Taroko didn’t make my sacred pre-trip list as the pictures I’ve seen didn’t impress me.
Upon reaching the Taroko Gorge, I finally understood why: pictures can’t do this wonder justice. It’s too huge, too majestic, too beautiful to fit into a camera frame. In Truku language, Taroko means “magnificent and beautiful”—a well-justified name.
Taroko National Park: A Geological Wonder
The most picturesque part of Taroko seems to be the Eternal Spring Shrine:
The shrine is built to commemorate 226 personnel who lost their lives during the construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway, which was built entirely with hands and bombs prior to the invention of machines.
The Taroko area is well-known for its abundant supply of marbles (and occasionally jades). The formation of Taroko began over 200 million years ago. It began as calcareous sediments on the bottom of the ocean, which transformed into marbles due to intense pressure and subterranean heat.
The limestone structure of Taroko underwent gradual uplifting through plate collision, while rainwater and river streams eroded a massive amount of rock. The mountains became higher and higher, the valleys deeper and deeper. Today, many of Taroko’s peaks are above 3,000 meters high.
Aside from the Eternal Spring Shrine, Taroko has many other things to offer such as Swallow Grotto, Tunnel of Nine Turns, Qingshui Cliff and many trails. Unfortunately, we arrived there just the day before typhoon was forecast to hit the area. The area is prone to rock falls and hence we didn’t get to do the trails.
Relaxing at Hualien + Scenic Train Ride
Taroko aside, the entire Hualien County is magnificent.
Endless range of huge mountains decorate the county, making it Taiwan’s most scenic area by far. The next morning, we went to Hualien station to take a scenic train ride to Luodong, Yilan.
It’s absolutely gorgeous with mountains on one side and Pacific Ocean on the other. I prefer the mountainous side much more, so I’ll personally recommend you to find a seat with windows facing the West (left side if you’re traveling from Hualien to Yilan).
What are your favorite trails and attractions in Taroko? Taroko aside, what are your other favorite gorges/canyons?
Next post: National Center for Traditional Arts.