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Taroko National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrA short driving distance from Hualien Town lies one of the most fabulous parks in Taiwan, named after the Taroko Gorge that dissects it in the middle and runs through the forests and into the depths of the island for about 19 km. Narrow highways are perched up on the rocky cliffs and dive through dozens of mountain tunnels. The park was created in 1937 during the Japanese rule, and closed soon after World War II, then reopened again by the government of the Republic of China in 1986. Taroko National Park is one of the most beautiful testimonies of Taiwan’s ecological thinking.
Its name, curiously enough, comes from the language of the local aboriginal tribe, Truku , which means ‘magnificent’. The Gorge is famous for its abundance of marble and jade. The landscape itself presents you with an opportunity to travel across the most varied types of terrain, from the aquamarine seaside to the deep-green jungle and onto the highest coniferous mountain tops. You will not find snow here, but travelers should be cautious during monsoon season as most of the park trails are closed for access during this time.
Sights and ActivitiesChangchun shrine (The Eternal spring shrine) was built to commemorate the workers who died during the construction of the cross-island highway. It is a major tourist attraction that can be seen right from the highway. The path to the shrine is usually closed when he weather is too wet.
Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou) opens an amazing view over the river.
Shakadang trail leads you through the most stunning scenery, up to old native villages in the area.
Tianxiang is the terminal stop for many buses and a good stopover on the way to Lishan. You can stay here overnight, hike up to the Tian Feng Pagoda, and explore some of the trails in the vicinity.
Sleeping and EatingThere are several hostels and hotels in Tianxiang, Guanyuan, and also a Lyushui Heliu campground is not far from the park entrance. However, staying in Hualien is always a better option.
Eating options are not abundant in Taroko. The Visitor Center and Tianxiang have several restaurants and tea houses.
Getting ThereMost of the buses run from Hualien.
There are 4 buses to Tianxiang and 4 buses going back in the evening. To travel further to Lishan, you must catch the only bus that goes there from Hualien train station. One bus per day runs between Lishan and Taichung , on the west coast of Taiwan. During peak season, there are enough cars driving back and forth, and hitchhiking is an easy way out if you are stuck on the highway. If you are going to Taroko directly from Taipei, there are some money-saving alternatives
A more expensive shuttle tour bus used to run every hour from Hualien to Taroko Visitor Centre, although the route seems to be suspended at the moment. It might resume soon, so keep an eye on the official website.
You can also rent a scooter in Hualien City if you want to have more flexibility with your mountain tour. Ordinary bikes can be rented right at the park entrance.
Taroko National Park has no entrance fee, although some special protected areas need a permit to enter. The permit must be obtained in advance. See details here.
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Author: wilhelminamurray. Last updated: Feb 02, 2015