Taiwan’s most untarnished breadth of backcountry, YUSHAN NATIONAL PARK (玉山國家公園; yùshān guójiā gōngyuán) is an archetypal mountain wilderness with a seemingly endless proliferation of 3000m peaks separated by yawning river valleys. The park is primarily known for the majestic Yushan (Jade Mountain) – at 3952m the tallest peak in northeast Asia. Climbing to the summit is an exhilarating experience, and not as challenging as it might sound.
Yushan National Park is by far Taiwan’s largest, covering over three percent of the country and accessible by road from three sides (the park is also, nominally at least, the homeland of the Bunun tribe, who remained semi-independent until they were brutally crushed by the Japanese in the 1920s). As such, its entry points and information centres are spread widely, making it seem like several different parks. If you’re planning to climb Yushan, Tatajia (from Alishan/Chiayi) or Dongpu (from Sun Moon Lake) will be your gateway into the park: from Tatajia, the climb is easier and much more heavily trafficked, while the Dongpu approach is longer and more physically demanding.Read More
Yushan National Park is revered by Taiwanese conservationists, who since its establishment in 1985 have worked tirelessly to protect its natural treasures. Sheltering six distinct vegetation zones, the park contains more than half of the island’s endemic plant species, as well as some of Asia’s rarest animal species. Chief among these is the elusive Formosan Black Bear, an omnivorous beast that mostly roams the foothills below 2000m. Far from being a threat, these bears are extremely rare and are seldom spotted by humans. Much more visible is the profusion of deer species, some of which can be seen by watchful trekkers, especially on the northern fringes of Yushan, near the beautiful high-altitude meadows of Badongguan. The most commonly seen of these is the diminutive Formosan Reeve’s Muntjac, recognizable by its tan coat and stubby, single-pronged antlers.