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Hehuanshan National Recreation Area is located in central Taiwan at the edge of Hualien and Nantou county situated on the Western boundary of Taroko National Park.

The best months for a sunrise tour to the top of Mount Hehuanshan or Hehuan are during the driest time of the year from December until March. The sunlight has a little variation from summer to winter rising in June shortly after 5 and in January around 6.40.

Consider Three Things If You Like to Watch a Sunrise Above the Clouds

1. Go weekdays
2. Don’t book your room far in advance. 
3. Travel to Taiwan during the driest months to increase the chance.

Sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan in Taiwan

Do you like to know more? Read the following tips to be successful in watching the sunrise for a jaw-dropping moment in your life.

Watching the sunrise on Mount Hehuanshan is very popular in Taiwan. If possible go on weekdays, weekends are super busy and fully booked. Don’t book the room far in advance. Check the weather forecast when traveling through Taiwan  Taiwan Weather

Pick a date when the forecast for the mountain range is good or even excellent. The receptionist told me often people are disappointed due to the bad weather. The whole week before our stay in November it was always foggy and rainy. 

Weather

Taiwan's climate is subtropical with wet and humid summers. Snow is common during winter mostly in January and February, and it gets very busy here. Most precipitation from April to July. There is less rain from August to November and the driest months are December until March, but pretty cold. Anyhow, even in the driest season, you can expect rain. During summer it's refreshing cool on 3000 m elevation. 

Highlights/Information

  • Visitor center opening hours: 8.30 until 4.30 pm but closed each month on the first and third Monday.
  • The whole area is famous for its beautiful Rhododendrons in April and May.
     

Check out complete Taiwan Guide from 2019 – Must know destinations and tips

Hiking
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Trail Description

The Xitou Bamboo Forest is one of the most popular parks in Taiwan. To experience the beautiful landscape of the park with fewer people you have to hike. Another important fact is the weather and the clouds as well which roll in around midday. Continue reading to get all the information for this stunning circular hike to the top of Xitou. 

Clouds roll in around midday in the Xitou Bamboo Forest, Taiwan

Avoiding Crowds

This is something which is almost impossible in Xitou. On weekdays it is a very popular place for the retired Taiwanese people, and they come here by bus for hiking. The first buses arrive around 8 am and from 9 onwards the park fills up soon. Around 3 pm the first buses leave the area, and from 4 onwards the park and the skywalk are less busy. We arrived midweek, and there were roughly several hundred busses. We got told by a hotel manager that it's always crowded like that. On weekends it's very popular for families especially in summer they come here to escape the heat.

Lots of buses come to the Xitou Bamboo Forest each day

In our opinion, the best option to enjoy this incredible beautiful nature is this loop trail which ends on the highest level of Xitou Nature Education Area. It took us 4 hours due to the long descent through the whole Xitou Park. The trail is 12 to 14 km long depending on the paths you chose on the way back through the park. The trail is almost not marked. Nevertheless, you don't get lost. Just follow other hikers or ask them how to continue.

Start the hike early morning; often clouds roll in around midday and spoil the incredible view of the mountains and the sea of clouds. 

Opening Hours Xitou

Xitou is open from 7 am to 5 pm.

Weather

Due to the higher elevation, the air is cooler, and it often gets foggy. The wettest months are during spring and summer from April/May until August. 

Check out complete Taiwan Guide from 2019 – Must know destinations and tips

Forest
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Point Lobos is a jewel among the State Parks for the whole family with four accessible wheelchair trails.

The park opens throughout the year at 8 a.m. but closes before sunset to protect the wildlife and to avoid disturbance  (like deer, foxes, bobcats, and owls). Camping is not permitted. Clearer skies, warmest average temps and the best moths without fog are September and October followed by April and May during the harbor seal pupping season.

Crowds in Summer

The beautiful coastline at Point Lobos Reserve

This magnificent and popular State Reserve is located close to Carmel on HW 1. Point Lobos is a year-round destination and super busy during summer and especially at weekends. Limited parking within the reserve; 150 cars only. At weekends and especially Sundays during summer it’s advisable to arrive before 9 a.m. or later in the afternoon. Otherwise, you have to line up or park your car outside on the shoulder and walk in.

