Taroko Gorge is one of the top destinations in Taiwan to visit. If you have visited the Grand Canyon in the United States, Taroko Gorge would be equivalent to the Grand Canyon of Taiwan. The sheer gorges of Taroko will take your breath away in an instant.
If you are driving from Taichung City, the mountainous landscape changes noticeably along the way. As you approach Taroko National Park from the west, you will notice there are more trees and shrubs on the mountains and hills, and vegetations are vastly different from the central mountain ranges. You would even get a feeling that you were in Hawaii instead of Taiwan!
The Taroko area officially became a national park in November 1986. The park has an area of over 92,000 hectares covering mostly the Northern part of the Central Mountain Range. The beautiful gorges in the park stand 3000 meters above sea level. Liwu river runs through the Taroko Gorge and, along with it, comes with many natural wonders and beauty. Over the years, the erosions by the Liwu River have created the magnificent gorges and canyons we see today at the Taroko Gorge. Around the years 1680 to 1740, the Taroko (Truku) aboriginal tribe migrated from the west of Taiwan and crossed the Central Mountain Range to settle in the Taroko area. Truku tribe were highly skilled hunters and also experienced in fishing. There were over 79 Truku tribe villages discovered across the Taroko region.
Three must-visit scenic spots at Taroko National Park:
Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong)
In our view, this is the best spot to admire the breathtaking gorges, the gushing waters of the Liwu River, and the magnificent marbles that were formed by mother nature at Taroko Gorge. The Tunnel of Nine Turns was initially a part of the Central Cross-Island Highway. As this part of the highway provided the best sceneries of Taroko Gorge, the government decided to separate vehicles and pedestrians so that visitors to Taroko can enjoy the marvelous landscapes without having to fight for their ways with cars.
There is, however, no parking at the entrance of the Tunnel of Nine Turns. The best way to get there is either taking a bus, riding on a scooter, or if you have to drive, follow the signs near the Tunnel of Nine Turns, and they will direct you to the nearest parking spots. You will then need to take a short walk to get to the tunnel. Walking through the tunnel takes about 30 minutes from the entrance to the end of the tunnel (currently, the last section of the tunnel is closed).
Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou) Trail
Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou) is another great trail in Taroko National Park to view the Liwu River and gorgeous landscapes. Swallow Grotto Trail is at the narrowest part of the gorge, where the powerful flow of the Liwu River erodes the cliffs over time. Caves and potholes form as a result of the erosions, and these caves provide a perfect nesting place for many pacific swallows. The swallows fly in and out of these caves, making it a lot more fun to walk on this trail.
Walking from the entrance of Swallow Grotto Trail to Jinheng Bridge is about 1.37km in length. As you walk along the trail, you will notice a rock representing the face of an Indian Chief (Indian Chieftain’s Profile Rock). This rock was carved by mother nature as a result of erosions by the river over millions of years.
Because of many falling rocks and landslides, the park recommends visitors to Swallow Grotto wear safety helmets. The helmets are available for visitors to borrow free of charge at the following locations:
– Xipan Service Station | 07:00 – 17:30
– Tianxiang Service Station | 09:00 – 16:00
– Buluowan Service Station | 08:30 – 16:30
– Hehuanshan Service Station | 08:30 – 16:30
– Taroko National Park Visitor’s Center | 08:30 – 17:00
– Taroko National Park Headquarters | 17:00 – 19:00
Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine
As you drive on the main road through Taroko Gorge, you will be able to see the Changchun Eternal Spring Shrine, where the spring water gushes out from the shrine into a waterfall. The running water never stops; that is why the shrine is called Eternal Spring Shrine. This shrine was built to commemorate 226 veterans who lost their lives while constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway during 1956-1960.
The start of the trail begins at the Old Changchun Bridge. After you cross the bridge, the trail goes uphill and can get quite steep. This trail is suitable for visitors who have a moderate level of fitness ability. One hour is usually the norm for a person to complete this trail. Head to the back of the shrine, climb a flight of stairs, and you will pass Guanyin Cave. Inside there is a small temple to remember the lost lives of veterans who helped to build the Central Cross-Island Highway. Along the Guanyin Cave path, there are observation spots where you can look down, and you will see Liwu River and its surroundings. After Guanyin Cave, another flight of stairs leads you to the Taroko Tower and Bell Tower, which is the highest point of the trail. Go right to the top of the Bell Tower, and you will find a gorgeous view of Taroko Gorge!
Besides the top 3 attractions that you must visit at the Taroko Gorge, there are many more places to explore. You can spend one whole day to hike the trails of the national park. You can spend half a day visiting Buluowan, where you can learn more about the people of the Taroko Tribe. Do not miss out on this natural wonder of Taiwan while you are visiting the East Coast of Taiwan!
If you are ready to see Taroko Gorge up-close, be sure to book our Taipei to Beautiful Yilan and Taroko Gorge Tour with one of our friendly local Tour Guide.