahú Observation Tower.

Along the route to the La Mina Falls trailhead you will pass the Sierra Palm Picnic Area that includes a food concession stand.

The waters at La Coca drop 85 feet (26 meters) onto the rocks below – where people climb all over them to get pictures. The rocks can get wet and slippery so be careful if you venture beyond the roadside barrier. The large crowds along the roadside made it feel a bit crowded, but impressive nonetheless.

Our next stop took us to the Yokahú Observation Tower which stands 1,575 feet (480 meters) tall and is one of two observation towers at El Yunque. With a parking lot nearby and facilities, including a gift shop, it is the easiest to reach. A climb to the top (a relatively easy climb with room to stop along the way up and lots of windows) provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the coast.

From there we continued driving along PR 191 to the Palo Colorado Recreation Area. There we found ample parking (but it can fill up quickly on busy weekends), restrooms, picnic areas with covered structures, grills, and trash receptacles, a visitor center with information about the El Yunque National Forest, access to guided tours, and multiple trailheads including the La Mina Falls trail.

You can find maps and hiking information at the Yokahú Tower and the surrounding area.

Everywhere you turn you will be presented with the natural beauty of El Yunque.

The Palo Colorado Recreation Area provides ample parking, restrooms, picnic areas, a visitor center, access to guided tours, and multiple trailheads including the La Mina Falls trail.

Kids being kids.

The La Mina Falls trail is an easy one but the 0.7 miles (1.1 km) hike back up can be hard on some.

The path down provides many opportunities to explore the La Mina River, as the trail crosses and recrosses over the river.

There are lots of pools where you can stop and take a dip in the cold water of La Mina River..

Find a spot to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the rainforest.

Our destination – La Mina Falls.

Visitors spend the day lounging on the rocks at the bottom of the falls relaxing in the sun or wading in the surrounding pools.

The bridge that connects La Mina Trail with Big Tree Trail.

There are ample spots to dip into the cold waters if you dare.

La Mina Falls – a must-see when visiting the El Yunque National Forest.

The trail to La Mina is rated “challenging” in difficulty by the US Forest Services, and I was very surprised, after completing the hike, not to see the point stressed more at the recreation area and along the start of the trailhead. On my way down to La Mina Falls, which is roughly 0.7 miles (1.1 km) in length and drops from 2,100 feet (640 meters) to 1,640 feet (500 meters) in elevation, I watched as many people, children and adults, struggled with the climb back to the top. While the hike down should be relatively easy to accomplish for most people, the elderly or anyone with heart health or obesity issues might find themselves struggling to get back to the top. Comfortable footwear should be worn, such as trainers or hiking sandals and be careful as the trail can get very slippery in places.

The path down provides exceptional opportunities to explore the La Mina River, as the trail crosses and recrosses over the river via small bridges, revealing many small cascading pools along the way where one can test the water temperature (COLD!). Or just sit and relax surrounded by lush tropical trees and take in the sights and sounds of the rushing river, and become engulfed in the beauty of the rainforest.

Once you reach La Mina Falls, you will understand why so many people make an effort to get there. The water flows over rocks and drops 35 feet (11 meters) to a large pool below where brave souls plunge into the cold water. On a hot day, it can be very refreshing.

Visitors spend the day lounging on the rocks at the bottom of the falls relaxing in the sun or wading in the surrounding pools beneath the bridge that connects La Mina Trail with Big Tree Trail. The bridge is also a good spot to take pictures of the waterfall.

When you’re ready to leave, you can take Big Tree Trail back to the top, but it’s easier to retrace your steps back up La Mina Trail and be back where you parked. Otherwise, you’ll need to hike about a mile back to the La Mina Trailhead at Palo Colorado Recreation Area.

Recreation Area.

Visiting Puerto Rico’s Tropical Rain Forest – El Yunque

Make sure your camera battery is charged (or your phone) because you will be clicking away. There are so many great pictures to be captured at the 3 stops mentioned in this article. But remember that the trail down to La Mina Falls can get slippery, so if you’ll be carry expense gear, you might want to protect it in a padded backpack.

The park is open daily from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm when gates close, and the park is only closed on Christmas Day. Ranger stations are open 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Admission to the park and all the trails is free, but there is a charge to visit El Portal, the rainforest visitor center.

Remember to secure your vehicle when hiking and keep valuables out of site.

