Applying for a Hiking Permit in Taroko National Park
(Zhuilu Old Trail and Other High Mountain Treks)
Please note that the application process for mountain permits in Taiwan changes frequently. If you find that our information below is inaccurate, or you have advice to make it easier, please let us know so we can update this page. Email: http://taiwan-adventures.com/contact-us-2/
Applying for permits to any of Taiwan’s high mountain hikes can be confusing. While we would love to take you on a customized, private hike to Taroko National Park, we understand that not everyone can afford to do that, or just might want to do it on their own.
Taroko Gorge and the associated trails comprise Taroko National Park, which is among the most visited landmarks for both local and foreign tourists. As well as the famous Zhuilu Old Road, there are many multiday high mountain hikes within the Park (notably the Nanhu and Qilai routes) that are well worth the effort.
Below is a detailed explanation about how to apply for your own self guided hike to any of Taroko National Park’s trails and high mountain hikes.
When and How to Apply
You can start your application process 30 days before the start of your hike. Depending on your prospective route, you can apply in as little as 1 day before you want to hike, but if you want to hike on a weekend or in the summer, you’ll need to apply 30 days in advance, as soon as the system opens at 7:00am. You can calculate the earliest date to submit your application using the widget on the lower right section of the Permits website: https://npm.cpami.gov.tw/en/index.aspx
Please note that most trails have a pre-established daily quota on the number of hikers that are permitted to access the specified trail. The quota is often higher on “holidays” (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays) than on “non-holidays” (Monday – Thursday, excluding public holidays).
You can check the quota and availability of all trails using the following link: https://npm.cpami.gov.tw/en/bed_5.aspx
The application window varies for the following routes:
- 7 – 30 days: Qilai (Qilai Main Peak and Qilai North Peak, Mt. Qilai Range, Qilai East Ridge, Qilai South Peak), Nanhu (Mt. Nanhu, Mt. Nanhu – Mt. Zhongyangjian/North Section 1 of Central Mt. Range), North Section 1.~2. North of Central Mt. Range, North Section 2 of Central Mt. Range/Guimenguan Cliff, Mt. Shuan – Mt. Lingming, Mt. Shuan Single Day Ascent, Mt. Bilu – Mt. Yangtou, Mt. Qingshui, and non-traditional (“Other”) routes
- 3 – 30 days: Mt. Yangtou Single Day Ascent, Mt. Bilu Single Day Ascent routes.
- 1 – 30 days: Zhuilu Old Road.
* A note on nomenclature: North Section 1 refers to the Nanhu and Zhongyangjian mountain range; and North Section 2 refers to the trail connecting the Shuan, Lingming, and Gansu mountain ranges.
For High Mountain Routes:
In addition to the established route quotas, there are also limits on the amount of cabin space. The quota for the number of persons on each route does not equal the number of bed spaces available for each cabin. In addition, because you are allowed to apply up to 30 days in advance of your first day on the trail, anticipating cabin space is especially difficult due to the possibility of cabin space being booked for more than 30 days in advance (with the ability to only see cabin space availability up to 30 days in advance). Therefore, if you do not plan on pitching your own tent, it is best to submit the permit application as close to the 30-day 7:00am opening as possible.
Every permit is reviewed by trained staff at the Park Headquarters, who will call you if there are any issues with your application. Note that once you submit your application, you are not able to change the names and passport numbers of any team member, as well as the date and route of your proposed itinerary. The way that you can check if your itinerary is feasible (and indeed, the way that Taroko staff check as well) is by calculating the daily hiking time from referencing the route network on the maps provided by Taroko National Park. If the total hiking time for any day seems to be unfeasible, then you will most likely receive a call from one of the Taroko National Park staff to request mountaineering experience and to ask additional questions about your itinerary and experience.
If the staff handling your permit deem your itinerary to not be feasible and/or not in line with your mountaineering experience, they will cancel your application and ask that you resubmit a new application with a revised itinerary. This will result in the loss of your place in the queue for both the trail quota and cabin space. Therefore, it is important that you propose an itinerary that can actually be followed through, and is doable.
You can view the route network (unfortunately, all in Chinese), as well as detailed hiking maps of all of Taroko National Park (fortunately, in both English and Chinese), which are the last 6 maps in the following link:
If you plan on hiking alone, or if there are persons under 18 in your team, you will be required to submit additional documentation. These documents are provided when you fill in the application. For the former, you will also be asked to submit documentation or evidence of previous and equivalent mountaineering experience. Additionally, your emergency contact does not have to be a Taiwanese citizen (a common misconception).
