Today we went to Taroko National Park, one of Taiwan’s most spectacular natural wonders. The main feature of the park is the Taroko Gorge, a breathtaking river canyon made of marble. The only comparison that comes to mind is like Yosemite if it was made out of marble instead of granite. We got lucky with the crowds and weather because it was a beautiful sunny day with few tour groups.
We rented a scooter to better explore the park without needing to take a bus. We stopped at various locations along the main road to marble at the gorge.
Look out above!
Apparently rockfalls are quite hazardous within the park and there are signs everywhere warning you to be careful. Many hikes require a helmet and some were outright closed due to dangerous conditions. Regardless, there were loads of tourists wandering around with no helmets and walking right past “trail closed” signs.
We had two hikes in mind before entering the park. The first was Wenshan Hot Springs, which we had read a lot about. There is a pool of hot water right alongside the river in the bottom of the gorge. However, the site became quite infamous in 2011 when some bathers were killed in a rock-slide. Since then the trail has been closed and warning signs are all over the place. We were curious enough to hike down the trail a ways to get a view of the hot springs. But, we stopped short of the metal gate we would have had to climb over to get down. I’ve certainly become more risk-averse in my old age…
That’s OK because the other hike we wanted to do was open. A man at the visitors center recommended we do the Baiyan Waterfall hike. The highlight being that you can put on your raincoat and walk underneath the waterfall at the end. It turned out to be a little different than we were expecting. Instead of a cliff it was a long dark cave. And, instead of a cascading waterfall, it was more like water gushing out of the ceiling of the cave so you get soaked. Apparently the fissure was created when they tried to build a tunnel through the area and accidentally drilled through an aquifer!
Finally, on the way out we did one more hike along the Shakadang Trail, which I like to call “Mini Taroko Gorge”, due to it being a smaller but just as scenic off-shoot of the main river.
We’ve been experimenting a bit with our GoPro and I put together a short video of our day. We are working on getting more stable footage but for now enjoy! Note, at the end of the video Chiara goes under the Baiyan Waterfall curtain but it is hard to see in the dark.