Taroko National Park
Marvel at the spectacular gorge and the rapid river cutting through!
Taroko Gorge is a must-see in Taiwan. A stunning gorge lined with marble rock, Taroko offers beautiful hiking for every fitness level. From aggressive ridge hikes with names like ‘The Vertigo’ to more moderate hikes that will take you to deep blue creek, serene waterfalls, abandoned aboriginal villages, and wild hot springs, Taroko’s got it all. More extreme adventurers can also traverse the gorge’s 500 meter cliff faces and engage in close encounters with indigenous wildlife. Taroko National Park is nothing short of gorgeous, but don’t take our word for it. Come see it for yourself.
Named after the Truku word for “magnificent”, Taroko National Park is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful sights. Created by the continual rising of the mountains combined with the erosive power of the Liwu River, Taroko Gorge is a true marvel to view. Besides the gorge, other attractions include aboriginal settlements, temples, museums, and numerous hiking trails for visitors to experience the true beauty of mountainous Hualien County and eastern Taiwan.
There is a wide range of wildlife in the park, including 34 species of mammals unique to Taiwan. Some notable species are the Taiwanese black bear, Formosan Macaque (a type of monkey), wild boar, and barking deer as well as 144 species of birds like Formosan blue magpies, finches, Swinhoe’s pheasants, and Formosan Laughingthrushes (a medium-size land bird). Around half of the mammal and butterfly species and roughly 90% of the bird species on Taiwan can be found in Taroko. Taroko is teeming with wildlife. While exploring the park trails, be aware of monkeys, snakes, and bees.
Entrance to the park is free. Always check the trail condition before you enter Taroko National Park.
HOW TO GET THERE?
The cheapest way to get to Taroko Gorge from Hualien is by public bus. Buses depart from the orange bus station next to the train station on left side as you walk out of the main front exit. The earliest bus from Hualien leaves at 7:00, and the last one departs from Tianxiang at 17:00. This schedule is likely to change, so it’s important to get a copy of the timetable from the bus station before you leave. A 1-Day Pass costs NTD$250 and allows you to hop on and off at any bus stop along the Taroko Route. Purchase the ticket at the bus station, Family-Mart, or 7-11 before you get onto the bus.
Tourist Shuttle – 1133A Taroko Route from Hualien to TianXiang.
Departs from Hualien Station: 07:00 / 08:30 / 09:10 / 10:00 / 11:10 / 12:00 / 13:20 / 14:10 / 15:10
Return from Tianxiang: 08:40 / 10:00 / 10:40 / 11:40 / 12:50 / 14:10 / 15:00 / 15:50 / 17:00
Bus fare: 1-Day Pass $250, 2-Days Pass $400
Journey Time: Approx. Approx. 1hour to Lushui Bus Stop
Detailed Time Table: http://www.hualienbus.com.tw/bus/userfiles/files/149826391848833.pdf
You can also cycle there if you are fit enough. From Hualien city to the entrance of Taroko is about 25KM, and it’s another 20KM to Tianxiang along the amazing gorge. You will experience ultimate freedom in this way, but you might feel a bit tired on the way back.
For the experienced driver, you can hire either a car or a scooter; there are some scooter/car rental shops in front of the train station. It costs around NTD$500~800/day for a scooter, and NTD$1,600~2,000 for a car. The road inside Taroko is narrow and winding. It can be challenging with all the tourist buses on the same narrow road with you. Drive carefully.
Scenic Trails and Sights
Xiaozhuilu Trail 小錐麓步道
Xiaozhuilu (Little Zhuilu) Trail is on the slope next to the lower reaches of the Liwu River outside Shakadang Tunnel. The entrance to Xiaozhuilu Trail is at the eastern end ventilation opening of Shakadang Tunnel; setting off from Taroko Terrace, enter Shakadang Tunnel and walk along the pedestrian path on the left side of the tunnel. After about 330 meters, the eastern ventilation opening will be reached; the entrance to trail is at the other end of the ventilation opening.
Trail length: 650 meters
Time required: around 20 minutes one way
Shakadang Trail 砂卡噹步道
Shakadang Trail is also known as “Mysterious Valley Trail" and was renamed to “Shakadang Trail" in 2001. This trail is built along the river cliff so travelers can easily observe both the rock folds and plant ecosystem beside in the river valley. After 4.1km you will arrive at 3D Cabin –phonetic sound Sanjianwu, which is the favorite of visitors. After the first curve there is a deep pool with clear water that enchants many visitors. In May, it is the season when Tung tree flowers bloom, turning the trail into corridor formed by pristine flowers.