Finally, you do not need a Park Entry Permit to hike the Mt. Hehuan peaks (although you will need a Police Mountain Permit to access Hehuan Main and West peaks; see below for more information).
For Zhuilu Old Road:
Zhuilu Old Road often is fully booked within minutes of the registration opening on weekends. Therefore, if you plan on hiking Zhuilu Old Road on the weekend or on public holidays, it is best to submit the permit application as close to the 30-day 7:00am opening as possible.
There is often much more flexibility with registration if you plan on hiking Zhuilu on weekdays. In addition, due to the lower quotas (96 vs 156 persons) the path is much less crowded, which makes a huge difference given that a large section of the trail is along a ~1 meter-wide path on the edge of an imposing steep cliff. Applying for a permit to hike Zhuilu on a weekday can often be successfully done the week of, or the week before, the intended day of hiking (though this is not always guaranteed).
If you submit your application after the quota has been reached, you will be put on a waitlist. As people ahead of you in the queue cancel, you will move up the waitlist. If you are able to be moved off the waitlist and into the trail quota, you will be notified by email, which you then need to respond within 2 days. If you do not respond within this time, the opportunity will then be transferred to the next application down the waiting list.
The daily list of persons authorized to hike Zhuilu Old Road is finalized at 3:00pm the previous working day.
* Note that you do not need a Park Entry Permit nor a Mountain Police Permit to hike the Lushui-Wenshan route or the Dali-Datong route.
Winter Rules (In the High Mountains):
When snow season is announced after the first snowfall (usually mid-December to late March), the leader of your group must have a special Taiwanese issued Snow Training Certificate to hike any of the high mountain routes. Unlike Jade Mountain, you do not need to submit photographic proof of each team member in your group of hiking mountains over 3,000m in snowy conditions. If you really want to go in the winter, it’s probably best to contact us and let us take you.
Single Day Hikes (In the High Mountains):
It’s possible to hike many of the trails within Taroko National Park in a single day. Asides from the routes already marked as single-day hikes (Mt. Bilu, Mt. Yangtou, Mt. Shuan, Zhuilu Old Road), it is also possible to climb (and descend from) some peaks within the Nanhu and Qilai Mountain range in a single day. As with multi-day hikes, the itinerary is subject to approval from trained staff at Taroko National Park Headquarters, so ensure that the route you have proposed is feasible.
Police Permits (AKA Mountain Permits):
You’ll also need to apply for police permits for the hike. It is possible to apply at the police station nearest to the respective trailhead; however they are a fair distance away from the trailhead and it is best to have the Police Permit approved online in advance.
If your Park Entry Permit application has been successful, you can automatically transfer your details from the Park Permit application to the Police Mountain Permit application,. To do this, please go on our website to: Online Application > Check Status/Print Permit/Apply for Mountain Permit > [Enter in your details] > Apply Mountain (Police) Permit. This option will be on the bottom of the main column and will only be visible after your application is approved. The processing time for the application should be a few working days.
You can also opt to complete it separately; if you can handle the Mandarin, you can do it online here: https://nv2.npa.gov.tw/NM103-604Client/
Because Taroko National Park spans three counties (Hualien, Nantou, Taichung), different police stations are responsible for different trails. This means that, if you want to apply for a Mountain Police Permit in person, only certain stations will be able to help you apply for them on the spot:
- Mt. Nanhu area: Heping Precinct (District) Station Police Bureau, Taichung County or Sanxing Precinct (District) Station Police Bureau, Yilan County
- Mt. Qilai and Mt. Hehuan areas: Taroko National Park Police Corps (Taroko National Park Headquarters), Ren’ai Precinct (District) Station Police Bureau, Nantou County, Xincheng Precinct (District) Station, Hualien County
- Mt.Qingshui area: Taroko National Park Police Corps (Taroko National Park Headquarters), Xincheng Precinct (District) Station, Hualien County
You do NOT need a Mountain Police Permit to hike Zhuilu Old Road. On the other hand, you will need to apply for a Mountain Police Permit for all peaks (with the exception of East Peak) comprising Mt. Hehuan, but NOT a Park Entry Permit.
