Updated: Jun 28
Explore the Golden Grotto, Taiwan's premiere river tracing / canyoning destination
River trace through a spectacular and remote slot canyon in Taiwan on an unbelievable, once in a lifetime adventure!
INDEX (because yeah, this is a long article...)
The Entrance Area / The River Route / The Aqueduct Route / The Tower / The Valley / The Curve / The Curve Campsite / The Canyon / The Golden Grotto / The Entrance / The Outer Chamber / The Middle Chamber / The Inner Chamber / The Nitty Gritty (GPX, info, etc)
Welcome to The Map Room's series about the Sanzhan River in Hualian!
This is the first in an occasional series of, hopefully, four articles about river tracing in the amazing Sanzhan River in Hualian, Taiwan.
Traces in this series:
The Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) - intermediate level trace
The Platinum Grotto (白金峽谷) - advanced trace (to be released at a later date)
The Black Gold Grotto (黑金峽谷) - advanced, technical trace, further upstream from the Platinum Grotto (to be released at a much later date)
I will periodically revisit this article and update it as new information becomes available. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have new information! (last updated June 20, 2021)
All recommendations, times, and other information are for average conditions with average water levels. Please also see important safety notes for river tracing (below).
GPX, route maps, and practical information are at the end of this article.
The Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷)! If you live in Taiwan and love the outdoors, chances are you've heard of it, but you may never have been there. Located a few hours' trace up Hualian's Sanzhan River (台灣花蓮三棧溪), it's arguably the most famous of all river tracing destinations in Taiwan - and THAT is saying something! Timeless, yet ever changing, it's a place of wonder, power, and unparalleled majesty.
You may have also heard that, far beyond the Grotto, something called The Platinum Grotto (白金峽谷) awaits, and perhaps you've even heard whispered rumors of something even more remote, something called the Black Gold Grotto (黑金峽谷)? In the next post I will take you to the First Ferocious Falls (殘暴一號瀑布) the edge of the Platinum Grotto itself. It's not an easy journey, and what lies beyond is truly difficult to reach. It's not for the faint of heart, the inexperienced, or ill prepared, and I hope to do more detailed posts on them in the future. But the Golden Grotto? Well, just read on!
On the way between the Golden Grotto and the Platinum Grotto
Jumping off of the Ferocious Falls (殘暴一號瀑布), at the Entrance to the Platinum Grotto Itself
After five years, and at least 13 trips to the Golden Grotto, and several expeditions far beyond, it's finally time for me to share what I've experienced in this amazing, world-class adventure travel destination. So please, join me on an adventure like no other!
I've tried to include only the best of my photos from all the times I've been to the Golden Grotto, but as you can imagine it's been quite a challenge! That's why I've put together a gallery with additional pictures for you to check out. Please take a look!
The Entrance Area
The entrance to the Golden Grotto at Sanzhan River in Hualian, Taiwan
Starting my most recent hiking and river tracing journey to Hualian's Golden Grotto with my friend Johan.
An Aboriginal Curse!
This sign is a curse saying that, if you leave your garbage in the river area, the ancestors of the local aboriginal tribe will curse you. No, I'm not even making that up! Curses are seen as serious stuff by most Taiwanese.
The Entrance to the Golden Grotto at Sanzhan River in Hualian, Taiwan
New construction along the old trail to the aqueduct tower (see below). There are two ways to start your journey to the Golden Grotto, and here is where you make your choice! Going up (left) will take you along the aqueduct trail, which you can follow all the way to The Tower (below). This saves you time, but misses some nice tracing.
Going right takes you along this path down to the river, where you immediately cross for the first of many times. It takes a bit longer, but you get some beautiful river scenery in exchange! I've included pictures of both routes below, so have fun and take whichever one you like!
New Construction Along the Old Trail to the Aqueduct Tower
The River Route
Crossing the Sanzhan River at the Cliff Diving Tree
If you're like me, you love a good cliff dive! There's a REALLY great one, very high and very unique, just beyond this point. It's one of the first things you reach if you take the river route.
Let the Real Adventure Begin!
River Tracing Across the Sanzhan River
Cliff Diving Tree
This is the best jumping area along the whole route to Hualian's Golden Grotto, bar none! First, you climb up the cliffside, then follow the diagonal crack from the bottom left of the photo, pass under the trees, and climb up the high cliffside using the roo