The Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan is another mountain route made by carving out rocks, similar to the Guoliang Tunnel road. Despite its name, the Central Cross-Island Highway is a narrow and winding mountain road, and only a bus can barely pass by at a time. But the highway itself is truly an engineering masterpiece, as it cuts through the mountains and joins the East and West Coast. It's full of blind curves, sharp turns, and narrow paths leading through cliffs and mountains.
The drive is definitely worth it. The road passes through the Taroko national park alongside the Taroko Gorge and is an appeal to the tourist, as well as a mode of transportation of marble found abundantly in the Gorge. The roads through the gorge are extremely narrow with numerous bends. In addition, there are pedestrians, scooters, cars and massive tour buses all vying for the tight space. This narrow mountain road offers spectacular views for brave drivers.
This road tests the skill, and courage, of any driver. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides. Only the suicidal, the insane, or the paid-to-do-this should ever drive down. Taroko Gorge Route is one of the main highways in Taiwan, 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.
Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. The highway route 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 is an extremely narrow and treacherous road made all the more dangerous by the many buses that use the road.
The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. Taroko Gorge is an impressive 19-km-long canyon, situated near Taiwan's east coast. The area of the gorge is also identified as Taroko Gorge National Park. The road is certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. 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.
Is Taroko Gorge Road dangerous?
The road is dangerous because: 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. The road is widely recognised as one of the most dangerous roads in the world. 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. 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. 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. This road is closed when there are earthquakes and typhoons because it is nearly impossible to drive along the road during these conditions.
Taroko Gorge Road opened to traffic in 1960
The experience of using this road is very impressive. 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. Until the '50s only a trail ran through the gorge. Chiang Kai-shek decided to build a road to cross Taiwan from west to east through the Central Range. The Nationalist Army soldiers built the road, called Central Cross-Island Highway in just 4 years, from 1956 to 1960. The construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway 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. 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 analysed in relation to the use of the road for both transport and tourism. So, use caution and enjoy the magnificent scenery.
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 Raod. While the scenes are breathtaking, make sure to keep your attention on the road signs to avoid accidents.