Taiwan island was created because of the massive collision of Eurasian continent plate and Philippines oceanic plate millions of years ago. Therefore, volcanic terrains are not hard to find in many places in Taiwan. And for most visitors, Taipei is a must visit city when planning the trip to Taiwan. If your time is really limited, but still want to see more than only city views, Yangmingshan is for sure a place that you might want to put into your itinerary since it is also known as the back garden of Taipei city.
Yangmingshan National Park as we know it today covers mountainous areas in the Taipei City districts of Shilin and Beitou, and in the New Taipei City districts of Tamsui, Sanzhi, Shimen, Jinshan and Wanli. The park’s eastern boundary lies east of Mt. Huangtsui and Mt. Wuchih, and it extends westward as far as the western foothills of Mt. Hunglu and Mt. Miantian. To the north it includes Mt. Zhuzi and Tudigong Ridge, while its southern boundary stretches from the southern foothills of Mt. Shamao eastward to Pingdeng Village and Shuangxi. It covers a total area of 11,338 hectares with elevations of between 200 and 1120 meters above sea level. Yangmingshan also used to be known as Tsaoshan (Grass Mountain), a term which embraced the whole area of Mt. Datun, Mt. Qxing and Mt. Shamao with its grassy slopes.
What to see in Nature?
There are currently some 1,359 species of plants in the park, growing in water plant and land plant propagation environments.
Yangmingshan is home to a large number of birds of around 123 different species, and its accessibility has made it one of northern Taiwan’s top bird- watching haunts.
It is also home to no less than 53 species of reptiles, of which the Sauter’s ground snake, red back pine root snake, common scaled water snake and flower snake are the most common.
Animals such as the Formosan rock-monkey (macaque), Formosan boar, Formosan hare, red-bellied squirrel, Formosan gem-faced civet, Formosan blind mole, spinous country-rat and Taiwan bandicoot rat are often to be seen in the park’s conservation zones.
What to see in Scenic Spots?
Yangmingshuwu – Formerly known as the Zhongxing Guesthouse, Yangmingshuwu was built during 1969 and 1970. It was originally used by former President Chiang Kai-shek for receiving foreign guests and as a summer home. Today, it is an important cultural and historical site in Yangmingshan National Park which features both natural and human history, making it an intellectually and emotionally resonant recreational site. Tourist information and guided tours are available.
Xiaoyoukeng – A post-volcanic geological landscape area and located on Mt. Qixing’s northwestern foot, it is approximately 805 meters above sea level and is famed for the fumaroles, sulfur crystals, hot springs and spectacular ‘landslide terrain’ formed by post-volcanic activity. The hiking trail next to the Xiaoyoukeng parking lot offers access to Mt. Qixing, from which it takes about an hour to reach the summit. At 1,120 meters above sea level, it is Taipei City’s highest peak. Taking the East Peak path when descending leads to Qixing Park, Menghuan Pond, and Lengshuikeng, offering a bird’s-eye view of Mt. Shamao and downtown Taipei.
Erziping – This area is in the volcanic dip between Mt. Datun’s main peak and Mt. Erzi, which boasts a lush forest and a variety of vegetation, made possible by its temperate weather, in between the sub-tropical and temperate zones. The trail here is even and flat surrounded by wide open spaces with three ponds in the middle.
Datun Nature Park – Located at the northwest foot of Mt. Datun and about 800 meters above sea level, here is known for its warm-temperate climate, broad-leaved forest, and volcanic cone. The Datun Visitor Center hosts an exhibition hall dedicated to early human activity in the Yangmingshan area, in particular the local indigo industry, so you can understand more about the history of this wonderful place.
Lengshuikeng – The Lengshuikeng region, cold water pit in Chinese meaning, is a low-lying depression which was created when the lava from Mt. Qixing and Mt. Qigu formed a barrage. Water then accumulated, turning the area into a lake, which eventually leaked out and dried up to expose the lake bottom and form today’s landscape.
Qingtiangang – This area is a lava terrace formed when the lava from Mt. Zhugao flowed north after its eruption, and because of its flat terrain, a ranch was established and the area was used as a pasture for grazing cattle during the Japanese ruling period. The big grassland is the place most people would visit and taking panorama photos.
Longfenggu – This valley is about 1 km long and 80-200 meters wide and has many volcanic fumaroles and artificial geothermal hot springs, which are the source of the Beitou Hot Springs. White smoke fills the area with plumes of slowly rising from the valley to form a magnificent view.