The Taroko Gorge is a must-see destination in Taiwan—located in a 19-kilometer long canyon in the east coast of the country, Taroko Gorge is just one of the eight national parks of Taiwan.
The name of this breathtaking Taiwanese gorge means “magnificent and beautiful” in the local Truku language, and the gorge stays true to its name. The area of the Taroko Gorge is known for its rich supply of marble, and the surrounding rocks were once sediment formed when the whole region was under the ocean. Once the ocean receded, the sediment was exposed to pressure and turned to limestone.
The Taroko National Park is home to several notable sites, including the Tunnel of Nine Turns, the Eternal Spring Shine, Jinheng Park, the Brige of the Kind Mother, the Swallow Grotto, the Jhueilu Precipice, the Hill of Yu the Great, and the Lioufang Bridge. However, getting to the Taroko Gorge to see and experience all these wonderful sites is not easy.
The Taroko Gorge road is one of the most dangerous roads in the world—the road itself is carved right out of the mountain face. Also known as the Central Cross-Island Highway, the Taroko Gorge Road is everything a modern highway is not—the road is very narrow and winds through the face of the mountain. Only one large vehicle (such as a tourist bus) can pass through at a time. Like the Guoliang Tunnel Road in China, the Taroko Gorge Road is a treacherous mountain thoroughfare; however, unlike the dangerous Chinese road, the Central Cross-Island Highway is a feat of modern engineering and provides a paved path through the mountains, effectively connecting the west and east coast of Taiwan. The road was built in four years by Nationalist Army soldiers, spurred on by Chiang Kai-shek who wanted to bridge the two opposite coasts of the country through developing a road on the Central Range.
The scenic views of the gorge and vegetation-covered make the drive through the Taroko Gorge Road well worth it, and tourists from all over Taiwan and the world make a pilgrimage to this breathtaking site. However, the high volume of people visiting this area means that there are plenty of vehicles and pedestrians using the road as well—you will have to be careful while driving through this road or else you will find yourself and your vehicle tumbling down into the gorge below.
The high altitude of the Taroko Gorge Road makes for unforgettable scenery, but inclement weather, as well as heavy rains during the monsoon season, can make the road extremely dangerous. During the rainy seasons, landslides and falling rocks make the road impassable. Then there is seismic activity to worry about, as the gorge’s walls are made up of gneiss, schist, and broken marble that could collapse under an earthquake or any other intense seismic event. Many drivers who have traversed this road found the Taroko Gorge Road poorly maintained (as the less-than-ideal conditions surrounding the road can be a challenge even to the most brilliant engineer) and strong nerves, as well as deftness at the wheel, is required at all times.