Hualien East Rift Valley 花蓮花東縱谷
Known as an Emerald Paradise, the East Rift Valley of Hualien County is perfect for those looking to get away from the big city to enjoy the natural beauty of eastern Taiwan.
Blessed with clean water and fertile soil, the valley is home to many farm and ranch operations, resorts and hot spring villages, and outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and river rafting.
Formed by the collision of the Eurasian and Philippine tectonic plates in combination with the erosive power of the Xiuguluan, Hualien, and Beinan Rivers, the East Rift Valley is home to some truly fascinating and beautiful landforms, including waterfalls, cliffs, and hidden ponds.
The valley stretches from the east gate of Taroko Gorge (太魯閣) through Hualien City south to Taitung City.
Hualien County and the valley are great places to view fields of beautiful flowers. During the winter months from December to the end of February, the rice paddies are transformed into seas of rapeseed flowers, drawing butterflies to the area. In March, pomelo blossoms begin to open and elegant white flowers start to appear nearby Hegang Village. In August, golden day lilies bloom at Liushitan Mountain and Chihke Mountain.
Some interesting agricultural products that can be found in the valley include delicious Buddha-head fruit (釋迦), pomelo, Wuhe coffee, dairy products such as milk and cheesecake from Ruisui Pasture, tasty and nutritious rice from Chishang, Fulu tea, and a wide selection of fruits and flowers that can be found all over Hualien.
The natural environment of the valley is perfect for the agricultural and livestock industries, and many farms in the area open to visitors. The Chao Feng Ranch is a family-oriented resort with a zoo and hot springs, among many other amenities. The Ruisui Pasture is a dairy ranch where visitors can get fresh milk, cheese, and ice cream products, and the Chulu Ranch where visitors can participate in activities such as hay rolling. These are all tourism-oriented locations where visitors can partake in farm activities or just enjoy the area.
Hualien Sugar Factory was originally a Japanese-built sugarcane refining factory, and has now been transformed into a leisure space where visitors can view the original equipment and facilities while enjoying entertainment and snacks such as the iconic ice cream famous island-wide.
Not only is Hualien County and the valley an awesome place to wander around and explore while enjoying the beautiful surroundings, those looking for action will not be disappointed. Numerous beautiful hiking trails aside, cycling is a popular activity in Hualien, with bicycle paths designed for visitors to enjoy the scenery and relaxing atmosphere of Hualien. Triathlons and super marathons are held in the area, and hang gliding has recently become popular.
The Xiuguluan Creek is the best place for rafting, and most tours are arranged by the Xiuguluan Visitor Centre.
Destinations are listed below, heading south from Hualien City:
- Shoufeng, Fenglin, Wanrong Townships 壽豐、鳳林、萬榮
- Liyu Carp Lake (花蓮鯉魚潭)
- Shin Kong Chao Feng Resort Ranch (新光兆豐休閒農場)
- Lintienshan Forestry Cultural Area (花蓮林田山林業文化園區)
- Guangfu Township 光復
- Matai-an Wetlands (花蓮馬太鞍休閒農場, Mataian Ecological Exhibition)
- Hualien Tourism Sugar Plant (花蓮糖廠)
- Ruisui Township 瑞穗
- Ruisui Train Station (花蓮瑞穗車站, Ruei-suei)
- Ruisui Hot Springs (花蓮瑞穗溫泉) and Hongye Red Leaves Hot Springs (花蓮紅葉溫泉)
- Hualien Ruisui Rareseed Pasture (花蓮瑞穗牧場, Rueisuei Pasture)
- Rafting at Xiuguluan River Visitor Center (花蓮秀姑巒溪遊客中心)
- Yuli, Zhuoxi, Fuli 玉里、卓溪、富里
- Yushan National Park (玉山國家公園), Nan'an Visitor Center (南安遊客中心) and Nan'an Waterfall (南安瀑布)
- Antong Hot Springs (花蓮安通溫泉)
- Liushitan Mountain (六十石山)
Located between the Central Mountain Range and the Coastal Mountain Range, interaction between the three major rivers in the valley created the amazing cliffs and gorges that can be found nonstop while exploring the area. The rivers originally existed at heights of 2-3KM, and over time, erosion and earthquakes have created some truly unique landforms.
Some waterfalls in the valley area include Luoshan, Fonghuang, and the Nan’an Waterfall.
Since the valley is long and covers different elevations, there are several different types of forests including temperate evergreen forests, tropical rainforest, as well as shrubbery and trees that provide an important food source and homes for many different types of birds, mammals, and fish.
The East Rift Valley is home to many different species of animals. For birds, the area is home to hawk eagles, Taiwan blue magpies, maroon orioles, Taiwan bulbuls, and white-bellied yuhinas. Some interesting species of mammals include the endangered Taiwan macaque monkey, Formosan barking deer, Taiwan Serows, and gem-faced civets. In the wetlands, rivers, and lakes, there are many types of fish and amphibians including the Taiwan ku fish, Taiwan Venus Fish, as well as Latouche, Chinese tree, and rice paddy frogs.
The Mataian Wetland is an ecological park with many different types of plant and algae species. During different times of the year, different animals such as butterflies, frogs, fireflies, and various species of birds can be found in the park depending on their migratory patterns.
Hot springs in the traditional Japanese onsen style are very popular in Hualien. All throughout the East Rift Valley, visitors can find hot spring villages and facilities, each with its own distinct style and charm. The hot springs each have their own special natural makeup of minerals and antioxidants in the water.
The Shin Kong Chao Feng hot springs are suitable for family visits, as the facilities are part of a larger resort area including hotel, flower gardens, a zoo, dairy ranch, and other facilities. The resort has been reviewed as a "value for money with accommodation and zoo" by Singaporean guests.
The Antong Hot Springs are more of a premium experience due to the therapeutic effects, including treating skin ailments, gastrointestinal issues, female discomfort, and for treating external injuries.
Other springs include Fonghuang Village with more recreation facilities and the Wulu Hot Springs with the spring flowing out of the mountain walls and beautiful Taiwan cherry trees.