Finding yourself wedged between two massive cliffs, you continue along the trail, unable to make any detours. With running water under your feet and clear skies above your head, the only way to go is forward. And push on you must.
Though a trip through the Taroko Gorge isn’t exactly a life or death scenario, it does make for an enjoyable day of exploration.
Taroko National Park
Located at Taiwan’s northern end, Taroko National Park covers a total area of around 355 square miles (920km2). Established in 1986, the region stands out amongst the island’s eight national parks. And why not? Centered around a massive gorge, Taroko offers scenic views, adventurous exploration, and a particularly well-placed shrine.
With a little bit of hiking, even the casual visitor can explore the park’s many facets.
Eternal Spring Shrine
Standing above the Changchun Falls, the Eternal Springs Shrine is the most notable of Taroko’s features. Honoring those who lost their lives in the construction of Taiwan’s Cross-Island Highway, the shrine is a peaceful place of reprieve for those who reach it. On a clear day, the structure also offers one of Taiwan’s best photo-ops.
Situated away from the road, visitors hoping to see the Eternal Springs Shrine will have to work for their view. A series of stairs, bridges, and paths will take you a total distance of 0.6 miles (1km) each way. Plan on setting aside at least an hour to make the complete round trip.
Tunnel of Nine Turns
Running through the gorge for around 1.2 miles (2km), the Tunnel of Nine Turns was originally built to be included as part of the highway. Eventually, after the creation of a detour, the section was opened up for pedestrians and cyclists. The tunnel offers some interesting architecture as well as excellent views of the Taroko Gorge.
Known also as the Nine Turns of the Coiled Dragon, this section of roadway makes for an easy stroll through some pretty outstanding scenery. Don’t go counting the tunnel’s many turns as there are surely more than nine.
Credit: eazy traveler
Offering a significant adventure to those who seek more than a simple stroll, the Shakadang Trail extends for a total of about 2.8 miles (4.5km) each way. The scenic hike winds its way up and down the gorge’s steep walls, providing ample opportunity to stop and enjoy the view.
Having worked up a sweat hiking under Taiwan’s hot sun, the waters at the end of the trail make for a decent spot to take a dip.
When To Go
As Taroko’s trails become slippery when wet, consider avoiding the particularly rainy months of May, June, September, and October. Beyond that, it’s clear sailing.
Temperatures in the neighboring city of Hualien will range from winter lows of 61°F (16°C) to summer highs of 90°F (32°C). At it’s worst, there will be around 210mm of rain per month.
Getting There & Around
Traveling from Taipei, your easiest option is to grab a train to Hualien. From Hualien, it’s only a short bus ride to get to Taroko National Park’s entrance.
- Mid-range accommodations: $80-110
- Meal: $4-10
- Beer: $1.50
- Pack some supplies for the Shakadang Trail. There will be nowhere to buy anything along the way.
- Bring along the family for the lengthy but simple Shakdang Trail.
- Keep your eyes open for the Formosan black bear.
- Bother trying to venture out on the trails if they’re wet.
- Feel as though you need to walk. Look at renting a bike from the park’s main office.
- Necessarily leave the area at the end of the day. There are a handful of places to spend the night.
- There are around 250 different types of butterflies in the park.
- At 8.81 births per year per 1,000 people, Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
- Taiwan’s Yushan is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.
Feature Image Credit: xmatt