The Dayoukeng Crater in Yangmingshan National Park is the biggest sulfur vent area in Taiwan, and would likely be the first place to spew lava in the event of a volcanic eruption. This along with Turtle Island are the two known active volcanos in Taiwan. The area was also an important historical sulfur mine. Currently access to Dayoukeng is closed, but you can fly a drone hear with a permit.
The area known as Yangmingshan now was formed by volcanoes about 700,000 years ago, forming many mountains about 1000 meters or less in northwestern Taiwan. The park still features active volcanoes, vents, and hot springs.
The original name of the area was Caoshan (grass mountain 草山). During the Qing Dynasty, the area was used to harvest sulfur, and many of the hills were burned to help catch sulfur thieves.
In 1927 during the Japanese era, Yangmingshan was made as the first national park in Taiwan, then known as Datunshan National Park Association.
In 1950 after the ROC took Taiwan Chiang Kai-shek renamed the park after the philosopher Wang Yangming, and called the area Yangmingshan.
In 1985, after resolving many land disputes, Yangmingshan National Park was officially designated as a national park in the ROC era.
Dayoukeng (literally "Big Oil Crater" gets its name because the there are two main sulfur vents on Yangmingshan, and it is the biggest sulfur vent area in Taiwan. Temperatures here can reach 120 degrees celcious, and the water is very acidic with a PH level of only 1-2. The venting crater lies about 805 meters above sea level. A few kilometers under the ground, there is a leftover lava chamber from a previous eruption that heats up ground water and sends it spewing back to the surface.
Sulfur mining at Dayoukeng Crater in Yangmingshan National Park started in the Qing Dynasty by a British mining company who first obtained the rights to mine here in 1897. Currently you can find lots of old mining equipment that were abandoned here. The Yulu Old Trail was built near Dayoukeng to transport mining materials. Mining sulfur ended with the formation of Yangmingshan National Park.
Dayoukeng lies in Jinshan District of New Taipei City.
It is a popular stop in Yangmingshan and has two parking lots and visitor's center. It is also one of the starting points for the Mt. Qixing Trail.
The visitor's center is open from 9 AM to 4:30 PM.
(parking 30 NT)
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Taipei, take provincial highway 2A north to the Zhuzihu Lookout. Keep right until you reach the turnoff the the Qingtiangang parking lot. Car parking is limited on weekends and the number of cars allowed up the mountain is also limited. There is also paid scooter parking.
By Bus: From Beitou MRT Station, Take Little Bus 9 (小9) to Qingtiangang Station (擎天崗).
Please see below:
I have flown a drone to Dayoukeng once. Walking there is strictly prohibited. In order to fly a drone there, you must submit an application to Yangmingshan National Park via their website at least seven days before you flight. Because it's hard to predict the weather seven days in advance, I applied for multiple weekends in a row.
Check out our drone video above for an overview of the area, taken with permission of Yangmingshan National Park.
Or check out the 360 degree spherical panorama above, taken with permission of Yangmingshan National Park. This is the highest quality panorama we have ever shared.
To start off, you can either hike up the Yulu Old Trail (魚路古道) from the road below coming from Jinshan, or you can start at the end of the trail at the top of Qingtiangang Grasslands shown above.
I recommend going from Qingtiangang Grasslands because you can see wild water buffalo and it is easier to hike.
The Jinbaoli Trail Gate starts at the edge of Qingtiangang and heads down to where you can see Dayoukeng.
"Jian Da-shi and the Jinbaoli Trail Gate"
"The Jinbaoli Trail Gate was used in earlier days to control entry into the military stronghold within the walls. When the Qing court signed the treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, ceding Taiwan to Japan, the island’s people rose up in protest and a continuous series of battles ensues. The leader of the marred resistance in northern Taiwan, Jian Da-shi, made his base in Yangmingshan and, according to legend, built low walls and a gate of stones and logs, whether this was true or not is still pending further study, but in the end he could not resist the overwhelming Japanese forces and surrendered to them at Zhishanyan in Shilin in 1898. The Japanese allowed him and his followers to remain in the mountains and arranged for them to build a road from Shaigengliao though Shanzaihou to Shanzhuhu. Later on, Jian joined up with local bandits, when the Japanese found out about this, they mounted a campaign that resulted in his death in 1900.
With the passage of time, the wall and the gate fell into ruin and disappeared. The present gate was rebuilt in 1997, beside a monument that the Japanese had erected in 1922 to mark the boundary of their reforestation efforts. After Taiwan was restored to Chinese administration in 1945, it served as a boundary marker for Yangmingshan Ranch."
The Jinbaoli Old Trail (金包理大路) and Yulu Old Trail are one in the same.
After walking through the gates and down the trail to the right, you can see steam coming from the crater.
There are also great views of Jinshan.
"Dayoukeng and the Guard Camp"
"The mining sulfur has a long history in Taiwan, the Mountains were the islands most important center of the industry. The biggest sulfur refining sites here were Sihuanping, Dayouklegn, Xiaoyoukeng, and Lengshuikeng. Since sulfur was a vital material for making explosive powder, the Qing Dynasty court was worried that anti-Qing forces in Taiwan would acquire gunpowder and so issued an order banning the mining of sulfur. Flatland tribesmen were stationed at the different production sites to enforce the order.
A site below Dayoukeng, where only the ruins of a stone wall remain, is said to be where the men guarding the Dayoukeng mine were stationed. The establishments and manning of this sulfur garrison illustrated the Qing government's control of resources in the area. The geology of Dayoukeng is unstable and the area is not open to the public, so do not enter. Keep yourself safe."
Another view of Jinshan.
I hiked down to the right a little further. The trail does not get close enough to Dayoukeng to see it, but if you have a drone and apply for a permit from the park you can fly over it.
You can see the trail I was flying from on the mountain in the background. Steam from the hole is visible from the trail.
View inside the main crater with leftover mining supplies and the main steam vent. I think most of the leftover things here are peices for pipes.
Another view inside the crater.
View looking toward Lesser Guanyinshan.
There are more steam vents near the main creater.
Also there are a few abandoned structures, like this old brick building, which is likely the guard camp that the sign was referring to.
Looking toward Jinshan.
View of the sulfuric rivier below.
One last view of the ancient trails at Dayoukeng. It is possible to get a permit to enter this location but they are hard to get. It is much easier to get a permit for a drone.
Don't try to tresspass here, it is a very dangerous area and you could easily injur yourself, not to mention be fined by the park.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs on Yangmingshan to come!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.