Yangmingshan National Park 陽明山, Yang Ming Shan Mountain
Yangmingshan National Park is located in northern Taipei City, and easily accessible from downtown. Spanning 114SQ. KM the area is home to numerous parks, hiking trails, interesting plants and wildlife, and the internationally famous hot springs.
Designated as Category II by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a national park for protection of nature and wildlife and ranging in elevation from 200 metres to 1,200 metres, there are many different subtropical and warm temperate climate zones that can be found within the park.
The lasting Japanese influence on the area can be found in the area’s countless hot springs around Beitou and Xingyi Road, as well as many private hot springs only available by reservation. The Japanese also planted black pines, acacia trees, and the Formosan sweet gum to beautify the mountain. To this day, the area is very popular with Japanese tourists.
As the area is rich in sulphur, mining operations previously operated in the area. All mining operations have been shut down due to environmental effects, and visitors can check out the decommissioned mines such as the one at Liuhuanggu (硫磺谷).
With its growth as a centre for sulphur mining in northern Taiwan, many Han Chinese such as the Hoklo from Fujian and the Hakka began moving to the area to cultivate tea plantations and other agricultural products, and today, wide-scale agriculture has been replaced by more boutique-style agriculture with a tourism focus, such as the Calla lilies at Zhuzihu (竹子湖).
Each season brings a different type of beauty to the area. February and March are the flowering season, and rhododendrons and cherry blossoms cover the mountain slopes to welcome the spring. Summer brings winds from the southwest with occasional showers and thunder in the afternoon, creating amazing weather effects in the mountains. By October, the mountains are covered with silver grass and the golden red colour of maple leaves. Rainbows can be seen after misty autumn rains. Winter time has unique scenery as well since monsoons bring a cold drizzle that create seas of clouds that look like a fantasy world, with the possibility of snow falling on cold days.
Different tour options are available to Yangmingshan, including a day trip with hot springs.
From MRT 2 Jiantan station (劍潭), leave Exit 1 (Shilin Night Market), and walk to the left-side bus station, busses heading north. Take either city bus R5 or small bus (PREFERRED) S15 or S17 to Yangmingshan station (陽明山). Fare is NT$15, payable by cash or Easycard. This station serves as a base to explore the mountain, and the area has a few shops like 7/11 and a Starbucks. Bus 260 also leaves from Taipei Main Station, although Jiantan is recommended. Bus S15 from Jiantan is best, as it travels past the main transfer station to other destinations such as Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑), Lengshuikeng (冷水坑), and Qingtiangang Grassland Trails (擎天崗).
Originally zoned by the Japanese as “Datun National Park”, the area included Mt. Fuxing, Mt. Datun, and Mt. Guanyin, however the events of World War II disrupted plans to officially open the park.
In 1963, the park was to be officially established, including Yangming Park and the surrounding mountain areas of Mt Qixing, Mt. Datsun, Jinshan, Yeliu, Fuguijiao, and other areas along the northern coast. The National Park Law was not enacted at the time, so the park was delayed.
By 1985, the park was officially opened, 4 years after its planning phase, and 1 year later the park police corp was created to manage the grounds.
The national park is located on the northern edge of the Taipei Basin occupying 11,455 hectares, and is part of Shilin and Beitou Districts of Taipei City, and Tamsui, Sanzhi, Shimen, Jinshan, and Wanli Districts of New Taipei City.
Originally named Caoshan (草山, Grass Mountain) by the Qing, in 1949 after the ROC government and KMT moved to Taiwan, locals established the “Grass Mountain Management Bureau”, and one year later, changed the name of the mountain to match the name of a famous Ming Dynasty philosopher, Wang Yangming (王陽明).
Sulphur was a main ingredient to produce gunpowder, and records show that the Ming Dynasty traded a stone called agate and bracelets with the local aborigines. During the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty, a Chinese traveller named Yu Yonghe went to the area to grow the sulphur mining industries around the Xingyi Road area. Unauthorised mining was prohibited as it was feared local commoners would use the sulphur to privately manufacture gunpowder, with the Qing routinely setting fire to the area to scare off miners. After Liu Mingchuan (劉銘傳) became governor of Taiwan, the area was nationalised and re-opened as a government monopoly operation.
The park is a volcanic area covering andesite rock. Some interesting landforms include both cone and strata volcanoes, volcanic craters, crater lakes, waterfalls, springs, and fumaroles. Fumaroles are a sulphur gas exhaust hole for the geothermal-heated hot spring waters. These holes and their steam can be seen (and smelled) from various places around Yangmingshan including Xiaoyoukeng.
Yangmingshan is one of Taiwan’s eight national parks, the others being Taroko Gorge National Park (太魯閣) in Hualien, Kenting National Park (墾丁) at the southern tip of Taiwan, Kinmen (金門, Jinmen) National Park nearby Fujian Province of mainland China, Kushan National Park, Shei-Pa National Park, Tailing National Park, and Marine National Park.
Yangmingshan is best explored by motorcycle or by car service. Taipei City taxis quote between NT$3500-4000 for "baoche" (包車) service, which is 8 hours of driving service throughout the day.
Yangmingshan may also be writted as "yang ming shan" or 阳明山 in simplified Chinese.
Private car drivers should note the weekend/holiday restrictions on Yangde Boulevard (陽德大道).