Taroko National Park covers a wide range of land stretching from Eastern Taiwan (parts of Hualien and Taichung Counties) and Central Taiwan (Nantou County). It stretches through mountains, valleys, gorges, rivers, and waterfalls, but the most scenic area is along the cross-island highway between Taroko and Tiansiang.
The Taroko area begins from a Chinese-style gate that marks the entrance to the Central Cross-Island Highway. People normally converge at this part of the highway to take photos of a number of local aborigines who are usually in the area. Tourists love taking pictures of the locals in their traditional costume. From there, the highway winds through lush mountains and forests, and through tunnels and caves inside the mountains. Most travelers are eager to pass inside the man-made Tunnel of Nine Turns. Cruising along this scenic highway is a blast, passing through a deep valley on one side and vertical stone cliffs on the other side. Another popular part of the highway is Cihmu Bridge that passes over Liwu and Laosi Rivers.
The Liwu River has formed the Taroko Gorge through the years, shaping and cutting through marble mountains. Rivers and seismic activities continue to shape and reshape the Taroko landscape giving rise to cliffs, faults, creases valleys and stone patterns on the marble surface. There are also waterfalls and trees and bushes clinging on the vertical surfaces. There are also natural holes carved out of the marble walls by erosion. These holes are called Yanzihgu, which means “Swallow’s Grottos”, because thousands of swallows perch and nest in these holes during late spring and early summer. The area is reminiscent of typical Chinese brush paintings. Taroko Gorge is definitely a must-see, definitely in the list of most stunning destinations in Asia.
Asia is best known for its beaches, dive sites and hot tropical weather. None of these may be found in Nantou County since it is located at the very heart of Taiwan. It is, in fact, the only Taiwanese county that does not have a coastline. Without any beaches and dive sites, Nantou County is a popular tourist destination for its mountainous terrains, lush forests, rich plantation fields and plantations, and picturesque waterfalls. The county easily rivals the Alps in Switzerland and Rocky Mountains in Colorado. If not for the ubiquitous Chinese signposts and people, tourists would think they are hiking on a mountain somewhere in Europe. The weather also is cool and comfortable, which is rare in this part of the world.
Meanwhile, another attraction within the Taroko National Park is the Eternal Spring Shrine, which was built to commemorate a few workers who died while building the Central Cross-Island Highway. Behind the shrine is the Heavenly Stairs, a series of stone steps that lead up to Guanyin Cave and the Changuang Temple.
There are many more natural and man-made attractions found within the Taroko National Park. Some of these attractions are Jinheng Park, Bridge of the Kind Mother, Hill of Yu the Great, Buluowan, Lioufang Bridge and Tansiang to name a few. Taroko means “magnificent and beautiful”, and this is exactly what tourists will see as they come to visit the park.