Day of the Hike:
For High Mountain Hikes:
Unlike Shei-Pa and Yushan National Park, there is no ranger station upon entry due to the remote locations of the trailheads. However, you will still need to bring two copies of your permit and your passports, as you may come across volunteer staff associated with Taroko National Park, who may ask to see these documents. In addition, staff at the various lodges (which may or may not be manned) may also ask to see these documents.
For Zhuilu Old Road:
You will need to check in at the ranger station at the trailhead in the morning (at the same location as the entrance of Swallow Grotto / Yanzikou). Bring two copies of the permit and your passports (they will check them). A copy of the ID page of your passport can also be accepted. You can also pay the entrance fee here, which is $200NTD per person ($100NTD if possessing a valid student ID, non-Taiwanese universities accepted as well). Note that entry to the trail is limited to between 7 – 10am, with the latest exit from the trail before 4pm, due to the weather often turning sour in the afternoon. The trail is not difficult, but the first 2km of the trail is steep, and the whole trail takes roughly 4-5 hours including a half-hour lunch break at the old outpost past the Zhuilu Cliff. The Park recommends (but is not required) to wear a safety helmet while on the trail in case of rockfall, if you wish to have one on hand, you can borrow a helmet at no cost at Xipan Dam, about a 10-15 minute walk down gorge.
While it’s much easier to visit the area with your own transportation, there are public buses.
To Zhuilu Old Road (trailhead at Yanzikou / Swallow Grotto):
- From Hualien TRA Station: 06:30 (Bus# 1126), 07:00 (Bus# 1133A), 08:30 (Bus# 1133A), 08:40 (Bus# 1141).
- From Xincheng Taroko TRA Station: 07:10 (Bus# 302), 07:33 (Bus# 1133A), 08:00 (Bus# 302), 09:03 (Bus# 1133A).
To Siyuan Yakou (Bus stop Siyuan Caiyuan; the trailhead for Mt. Nanhu routes):
- From Luodong Transfer Station at 07:00 (Return from Lishan at 13:00) – Bus# 1764
- From Yilan Transfer Station at 07:29 and 12:40 (Return from Lishan at 08:30 and 13:29) – Bus# 1751
To Wuling (Songsyue Lodge; the trailhead for Mt. Qilai and Mt. Hehuan routes):
- From Fengshan (Taichung) at 09:10 (Return from Lishan at 08:00) – Bus# 6506
- From Hualien TRA Station at 08:40 (Return from Lishan at 14:50), note that the bus stop (Dayuling) is 9.0km from the trailhead. You may be able to time Bus# 6506 to travel this last section. – Bus# 1141
To the trailhead for Mt. Yangtou and Mt. Bilu:
- From Hualien TRA Station at 08:40 to Cien (the trailhead for Mt. Yangtou) and to Dayuling (the trailhead for Mt. Bilu), with Return from Lishan at 14:50 – Bus# 1141
* A note that many petrol stations leading to the trails are not open 24 hours (for example, the station at the Taroko National Park Headquarters is only open from 9am to 7pm).
Where to Stay:
Wuling Farm – The trailhead to the Nanhu mountain range is not far from Wuling, which also serves as the last service station before the Snow Mountain trail.
Songsyue Lodge – This is a government-run B&B at the entrance of the Mt. Hehuan and Mt. Qilai routes. The website is unfortunately only in Chinese: https://tsfs.forest.gov.tw/cht/index.php?code=list&ids=35
Tianxiang Recreation Area – Tianxiang is the largest recreational area along the eastern section of the Cross-Island Highway (National Highway 8), about 19 km (30 minutes drive) upgorge from the Taroko National Park Visitor Centre. There are three accommodation options (a budget hostel run by the Presbytarian Church, a moderate B&B, and a swanky 5-star hotel), as well as a 7-11.
Hualien City and Xincheng Township – Respectively 45 minutes and 10 minutes drive from the Taroko National Park Visitor Centre, there are many accommodation options ranging from hostels to 5-star hotels. Along the road leading up to Taroko National Park, there are many “minshus” (Taiwanese-style B&Bs) that are also a cheaper option.
Any other questions?
There are people working at Taroko National Park Headquarters who have extensive experience hiking the majority of the trails within the National Park, and are more than happy to help you plan your itinerary, or answer any other questions you may have about the Park. If you are unable to speak Chinese, they have several persons who are able to advise you in English.