In Photos: A Day at Taroko Gorge National Park
Taroko Gorge was just a road before it became a national park. And a hell of road it still is. It seems almost sadistic to build such a narrow, treacherous road in a place so beautiful. This landmark on the east coast of Taiwan is home to sheer marble cliffs, green mountains, a raging river, and plenty of attractive spots to take a selfie.
The selfie is what really matters, right?
The park is almost 1,000 square kilometers and most people stick to the road section. There are numerous side trails. Some of these paths take only an hour. Others require advance booking and can take a week. Walking on a paved road would normally make for some pretty lame hiking, but the views the entire way were so impressive that it didn’t bother me.
The sheer engineering scale of building a road in such a mountain range also had me in awe. Life in Taiwan is mostly confined to the outer edges of the island, as the mountains in the middle of the island can be treacherous – particularly after a heavy rainfall. In 1956, that didn’t stop President Chiang Kai-Shek from building the cross-island road. It took the military four years to finish the road. Many caves, both man-made and natural, are scattered throughout the main road.
How to Get There
The city of Hualien, located 25 kilometers from the park, is a good base for exploring Taroko Gorge National Park. From there, you rent a car and driver for $200 a day or do it yourself via motorbike with a $10 rental. Tread carefully, as even the writers at DangerousRoads.com say the road is an “adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs.”
My brother and I opted for the handy tourist shuttle bus (about $10 each) which departs from near the main station. It stops at all the main areas of the park and the ticket is good for as many rides in a day as you’d like. The most we waited for one to come by was 20 minutes. For the hour ride to the park, the driver had a microphone and spoke the entire time. I had no idea what he saying, but the crowded was in stitches for most of the ride. Maybe you’ll be so lucky.
Note: The Tunnel of the Nine Turns is supposed to be the most spectacular section of the park, but it’s been closed since Dec. 2012 due to rockslides. You can still sneak on if you’d like, but the rails have been demolished and the walkway is in rough shape.
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