El Yunque National Forest
View from atop Yokahú Tower.
El Yunque National Forest preserves some 115km^2 of the last of the Puerto Rican rainforest. It is the only tropical rainforest under the US Forest Service, and is one of the smallest. Still it is among the most diverse of the lands, with mountains, and four rivers, and hundreds of species of flora and fauna.
El Yunque was held as sacred land by the local Taíno peoples, which may have been related to its high peaks, and its 6m rainfall, frequently shrouding the area in clouds and giving rise to four major rivers of Puerto Rico. The Taíno named the area either yu-ke, meaning "white lands", or Yocahú, after one of their gods. Later the Spanish colonists corrupted it to El Yunque, "the anvil".
While much of Puerto Rico was said to resemble El Yunque prior to European contact, within years of Spanish colonization much of the forest was cut down and the Taínos enslaved and/or killed. The survivors fled into El Yunque and generally made the area dangerous to the few Spaniards interested in climbing the rough slopes looking for gold. That and the poor soil generally kept the colonists away over the centuries. In 1876, King Alfonso XII of Spain set the area aside as a reserve. After the American takeover, Theodore Roosevelt set the land aside as Luquillo Forest Reserve, then the Caribbean National Forest. It was renamed El Yunque National Forest in 2007.
To the right are the pinnacles known as Los Picachos and behind it El Yunque Peak, at 1080m the highest peak in Eastern Puerto Rico.
El Yunque National Forest, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, United States