If possible visit the reserve mid-week. However, Point Lobos is also much loved by school classes due to the many opportunities to experience and learn about nature and wildlife. The foundation supports schools with transportation and offers adventure programmes for 8 to 12 years old youth in summer which fills up soon.

Weather

Point Lobos is often foggy during the summer

It’s a moderate cool coastal climate. The average temperature ranges from about 55 to 65°F / 13-18 °C year-round.  Spring is sunny and cool before the foggy summer season starts with fog until the afternoon. Fog banks emerge from the cold water (around 50 °F / 10°C)  and the warm coastal air to condense into fog.  Fall (September to November) is the sunniest time of the year although evenings are more chilly. During the winter mist and showers occur between November to March.

Seasonal Highlights

  • Harbor Seal Pupping Season 
    Seal pup

    From March until June you may spot harbor seals giving birth to a puppy at China Cove. It’s amazing that the new-borns start to swim just 20 minutes later. The best months to witness this spectacle are April and May.
     
  • Southern Sea Otters 
    Sea Otters at Point Lobos

    They may be spotted offshore in the kelp beds during calm days. On windy days they are more often found in protected coves. They are living in waters with a temp between 35°F and 60°F / 1,5°C up to 15,5°C. This is important for their constant body temp of almost 100 °F / 37°C. They mate and give birth in the sea throughout the year with a peak of pupping from January to March, fewer from August to October.
     
  • Whales 
    Whales at Point Lobos
     
  • They can be spotted throughout the year. Perfect spots to observe whales are South Point and Sea Lion Point.
    Grey whales are most commonly seen from late December to January and again from March until early May.
    Humpbacks are frequently seen from March until December.
  • Minke whales are sometimes spotted from January until April. They migrate in larger numbers but due to their smaller seize often missed.
  • Blue whales are sometimes spotted in summer.
  • Orcas; three different species of orcas can be found. The transient orcas feed on mammals, therefore, frequently seen when gray whales migrate with their calves their preferred prey. They can also be spotted at other times of the year hunting seals, porpoise, and dolphins. The resident orcas feed on fish especially salmon and always stay in the same area. Nowadays resident orcas from Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca can be found around Monterey. The offshore orcas are mostly seen during winter feeding on squid, fish and even sharks.
     
  • Sea Lions 
    Sea Lions at Point Lobos

    The sea lion population is much smaller in late spring and summer due to migration to the south for mating.
     
  • Birding 
    Birding at Point Lobos

    Spring and summer is the nesting season. The bird island trail is great to spot lots of birds in the morning or late afternoon. Two cormorant species can be found year-round; nesting on rocks offshore from March to August. We spotted several birds like the scrub jay and dark-eyed junco.
     
  • Wildflowers
    Wildflowers along the coastal path

    The wildflower season in spring; California Poppies, Douglas Iris, lilac Ceanothus and many more
Diving

Diving at Point Lobos

A permit is required, and reservations can be made up two months in advance. 15 diving teams always two divers are allowed to dive at Whalers Cove and Bluefish Cove each day. Some caves are accessible in calm seas. Diving map of Point Lobos State Reserve

Where to Stay (bookmark the links)

Unfortunately, there isn't any campground or accommodation offered inside the reserve. The best-located hotel is the Hyatt Carmel Highlands with spectacular views. Nearby is the popular town of Carmel with a vast variety of hotels and lodges. An alternative and half an hour drive is Salinas. We'd chosen the Super 8 Salinas where breakfast is included.

Ocean Life
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Many trails lead to Alamere; these three hikes are the most common ones to get to the falls:

Several trails are leading to the Alamere Falls. We'd chosen the shortest one. Continue reading to get all necessary information for an awesome hike and waterfall experience. During summer from July to September, the Park is often covered in fog while the inland has sunshine and warm temps.

Summer Fog at Point Reyes

Avoiding Crowds

It is quite a popular park due to the close location to San Francisco. The Alamare Falls are much loved, and the Palomarin car park already fills up early morning at weekends. If possible hike to the falls mid-week. If you can’t get a parking space, you have to queue or leave. Shoulder parking is not permitted.

Best Time to Start the Hike

Mid-week start your hike to the Alamare Falls around two to three hours before low tide depending on the trail you choose. At weekends and in the summer months start early to get a parking lot. Tide times for the hike to the Alamere Falls or check at the Bear Valley Information Center

Tip for Photographers

Best light for a good shot of the falls is after midday.

