According to the British media coverage, Ta-roko is a top ten must-see tourist spot in the world. Such acclaim is not overstated at all.
Ta-roko National Park occupies an area of ninety thousand some hectares. Over one sixth are high mountains over 3000 meters above sea level.
The park is demarcated by the Central Range. Situated west is the Li-wu River Basin;
situated east is the He-huan Mountain Range, which we will introduce in another article.
You get to see spacious riverbeds at Jinwen Bridge in the vicinity of the Tourist Information Center or around the corner of Eternal Spring Shrine.
You'll be approaching the sea level here, which is also the Li-wu River Mouth.
The stream that you'll be seeing flows through high mountains 3000 meters above sea level in order to get here.
We picked the route that goes back to the source of the stream which is He-huan Mountain, demarcating Hua-lian and Nantou near Wu-ling at 3275 meters above sea level.
Walk down the route alongside rock formations that have been cut through by streams for tens of thousands of years.
You'll first come across the bare and rocky terrain of He-huan Mountain.
You can readily see the high mountain grasslands and forests here.
This was orogenesis causing the initial rock formations undersea to be lifted to 3 thousand some meters above the crust.
Getting washed out by Li-wu River throughout the years, undersea coral became visible after being piled up into limestone from the rock formation bottom.
Limestone became tough marble due to crustal stress, forming an U-shaped valley.
Bilu Shen-mu is a demarcation point where the elevation drops from 3 thousand some meters all the way down to two thousand some meters.
The parking lot is on a big hairpin turn above. Park your car and walk ahead. There is a 3000-year-old China Fir Shen-mu.
There is a Bilu Shen-mu Inn here, allowing you to eat a meal, drink coffee or some tea.
At an elevation of 2150 meters, the scenic surroundings are still high mountain forests.
From here on, the U-shaped valley is becoming increasingly clear, especially at the road segment in the vicinity of Bai-yang Trail where the elevation goes down to four hundred some meters.
You can see from this picture taken on the east end of Bai-yang Tunnel, just how violent the impact of collision was between the river and rock formations.
Tian Hsiang is at an elevation of 480 meters, where the river is close to the sea level.
There are many historic trails and scenic spots here.
You can go through Pudu Bridge to get to Hsiang-de Temple.
Standing at the center of the bridge, you can view the magnificent canyons and river bends.
Getting to the top of Tiang-fang Tower, you can get a bird's eye view.
Lu-shui Trail and He-liu Campground
Next up, you'll arrive at Lushui Trail and Heliu Campground.
There is a geology museum, presenting the geological changes of Ta-roko in detail.
After another short drive, you'll arrive at Yuewang Pavilion. Be sure to stop by.
You'll need to wait in the line in order to get on the suspension bridge. It's really worth standing at the center of the suspension bridge to view the waterfall ahead and ravine under your feet.
You get a terrific view standing above the U-shaped valley.
Tunnel of Nine Turns
Arriving at Tunnel of Nine Turns, you can see numerous types of chasm scenery where the road goes right through the precipices.
Your car will be traveling inside the cliff with an entire fault line overhead.
There is a pedestrian separation lane. Remember not to get off the car along the way.
If you didn't get to take pictures at Tunnel of Nine Turns, there are still plenty of places, such as Swallow Grotto, bearing a resemblance to this terrain.
The best-known U-shaped valley is at Swallow Grotto.
Many Ta-roko photos that everyone is familiar with were taken using this scenic spot as a symbol.
If time allows, remember to check out the tableland in Buluo-wan.
Eternal Spring Shrine
Once you reach Eternal Spring Shrine, the elevation is already down to 85 meters.
The stream coming down from the uphill transforms into a waterfall. It's spectacular.
Ta-roko Tourist Information Center
At 60 meters above sea level, Ta-roko Tourist Information Center is very close to the starting point of Central Cross-Island Highway.
We suddenly have an open terrain as the surroundings are no longer mountainous and dangerous.
This Ta-roko experience is akin to following the stream to get to the sea from high mountains.