The Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system, was also a finalist in the elections for the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Naturally, when my boyfriend came with me to visit my family, I had to bring him. I enjoyed this visit more than any of my other eight to the Yunque—all because of ten minutes spent in the Juan Diego Waterfall.
We lucked out: A friend of a friend had told us about the fall. This treasure is so hidden that locals, even the Yunque workers, had never heard of it. We spent our last hour there searching for it. With twenty minutes until the park closed, we found a tiny trail. We climbed it until we came across a waterfall and ran into a pool colder than any water I'd ever felt. It was completely out of sight. And it was our own private waterfall—as exhilarating as white-river rafting, more romantic than a candlelight dinner on a rooftop overlooking the Eiffel Tower.
We kept climbing and found several other falls of various sizes, all with pools and all equally private. Next time I'm in the Yunque, I will spend all day here.
The Yunque has other natural wonders, including a dwarf forest, breathtaking views, and other waterfalls. The Coca fall is my favorite place to sit with a plate of ribs brought with me from Guavate (mentioned in my "Whole Pig" highlight). Likewise, I love sitting under the powerful rush of the Mina.
To find it: Drive up Road 191. A little past the Coca, there will be a tiny trail you should climb to the falls.