Enter Taiwan’s treasure trove of nature – Taroko National Park! The arguable most beautiful hiking trails on the islands are to be found here and is a trip every Taiwan traveler just has to make!
The National Park is named after the local Truku aboriginal tribe and beside a breathtaking nature, other attractions are the aboriginal settlements, temples and museums. However, Taroko Gorge mountain and the cliffs formed by the clear blue stream of Liwu River (立霧溪) are the true reason this trip is a must-go. Let’s introduce to you another hiking adventure!
Taroko National Park covers an area of 920 km2 and is part of the 3 counties of Hualian (花蓮縣), Nantou (南投縣) and Taichung City (台中市). The area is also famous for Taiwanese marble. When the Philippine Oceanic Plate and Eurasian Continental Plate collided about 3 million years ago, the high pressure turned the original limestone rock into marble, which, together with the shaping power of the Liwu river formed the iconic gorge valley the park is so famous for. And since the river is still digging deeper erosion into the valley, the gorge is still rising!
There is no entrance fee to the park!
Hotels in Taroko National Park
If you wish to stay over in the area, there are 3 hotels in the valley with a varying array of prices and services. The one we stayed at is the Tianxiang Youth Activity Center which serves now as a hostel (with a very nice breakfast buffet ;D). Another option in the higher price range is the Silks Place Taroko Hotel also located in Tianxiang. The last option is the Taroko Village Hotel, which has a aboriginal style theme as is also run by staff with aboriginal roots on the top of the mountain Buluowan.
Although not located directly in the park, there is also the option to stay in the city of Hualian, where more different styles of accommodation is available, or closer to the entrance to the park around Xincheng Taroko Train Station.
The Shrine of Eternal Spring
Aside from the overall stunning flora, there are also 34 species to find in the Taroko National Park that are unique to Taiwan. This includes the Taiwanese black bear, the Formosan Macaque (and they can be quite bold and snatch your food away if you don’t take care) and up to 144 bird species.
At an altitude of 85 meters, you can easily reach the Shrine of Eternal Spring (or Changchun Shrine) via the Central Cross-Island Highway, just take the West Exit of the Changchun Tunnel and turn left (south), you can park your car beside the river. The shrine is named after the waterfalls that make this place o iconic, flowing all year around.
The Changchun Shrine commemorates the 226 military veterans who died constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway under great endurance in the year of 1956 to 1960. The pavilion next to the shrine was destroyed by a cliff collapse in 1987, but rebuilt in the following 10 years and is open to the public again.
Behind the shrine there are stairs leading to several other scenic spots, including the Guanyin Cave, the Taroko Tower, the highest point of the structures that is the Bells Tower, as well as to a bridge which is takes you up to the Changuang Zen Monastery. The 1.3 km trail is constructed as a loop and takes about 50 minutes to complete if you walk without hurry.
There is also the option to start the trail at the monastery, which will be less exhausting as the path leads down. However, the path is quite steep and especially the stairs can be treacherous if it is raining, we advice to visit the area on a clear day and with proper shoe equipment.