Alamere Falls after Midday

If you do the hike on a hot summer day bring your bath cloth for swimming in the Pelican Lake, the last on the right on your way back.

Point Reyes Pelican Lake for swimming

Points of Interest Inside the Park

If hiking to the falls try to combine your visit with one of the other attractions depending on the day and month of your visit;

  • Point Reyes Lighthouse built in 1870
    300 steps leading down to the picturesque lighthouse with a spectacular view if it is not foggy. Unfortunately, only open from Friday to Monday.
     
  • Chimney Rock
    The overlook is close to the lighthouse to spot elephant seals while breeding during December to March. Many visitors want to observe the spectacle which causes much traffic and shuttle buses are offered.
     
  • Tule Elk Reserve on Tomales Point 
    These specific elks were reintroduced in 1978. It’s a more than 9 miles / 15 km hike on the peninsula to Tomales Bluff and back. A shorter option is the 2 miles / 3.2 km hike to Windy Gap and back where you may spot elks at a spring. The Tule Elk Rut Season from around August to late October/beginning of November is a spectacular time.
  • Migrating gray whales can be spotted around the lighthouse and Chimney Rock between January to April. Humpback whales  migrate past Point Reyes from November to March. 
Weather / Climate

Point Reyes has a coastal climate with dry summer and cool winter. Only very view rain occurs from mid-April to October. Most of the precipitation happens from December to March. It’s often windy at Point Reyes, and very strong winds are common in November and December. Fog occurs in summer mostly from July to September. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.

Where to Stay (bookmark the links)

We recommend spending minimum two days in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The park has so much to offer; outstanding nature, wildlife, several hiking trails, and coastline. We'd been here already twice and still haven't seen all of its beauty. Situated inside the park is the HI Point Reyes Hostel. Next to the park in Olema is the quiet and lovely The Lodge of Point Reyes with an excellent restaurant. Probably the best accommodation in this area. 

Waterfall
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The beach is absolutely stunning, full of driftwood and a huge playground for kids. Most of the visitors are close to the entrance.

The State Park is popular for the 2 miles long beach but not crowded due to a one-mile walk to get there. The gate is open from sunrise until half an hour after sunset.

The entire 2 miles beach is only accessible at low tide. Watch the tide and don’t get trapped between rocky outcrops.

The summer is the foggiest season. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May.

Weather:
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inch / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.

Whales:
The gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja California and can be spotted during mid- December and February. And again on their northward migration with their new born calves from February to May.

Beach
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The park is called after the first European settlers Michael and Barbara Pfeiffer who built a house in 1869.

If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat during summer. We even spotted a gray fox close to the Lodge although they are nocturnal. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons can be seen during the night. The Pfeiffer Falls are very popular either hike to them in the morning or late afternoon. They were not accessible in 2017 closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain and remain closed. Opening was planned by February 2019 but it looks like they won't be open before mid-June 2019. Check closure

McWay Falls View from Highway One
Nearby along the Highwy One are the famous McWay Falls which can be already seen from the road

Weather

It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the  evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.

Camping 

Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground

If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before for the summer holidays even 6 months. Within the park are several campgrounds offering 189 tent and RV sites in total for $ 35-50 each night which includes the State Park fee of 10 $ (2019). From mid-June until September are two group campsites available which can accommodate up to 35 people. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month. The campground is extremely popular even in the winter due to the mild climate. Click here for campground reservation  

Best Accommodations at Big Sur
  • There are cozy little cabins and a campground as well just close to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. The Riverside Campground and Cabins offers well equipped cottages with a kitchenette and bathroom and some share the facilities with the campground. It's beautiful located under redwood trees and an excellent alternative if the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is already fully booked,
  • Our luxury top tip is the Ventana Big Sur - An Alila Resort situated in a breathtaking scenery. The food at the on-site restaurant is incredible. You can really forget about everything except your time. Don't come here in a rush. You will love this cozy place and regret it if you stay here just for one night.
  • Excellent located at the park entrance is the Big Sur Lodge. The rooms are heated up with a cozy fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers tasty meals. Start your hike directly from the lodge and afterwards enjoy the outdoor pool during your stay.

 

Waterfall
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