Trail length : 4.1 kilometers from entrance to 3D Cabin
Time required : around 120 minutes one way
Eternal Spring Shrine 長春祠
The Eternal Spring Shrine was built in 1958 to commemorate the 212 workers who died during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway. Its unique location, recessed into the side of the mountain and which makes use of Tang Dynasty architectural styles; creates an end result that is one of the most famous scenic spots in Taroko National Park. Natural spring water empties into the Liwu River below through the front of the shrine, giving it a surreal look, as if it were actually pouring forth from the heavens above. This is the Eternal Spring Waterfall and makes for an ideal photo opportunity.
Buluowan is divided into Upper Terrace and Lower Terrace. You start by walking on a trail to visit the river valley in the Lower Terrace (currently closed due to road construction). Proceed to the service station, the exhibition and Idas (meaning moon in the Truku tribe language) halls, see both the arts and crafts of the Taroko Tribe, and also multimedia presentations. Up the slope to Mountain Moon (Shanyue) Village, the Formosan Lily is probably the main attraction for spring visitors to Buluowan. The Lily season is from mid-April to mid-May. On the Upper Terrace, go through the service center of Leader Village Hotel and to find a 300 meter Bamboo Groves trail, where you can observe the strangling fig trees.
Swallow Grotto 燕子口步道
Swallow Grotto is an obvious stopover for visitors to appreciate the marvel of Taroko Gorge. This older portion of the highway diverges from the new thoroughway that services vehicular traffic and is meant to be walked to fully appreciate it. The Grotto trail is interspersed with tunnels and overlooks the narrowest portion of Taroko gorge where the river is most rapid. You’ll come to appreciate the awesome power of nature that carved its path eons ago. There are three spots you should make sure to focus on when visiting Swallow Grotto: the pothole on the cliff faces, the Zhuilu Cliff, and Rock of the Indian Chief.
Trail length : 1.37 kilometers
Time required : around 20 minutes one way
Lushui-Heliu Trail 綠水合流步道
Lushui Trail was part of the Old Cross-Hehuan Mountain Road. The Taroko National Park Headquarters & Visitor Center rebuilt it into paths due to the good road condition, beautiful landscape and significant ecological value. The width of the path is about 2 meters, which is about the same as during the Japanese Era (1895-1945). This trail has a gentle slope and is easy to walk. It is a sight-seeing path that is suitable for all ages. There is a 30 meter tunnel along the trail, so please bring a flash light. Dense forest, cliff terrain, plants growing on the rock and historical monuments are the hallmarks of the Lushui Trail. Walking on this historic path you follow in the footsteps of earlier people. Standing on the cliff, you overlook the Liwu River valley and the Lushui terrace.
Trail length: 2 kilometers
Time required: around 60 minutes one way
Baiyan Waterfall Trail 白楊步道
The Baiyang Waterfall Trail is characterized by the number of tunnels on it. Beginning with the entrance tunnel of 380 meters (by the Central Cross-Island Highway 900 meters west of Tianxiang) to the last tunnel before Water Curtain, you will pass through seven tunnels along the 2 kilometer trail. Some of the tunnels are as straight as a pencil and you can see the light at the end. Others however are curved such that you will be enveloped in pitch-black darkness for a short time. It’s advisable to take along a flashlight with you in the dark tunnels. Looking out of the tunnels from within, the lovely green Mountain View looks like a masterpiece. Water curtain is a special scene created by spring water falling from the tunnel roof.
Trail length: 2.2 kilometers
Time required: around 60 minutes one way
Hiking Trails –
See our detailed introduction on these trails separately.
Qingshui Cliff清水斷崖 / Chongde Trail 崇德步道 / Huide Trail 匯德步道
This amazing cliff is located between Heren and Chongde along Su-Hua Highway. The scenic beauty stretches about 21km and rises vertically 800 meters from the Pacific Ocean. The cliff is made up of Gneiss and marble. The cliff is believed to have existed from thousands of years and in 1953 was listed as one of Taiwan’s “Eight Wonders”. The route along the Qingshui Cliff is the only coastal road in Taroko National Park.
Among these cliffs, the east-south cliff of Mt. Qingshui is the steepest. The cliff facing the sea is 5km long and is very spectacular. Driving a car between the cliff and the boundless ocean makes you feel like you are flying. The enormous cliff above combined with the boundless ocean below, reminding us of the hardships faced by the workers who built the road.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Take the local train from Hualien train station; it’ll take you nearly 20 minutes to arrive at Chongde station. Walk from the train station for 2.5 km and you will arrive at the Chongde Recreational Area. Due to the narrow road with no shoulder to walk, busy traffic, and dark tunnels on Su-Hua Highway, it’s suggested to hitch-hike for safety reasons.
Trains schedule as following, ticket costs NT$32 per trip.
The train schedule is subject to change; always check the latest timetable on TRA official website.