Driving the infamous Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan
Taroko Gorge is a canyon located in Hualien County, in Taiwan. The road through the gorge is full of blind curves, sharp turns, and narrow paths.
Can you drive through Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan?
Located on the east coast of Taiwan, the road through the gorge is totally paved. It’s called Zhongbu Cross-island Highway.
How long is Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan?
The road is 118 km (73.32 miles) long, running east-west from Xincheng Township to Ren'ai. It’s a mountain route made by carving out rocks, similar to the Guoliang Tunnel road. Recently, a few more tunnels have been dug to make the road safer for vehicles and to leave the most amazing sights just for the tourists. Taroko means “magnificent and splendid” in the language of the aboriginal Truku tribe, a name that gives you a sense of the views you’ll see while you’re driving here.
Is Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan challenging?
The road is narrow and winding and only a bus can barely pass by at a time. In addition, there are pedestrians, scooters, cars and massive tour buses all vying for the tight space. But the highway itself is truly an engineering masterpiece, as it cuts through the mountains and joins the East and West Coast. This is an extremely narrow and treacherous road made all the more dangerous by the many buses that use the road. In summary, the road is dangerous due the buses, pedestrians, scooters and cars all fight for space on the narrow road, heavy rain in typhoon season dislodges debris onto the road and walls of the nearby gorge prone to failure under seismic activity. As well as it's winding blind corners, the road has fallen into disrepair and is constantly impacted by heavy rainfall causing rockfalls and landslides. Along the way you’ll experience innumerable cliffside, hairpin turns, little rockfalls and dozens of unlit, single-lane tunnels. Only one large vehicle (such as a tourist bus) can pass through at a time. The road is pretty narrow, so only experienced drivers should drive there and they should do so at their own risk.
Is Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan worth it?
Tucked away in the Taroko National Park, the road is a magnet to the tourist, as well as a mode of transportation of marble found abundantly in the gorge. It is one of the main highways in the country, wherein trucks deliver agricultural crops and supplies, like a chicken coop. Also, it's the main logistics route for all types of retail and huge commercial deliveries in nearby towns and cities. The road through the gorge, carved right out of the mountain face, is amazing, and unimaginably precarious, with terrifying views downward toward the Liwu River, hundreds of metres below.
Is the weather in Taroko Gorge Road defiant?
Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. The highway runs through exceedingly rugged and unstable terrain. Heavy rain from typhoons often dislodge soil and rocks onto the highway making sections of it unpassable. As well, the area is prone to seismic activity which can have disastrous effects on the highway. Maintenance of the road in Taroko Gorge represents a profound challenge to the engineering geologist. The walls of the gorge are composed of deformed marble, gneiss and schist and are prone to failure under the intense seismic activity. Additionally the area is prone to an average of three to four tropical cyclones per annum, with up to 1200 mm of rainfall in each. Heavy rain can result in landslides. Check the weather forecast. This road is closed when there are earthquakes and typhoons because it is nearly impossible to drive along the road during these conditions. It is demonstrated that during typhoons the area suffers an unusually severe set of geological hazards. The heavy rainfall initiates rockfalls and landslides along the gorge. Flooding occurs widely both as a result of the increased discharge of the river and as a result of water cascading onto the road from the adjacent cliffs. The destruction of important bridges may also occur. An examination is made of the magnitude of these hazards, and techniques used by the highway authority are described and analyzed in relation to the use of the road for both transport and tourism. So, use caution and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
When was Taroko Gorge Road opened to traffic?
Until the 1950’s a simple trail ran through the gorge. Chiang Kai-shek (former President of the Republic of China) decided to build a road to cross Taiwan from west to east through the Central Range. The Nationalist Army soldiers built the road in just 4 years, from 1956 to 1960. The construction of the road began on July 7, 1956. And it was first opened to traffic on May 9, 1960, built at the cost of enormous efforts. Guidebooks boast that its construction took 450 lives.
Safe Driving Tips in Mountain Routes
Give Your Vehicle a Tune-up
Before driving in mountainous terrain, make sure to provide your vehicle an excellent tune-up, most especially after winter. Your vehicle should have filled transmission and brake fluids. Also, make sure that your heating and cooling, brakes, windshield wipers, exhaust systems, and battery performance are all working properly.
All tires should be inflated, and a spare tire should always be available on standby. Make sure that your truck or car is in optimal condition because the terrain, weather, and unexpected events in mountainous routes, like the Taroko Gorge route, can be challenging to handle.
Prepare for Emergencies
A damaging car accident or sudden inclement weather could leave you stranded in rural mountain areas for several hours. Before departing, tell a family member or friend where you’re heading. Also, make sure that they know your arrival date and time. It's important to pack extra water, food, clothing, and first aid, as well as vehicle repair tools to fix troubles if roadside assistance isn’t available.
Downshift Before Downgrades
For better performance, downshift to a lower gear, limiting the stress on the brakes and engine of your vehicle. Also, it provides better speed control. Downshift also before you go downhill. Never switch gears on a steep grade because it is dangerous.
Use Brakes Cautiously
Braking down steep grades on a frequent basis can quickly overwork the brakes. Use the tap method to brake on declines by a quick light tapping on the brake pedal. It's one way to keep your brakes cool.
Always keep your eyes on the road, most especially to speed signs. Anticipate and brake in steep, hairpin turns before taking the plunge – braking before turning will shift the forces to the rear part of the car, offering greater vehicle control.
Now you know the repercussions of driving in mountainous routes in Taiwan, like Taroko Gorge Road. While the scenes are breathtaking, make sure to keep your attention on the road signs to avoid accidents.