TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As a cold continental air mass hit Taiwan this week, the mercury dipped to 4.7 degrees Celsius yesterday morning and the maple leaves in the Alishan Forest Recreation Area have turned a dazzling red, with the period between Chrismas Day and New Year's Day now estimated to be the peak for the fall foliage on the mountain, reported UDN.
Forestry Bureau official Hsiao Ming-hsüeh (蕭明學) said that the latest wave of cold air has accelerated the turning of the leaves on Alishan and the mountain's landscape is now exploding with color. He said that up to 70 percent of the maples have turned red, and expects the fall foliage to peak between Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Hsiao said that in addition to the red leaves, Alishan's famous "sea of clouds" can best be witnessed from the observation deck in front of the main entrance to the Alishan Forest Recreation Area, Ciyun Temple, Alishan Station and the 89 km mark of the Provincial Highway No. 18 between the hours of 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. He said that there are an average of 4,000 visitors on weekdays and 6,000 on weekends to these scenic spots.
Hsiao said that the 360-degree view from the Ogasawara Viewing Platform (小笠原山觀景台) enables visitors to watch both sunrises from the east and sunsets in the west. He added that Tashan Trail, Jhaoping Park, and the stretch of the Alishan Highway between the 89 km and 91 km marks are also excellent spots to view the red maple leaves.
Longtime landscape photographer Huang Yuan-ming (黃源明) told UDN that the view of the red maple leaves and the sea of clouds is spectacular from the Ogasawara Viewing Platform. To the east, visitors can also observe the sunrise over the peak of Yushan, though Huang said that because the maples are growing so prolifically, if they are not pruned, they may block out the view of the sea of clouds next year.
On New Year's Eve, a "sunrise impression" concert will be held for tourists who wish to ring in the new year in the park, which will include music, watching the sunrise, viewing the sea of clouds and red leaves, and enjoying a breath of fresh air. However, as many mountain hotels and B&Bs are already fully booked, it's best to call in advance to confirm if any accommodations are still available.