Additional Resources: USDA Forest Service

Climate change may be pushing rainforests to a breaking point

In the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, new fronds began to sprout after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Four years later, the tropical rainforest is struggling to recover.

Photograph by Erika P. Rodriguez, The New York Times/Redux

Please be respectful of copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, it transformed the island’s forests into tangled messes of split tree trunks, downed branches, and fallen leaves. El Yunque rainforest in northeast Puerto Rico, a 28,000-acre national forest renowned for its rugged beauty and high biodiversity, was particularly hard hit. As winds of up to 155 miles per hour whipped across the Luquillo Mountains, where El Yunque is located, Hurricane Maria stripped forest canopies bare, turning a lush, green landscape into a muddy expanse of leafless trees.

Four years later, the El Yunque rainforest still shows clear signs of damage from Maria, the strongest storm to strike the island since 1928. But the ecosystem is slowly recovering. And scientists with the U. S. Forest Service, which manages the rainforest, as well as NASA and a National Science Foundation-funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in El Yunque, are intensively studying that recovery. To these researchers, Hurricane Maria’s impacts are a bellwether for a future in which stronger, wetter storms are more frequent.

Subtle ecological clues, from which tree species fared better to which forest areas are recovering faster, are helping scientists predict how El Yunque, and other rainforests across the coastal tropics, will change as hurricane seasons intensify. Researchers are also beginning to ask whether climate change could push hurricane-adapted rainforests into a future where they are no longer rainforests at all.

Hurricane Maria was like having 30 years’ worth of damage to the forests in a single event,” says Doug Morton, an Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It really was very different from the normal disturbances that shape the nature of tropical forests.

A 23-foot haircut

To understand how Hurricane Maria affected El Yunque, Morton is taking a 1,000-foot view—literally. In March 2017, he participated in a series of island-wide aerial surveys to map the 3D structure and composition of Puerto Rico’s ecosystems using LiDAR, an instrument that can study the earth from above, and other instruments. The initial goal of the research was to track long-term forest recovery on agricultural land that had been abandoned. But after Hurricane Maria struck, the team pivoted its focus to measuring the historic storm’s impacts.

In April 2018, seven months after Hurricane Maria, Morton returned to the island to repeat the previous year’s aerial surveys. The damage to El Yunque was stark: What was previously a closed-canopy tropical rainforest had become a patchwork of forest fragments and open areas where light reached the ground—more like a savannah woodland ecosystem, Morton says. Most striking of all was how much shorter the forest was. On average, Morton now estimates that forest canopies lost 23 feet of height due to the storm. Hurricane Maria, he says, gave El Yunque “a haircut.”

Other scientists confirmed the extent of the damage from the ground. Returning to a long-term study site within El Yunque after the storm, Columbia University forest ecologist Maria Uriarte and her colleagues discovered that Hurricane Maria killed twice as many trees as 1989’s Hurricane Hugo, a Category 3 storm that has long served as an ecological benchmark for major disturbances in this rainforest.

“What we saw relative to the 1989 hurricane that happened in Puerto Rico is that Maria was far more devastating to the forest,” Uriarte says.

Not every rainforest species was equally ravaged. While many of the large tabonucos and other hardwood tree species at lower elevations were snapped in half by the storm, the shorter-stature palms that dominate the highest reaches of El Yunque’s cloud forests “fared very well,” Uriarte says, noting that their flexible trunks tend to bend rather than break under high winds. Beginning about six months after the storm, a flush of “pioneer species”—grasses, shrubs, and seedlings of a tropical tree called Cecropia—began popping up to take advantage of the ample sunlight on the forest floor.

Those pioneers will get edged out as the ecosystem continues to recover and the forest canopy closes, says Jess Zimmerman, an ecologist at the University of Puerto Rico and the lead principal investigator for the LTER program at El Yunque. But recent data shows that El Yunque’s recovery is proceeding more fitfully than scientists expected.

A patchy recovery

Morton returned to Puerto Rico in March 2020 to repeat his aerial surveys of the rainforest. Although that trip was cut short when NASA recalled all of its field campaigns due to the coronavirus pandemic, the team collected enough data to reconstruct what has happened to El Yunque since 2018. 

