Xiaoyoukeng in Yangmingshan National Park is a large volcanic steam vent area with hiking trails, fumaroles, sulfur deposits, and natural hot springs. Even though the name means "small sulfur hole," it is perhaps the largest and most easily accessible volcanic steam vent area in Taiwan. One could say that it is the Yellowstone of Taiwan. It is a quiet a pleasant stop on the mountain and worth a visit on your trip to Yangmingshan.
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.
Xiaouyoukeng (literally "Small Oil Crater" gets its name because the there are two main sulfur vents on Yangmingshan, and it was thought to be the smaller one. 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.
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 Zhizihu Lookout. Keep right until you reach the turnoff the the Xiaoyoukeng parking lot on the right. 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 Xiaoyoukeng Station (小油坑).
Please see below:
I have been to Xiaoyoukeng about four times. It is really one of the most impressive natural sights in Taiwan, and it really reminded me a lot of Yellowstone National Park in the US. It is definitely worth a stop on Yangmingshan.
Check out our drone video above for an overview of the area. Please note the above footage was taken with permission of Yangmingshan National Park.
Or check out the 360 degree spherical panorama above. Please note the above footage was taken with permission of Yangmingshan National Park.
Coming up from Zhuzihu you can see Xiaoyoukeng clearly from the roadside.
This is the view from Xiaoyoukeng from the road to Datunshan. You can see here it lies at the bottom of Mt. Qixing.
Another view of Xiaoyoukeng at Sunset. It is a really big hole.
The weather at Xiaoyoukeng can change in an instant. One minute it can be sunny, the next totally foggy. The parking lot is big but on weekends it can get full easily.
Another view from the road below.
There is a small nature trail into the crater that you can finish walking in less than five minutes.
There are lots of signs and ralings here so you don't fall in.
The trail doesn't go all the way in the crater, but close.
You can see clearly from the trail the fumaroles or sulfur vents and the whole place smells like rotten eggs.
There are a few places that are constantly putting out steam.
Also there are a few boiling puddles with hot spring water, that are much too hot to touch. You can see the boiling water above.
The trail cuts into two paths so you can see the sulfur vents clearly.
Steam vent coming right out of the rocks.
Another steam vent in the grass.
More steam vents across the crater.
Looking toward Zhuzihu at sunset.
Looking down at the main steam vent which is ofcourse off limits.
Last view of the steam vent
Don't forget the trail to Mt. Qixing goes over Xiaoyoukeng.
Xiaoyoukeng is definitely a unique geological feature in Xiaoyoukeng and I hope you can come visit soon.
Just a short walk down from Xiaoyoukeng you can also see Qixing Waterfall right from the side of the road.
Xiaoyoukeng is also the easiest starting point to climb Qixingshan, the tallest mountian in Yangminshan National Park. It is only about a 30 minute walk away to the top.
Also in Yangmingshan National Park you can find Dayoukeng. The Dayoukeng Crater in Yangmingshan National Park 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. Currently access to Dayoukeng is closed, but you can fly a drone hear with a permit.
Sulfur mining at Dayoukeng Crater in Yangmingshan National Park started in the Qing Dynastty and ended with the formation of Yangmingshan National Park. Currently access to Dayoukeng is closed due to rockfalls and hot temperatures, but you can fly a drone hear with a permit.
And don't forget to visti Zhuzihu which is also right next to Xiaoyoukeng, especially during flower season.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs 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.