On weekends, especially during holiday seasons, buses filled with visitors wind their way through the narrow paths of El Yunque, giving guided tours. Many people also like using their own cars to drive around the park, though the roads are often rather tricky. However, the best way to get up close to all the wildlife that the Caribbean National Forest has to offer is to go on foot. This will require good hiking boots, lots of insect repellent, rain ponchos and waterproof bags for sensitive equipment, but the extra luggage is worth it.

There are 24 miles of hiking trails in the forest, but these are restricted to pedestrians only (horses, motorcycles and bicycles are prohibited). Since El Yunque is a natural preserve, most of the forest is not and will not be developed for hiking, so as to protect the habitats of species that reside here. However, the trails that are available pass by some of the most beautiful scenery in the park, including the forest’s highest peaks, which offer spectacular panoramic views of the island. Camping inside the park is usually not allowed, as special activities and events that take place outside of park hours (7:30am to 6pm) usually require special permits with a fairly lengthy application process.

The southern side of the park, in Cubuy, Naguabo is quite distinct from the better-know northern side.  Route 191, which used to lead all the way from Palmer in the north to Rio Blanco/Naguabo on the south, was blocked off permanently by a series of landslides in the '80s.  It is now impossible to drive all the way through the park.  The U.S. Forest Service is currently building what they refer to as a "passive park" on the Naguabo side of the park, which will have picnic pavilions, restrooms and improved paths for the El Toro trail (currently an 8-hour struggle with machete); this should open in 2007 or 2008.  The main hiking attraction at present is a 12-mile, relatively flat hike along a CCC-era aquaduct system connecting the four rivers of Cubuy to a small hydroelectric plant in the valley below.  The views along the hike are south- and east-facing, over Vieques, Humacao, and the Caribbean.  The hike begins at the Cubuy River, follows the old roadbed to the Sabana River, then angles slightly downward to cross the reservoir at the Icaco River, finally arriving at a daunting ladder by the Prieto River.  Rain forest camping is available in Cubuy at a couple of private sites, and there are rain forest cabins available as well.  Lodgings in Cubuy (see www.elyunquehotels.com ) are not as large, generally speaking, as the accomodations on the north side of the forest, and are more secluded and woodsy.  

To get to the south side of El Yunque from San Juan, one must now go south through Caguas, east to Humacao, and then north on Route 53 to Rio Blanco.  Alternatively, one can take 66 and then 3 out to Fajardo, then south on 53 to Rio Blanco.