The findings, which were published in the journal Ecosystems last week, surprised the researchers. About two-thirds of forest areas that lost canopy height during Hurricane Maria grew rapidly taller between 2018 and 2020, which is to be expected for a forest recovering from a major hurricane. But nearly a third of forest areas that got shorter during the storm have not grown back in the years since. 

“That was an unexpected finding,” Morton says. 

Andrew Quebbeman, a doctoral student from Columbia University, helps survey damaged trees in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Jan. 18, 2018. Researchers are studying the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria to this lush, 28,000-acre tropical rainforest to better understand how forests could be changed permanently as the world continues to warm.

Photograph by Erika P. Rodriguez, The New York Times/Redux

Please be respectful of copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

It’s possible, Morton says, that certain patches of forest were damaged to the point where the trees can’t regrow quickly. Instead of putting energy into getting taller, these trees could be investing more resources in rebuilding their root systems. But why some areas are experiencing a delayed recovery remains a puzzle: Morton says the slow-growing patches of forest don’t appear to be associated with specific tree species or topographic features, factors that often shape forest recovery in El Yunque.

Uriarte, who co-authored the analysis, hopes that the yearly census of her long-term rainforest study site, which began earlier this month, will shed more light on the mystery.  Identifying the “combination of factors” responsible for variations in forest recovery, she says, will help scientists understand “if the trajectory of the forest is similar to what we observed after previous hurricanes or if it’s going in a different direction.

More dramatic changes to come

During the past 30 years, El Yunque has experienced three major (Category 3 or higher) hurricanes, including Hurricane Maria. Historically, Zimmerman says, storms of this intensity only occurred about every 50 years. “Whether by happenstance or not, we’ve now arrived at what we imagine things will be like in the future,” where stronger storms are more frequent, he says.

Changes to El Yunque over the past three decades offer clues as to where the rainforest is headed. For instance, Zimmerman says the number of palms in El Yunque has “increased significantly” over that period. If the forest continues to get hit with a major hurricane about every decade, he expects palms will keep taking over, resulting in a shorter-statured forest that stores less carbon.

Uriarte agrees. “A forest that becomes more dominated by palms will contain less carbon because palms contain far less carbon than [hardwood] trees,” she says.

Such a forest might be more resistant to stronger hurricanes, since palms don’t tend to break under high winds. But other anticipated impacts of climate change, such as an increase in droughts in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean, could hit palm-dominated rainforests harder, since palms are “extremely vulnerable to drought,” Uriarte says.

Grizelle Gonzalez, a scientist at the Forest Service’s International Institute for Tropical Forestry, says there is “some hope” that El Yunque will be able to adapt to multiple climate-induced shifts at a time, considering that it has experienced both severe droughts and hurricanes throughout its history.

But Gonzalez says it’s also possible “that at some point we will get to a threshold or tipping point” where the ecosystem will cease to be a rainforest anymore. Some models suggest that Puerto Rico’s rainforests could transition into drier, more shrub-dominated ecosystems as warming and drying trends intensify.


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Name the price of tropical forests | 10/07/2022, InoSMI

InoSMI materials contain estimates exclusively of foreign media and do not reflect the position of the editors of InoSMI

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After the destruction of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that his company is ready restore the power grid on the island using solar energy. From a technical point of view, the timing for this announcement was perfect. And already at the end of October, solar panels and high-capacity batteries were installed at the Del Niño hospital in San Juan.

Lorenzo Bernasconi

In early October, shortly after Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that his company was ready, if the opportunity presented itself, to restore the power grid on the island using solar energy. It was a bold statement against the backdrop of incredible human suffering on the island. But from a technical point of view, the timing for this announcement was perfect. And already at the end of October, solar panels and high-capacity batteries were installed at the Del Nino Hospital in San Juan, other projects are now in progress.

We should applaud such a response to natural disasters — the replacement of energy systems dependent on fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. But no matter how clean and efficient these sources may be, they can never fully offset the effects of climate change that lead to hurricanes like Maria.

There is another way to do this, and it’s much cheaper than Musk’s.

Puerto Rico is home to one of the most effective and inexpensive tools available to combat climate change: tropical rainforests. In the east of the island, on an area of ​​120 sq. km growing The El Yunque National Forest is one of the most important carbon capture and storage systems in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Maria destroyed this forest too. However, tech company presidents have not tweeted about the need to restore this resource because they don’t see saving trees as a viable business model today.

But what if such a model existed? What if there were ways to make living rainforests more valuable than dead ones?

