Juan Diego Falls is one of the many beautiful waterfalls running through the lush El Yunque National Forest landscape. It is also one of the attractions that can be easily reached from the road, making it a great pitstop during your El Yunque adventure. The waterfall and rainforest scenery along this short trail are beautiful and the small pool below the falls is a lovely place to take a dip to cool off on those hot, humid days that are so common in Puerto Rico.
Getting to the Juan Diego Falls Trailhead
The parking area for Juan Diego Falls sits just off PR-191, which is the main road running through El Yunque National Forest. We were coming from Luquillo, so we followed PR-191 south from the El Portal Visitor’s Center until we reached the parking area just off the side of the road around km 10. Because this is a popular area and there is limited parking, there is a 30-minute time limit. If the lot is full when you arrive, you may just have to circle back to wait for a spot to open up.
Hurricanes have caused landslides and other damage to the infrastructure in El Yunque in recent years, so there has been ongoing construction. Before heading into the park, always check the website for updates on closures for construction or hazardous weather.
If you don’t have your own transportation, booking a tour is a good option that will allow you to hit multiple park highlights. Some tour itineraries may include a stop at Juan Diego Falls. Taxis and rideshares are not permitted in El Yunque, so a tour is your best bet if you don’t plan to rent a car.
The entrance gate near La Coca Falls along the road to Juan Diego Falls opens daily between 7:30 and 8 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. Visitors must exit before 5 p.m. We recommend arriving early to secure a parking spot.
Holiday hours may differ from normal operating hours and the Forest Service may close roads in the park for hazardous weather. Check here for alerts and closures.
Fees & Reservations
While some attractions in El Yunque charge a fee, access to Juan Diego Falls is free.
However, a reservation system has been put in place to reduce crowding along the PR-191 route past La Coca Falls. Make your reservation up to one month in advance on Recreation.gov. If you’d like to wait until closer to your excursion, there are some spots that are released at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. within 24 hours of visits. You cannot obtain a reservation ticket upon arrival at the park.
The reservation is listed as free, but Recreation.gov charges a USD$2 per transaction. You can make a reservation for up to two cars at a time. Bring your printed or e-ticket along with your ID when arriving at the park.
If you come with an organized tour, the reservation will likely be included or taken care of for you. Confirm this beforehand if it isn’t clear upon booking.
The Trail to Juan Diego Falls
Hike Type: Easy out-and-back trail
Distance: 0.13 miles (0.21 kilometers) round trip to the lower falls
Regulations: There is a 30-minute parking limit. Please stay on the trail and respect restoration and other signage in the area. Pets are permitted on leash.
Juan Diego Falls was just a quick stop on our way to the Mt. Britton Tower. We arrived there early on a misty, cool morning and were the only ones in the parking area. We headed up the trail to the falls, which was quite muddy after heavy rain the night before. The path wound through the rainforest along a creek and we reached the lower falls before we knew it!
The first waterfall cascades a short ways into a small pool below. It’s picturesque with all of the lush vegetation surrounding it. We took a quick dip and the water and blowing mist were pretty chilly! We imagine it would feel quite nice on a sunnier, warmer day.
Off to the right, there is a steep, narrow path leading to the taller upper falls that can be seen peeking above the cliff from the lower falls.
While this “trail” was open when we went, there have supposedly been some signs that ask hikers to avoid exploring some areas to preserve the restoration efforts that have been done to keep the area intact. We haven’t visited since this work was done. But beforehand, the upper areas of the trail definitely required a bit more caution than the lower portion due to the steep, muddy path with many loose roots and rocks.
What to Bring to Juan Diego Falls
Comfortable Shoes: While the trail is short, it is rocky with roots in places and may become slick and muddy when wet. Wear comfortable walking shoes with decent tread.
Swimsuit & Towel: If you’d like to take a dip below the falls
Camera: To capture the picturesque falls
Reservation Ticket: Required to access Juan Diego Falls
ID: You may be required to show your ID along with your reservation.