Global leaders have been pondering this issue for years. And at the UN climate talks, they put forward a new solution — an initiative called «Reducing Emissions Caused by Deforestation and Degradation» (abbreviated as REDD+). The idea is simple: if the right incentives are in place, then people, governments, and industries will be committed to preserving and restoring rainforests, not destroying them. And in return, the world will get more natural carbon stores that will absorb greenhouse gases.

The REDD+ initiative, which has been in existence for nearly a decade in various forms, provides a payment structure that helps conserve and restore forests. By determining the economic value of forests according to their role in large-scale carbon capture and storage, the REDD+ program allows trees growing on the land to compete with other profitable land uses (logging, agriculture) that lead to the disappearance of forests.

The first major REDD+ project started in 2008, an agreement between Norway and Brazil. Norway has agreed to provide Brazil with $1 billion to protect its rainforests in «performance-based payments». Norwegian money was provided in tranches, depending on the success of Brazil in the work of conserving forests. The results have been impressive: Brazil has reduced the average rate of clearing Amazonian forests by more than 60% in a decade. This helped Brazil absorb about 3.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide — more than any other country. And Norway, in doing so, helped to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the world.

But despite the success of the pilot partnership, the REDD+ program is now in desperate need of capital. And in many ways, the solution to this problem could be similar to Musk’s solar proposal in Puerto Rico. Only this time, the innovations are not technical, but financial.

Establishing a market for REDD+ credits would increase investment interest in the conservation of tropical forests among companies and industries with large emissions. With adequate regulation, REDD+ credits could be offered in already existing mandatory markets like the carbon credit markets in California or South Korea. This would unlock billions of dollars of additional capital for reforestation programs.

The development of such a regulation would allow REDD+ to become part of future mandatory systems, such as the global aviation industry’s emission control system being created or the carbon license market that China plans to launch before the end of the year. Integration into these markets will allow new streams of funding to be directed towards forest conservation and restoration, as financial intermediaries like the REDD+ Acceleration Fund will be able to link REDD+ projects directly to the private sector.

Today most of these ideas are only wishes. The REDD+ initiative is just a set of recommendations, while the forest credit market will need rules and standards that determine how forest protection and restoration quotas will be distributed among buyers and how they will be integrated into existing markets. World leaders gathering this week for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, can help this effort by supporting the development of efficient and transparent financial accounting mechanisms in REDD+ projects.

Delay is dangerous. Two years after the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, deforestation has skyrocketed in Indonesia and parts of the Amazon, home to the bulk of the world’s largest and most vital rainforests. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, annual atmospheric CO2 emissions from rainforest destruction are three billion tons; this is more than the emissions of the entire global transport sector.

There is no other technology that captures and stores carbon as efficiently as rainforests, so saving and restoring these forests is one of the cheapest ways to reduce emissions or capture carbon dioxide on a large scale. At the same time, a country that has such forests simultaneously receives other environmental and social benefits. It will be possible to take advantage of this critical insurance against a warming planet, provided that as many trees as possible remain in place. For those of us who believe that the forest credit market can be an important tool for protecting the planet, this is Musk’s moment. We must be as brave.

US territories: Puerto Rico. Part 2 | Russian Bazaar


No. 53 (1184)

Vadim Dymarsky

«RB» continues the story about the sights of Puerto Rico — a large island in the Caribbean Ocean, which has the status of an unincorporated American territory. In the last issue, we recall, we stopped at the iconic places of the capital San Juan, the best beaches and the legendary Arecibo observatory.

During a visit to Puerto Rico, every self-respecting tourist should visit the famous thermal baths Coamo Thermal Baths (Coamo city). Before Christopher Columbus visited the island, this place was considered sacred. Only priests, rulers and the rich had the right to swim in the local waters.

During the Spanish-American War (1898), the thermal baths became an artillery battlefield. They were completely destroyed and rebuilt in the 1970s when the government of Puerto Rico decided to turn them into a tourist attraction.

Today, bathtubs look like ordinary jacuzzi pools. However, their main highlight lies in the naturally warm water, saturated with minerals and useful substances. Therefore, many tourists stay at a hotel nearby and bathe in the thermal waters op several times a day. Rumor has it that healing water relieves many ailments.

The only rainforest in the US and American territories El Yunque National Forest is located in northeastern Puerto Rico. It is famous for its lush foliage, rocks, waterfalls, rivers and a huge number of all kinds of birds, animals and insects. For tourists, very interesting trails-routes have been laid in the forest. More than 600 thousand people from all over the world come here to walk and take pictures against the backdrop of picturesque tropical nature.

In the town of Las Piedras there is a mysterious cave Cueva Del I ndio . Located on the Caribbean coast, it has attracted archaeologists with its rock paintings. Laboratory tests have shown that the drawings are about 700 — 800 years old. Probably, earlier Indian tribes lived in the caves, who were engaged in fishing and were at enmity with other tribes.

This year marks exactly 15 years since CuevaDelIndio has been added to the register of National Historic Places. By the way, the U.S. You will meet the National Register of Historic Places in Puerto Rico all the time. The island has a history no less magnificent than that of the continental United States.

Wildlife Sanctuary Culebra National Wildlife Refuge is on a series of islands to the right of Puerto Rico. This place is better to visit as part of an organized tour and come here for the whole day. The reserve is famous not only for its nature and the almost complete absence of people, but also for its ideal beaches with white sand and light blue water. Here you can watch fish and corals in a mask with a tube (snorkeling), go kayaking.

In the city of Ponce there is a very interesting museum Museo de Arte de Ponce . This cultural institution, celebrating its 60th anniversary next year, contains about five thousand works of art, including paintings by Frida Kahlo, Peter Rubens, Eugene Delacroix and many others. A rare Caribbean island boasts a museum with such expensive and world-renowned exhibits.

All lovers of this popular drink should visit the Coffee Museum ( Coffee Museum , Ciales). An experienced guide will tell you in great detail how a young green plant consistently turns into hot and aromatic coffee.

Mass production of coffee in Puerto Rico began in the 18th century. Due to the climatic conditions, local varieties were unlike any other. In particular, gourmets were very fond of the naturally sweet taste of Puerto Rican coffee. It can and should be drunk without adding sugar, milk, cream.

Fans of extreme spectacles in Puerto Rico are waiting for cockfights ( Cockfighting ). They are banned in many countries of the world, but here they are considered part of the national culture and traditions. In recent years, animal rights activists have been trying in every possible way to ban cockfights by law, but the people are still against it. In addition, extreme entertainment brings huge incomes.

Roosters fight on a round stage to the screams and applause of the audience, not only with the help of claws and beaks. Their owners insert special miniature blades of different lengths, shapes and degrees of sharpness into their paws. As a result, blood gushing on stage from the first seconds. Losers often die.

The production of piercing and cutting weapons for fighting cocks is a special craft. Sometimes the owners of the most powerful and cruel birds make blades of precious metals and decorate them with diamonds.

Officially, cockfights are not advertised, but if you hint about them to a taxi driver or a hotel employee, you will immediately get a couple of tickets to a bloody show, which sooner or later will be banned anyway.

So, let’s sum up the two parts of our description of the sights of Puerto Rico. This American territory is undoubtedly the best vacation spot of all. First, it is very easy to get to. From the same New York JFK airport, the road to San Juan, Aguadilla or Ponce will take about 3 hours and 50 minutes. Since the Big Apple has a large Puerto Rican community, flights depart several times a day.

Secondly, Puerto Rico offers a wide variety of recreational activities. Guam or Samoa, described by us in previous issues of «RB», are too boring and monotonous. In Puerto Rico, tourists have unlimited options. Some lie on the beach and swim, others constantly go on excursions, others put themselves under physical stress during hiking and hitchhiking.

Thirdly, with its service and attitude towards tourists, Puerto Rico resembles the United States. Almost 100% of the population knows Spanish and English (although at the beginning of 19In the 1990s, only 20% of the population spoke English). The only currency is the US dollar. The level of security is quite high.

Fourthly, Puerto Rico is a very affordable country in terms of the cost of goods and services. The average salary here is only $20,000 a year, so prices are an order of magnitude higher than in New York. Most of all, you will be surprised by the bills for visiting restaurants.

In general, you need to go on vacation to Puerto Rico. The country has almost recovered from Hurricane Maria (autumn, 2017) and is looking forward to tourists. The main thing — do not try to go around the whole of Puerto Rico in one trip. So you will quickly get tired. The island is large and the distance between different attractions is palpable. So go west, east, north, and south in sequence.

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