Gyeryongsan (or Kyeryongsan) National Park is a favorite tourist destination in South Korea. And indeed, the park is chockfull of attractions that has something for everybody – a wide variety of flora and fauna for nature lovers, 15 peaks for avid mountain climbers and hikers, temples and ruins for the culture vulture, plus a calm and tranquil atmosphere for those who want to get away from the hubbub of city life.
Gyeryongsan owes its name to its unique ridgeline – seen from afar, the mountain's ridgeline looks like a dragon wearing a chicken's crest at the top of its head. It is a place full of mystique and fascinating folk tales.
Delight in the many species of migratory birds (some of them rare!) and wild animals. The park is an excellent place to go bird-watching. Exert your mountain climbing powers and trek to the summits of Cheonhwangbong, Gwanembong, Sambulbng and Sinseongbong. A favorite among hikers and mountaineers is the Donghaksa Mountain Trail. You may even get to meet shamanists that climb the mount to meditate. Bask in the beauty of the sparkling waterfalls (Yongmun, Euseon, Amyongchu and Sutyongchu), intriguing rock formations and peaceful valleys (Sinwonsa, Gapsa, Yonghwasa and Donghaksa).
Gyeryongsan National Park is a park for all seasons – come winter, spring, summer or fall, you will find lovely views and experiences. Spring brings exquisite views of cherry blossoms and azaleas in full bloom. Summer is all about greenery alongside the valleys and cool, refreshing water in the parks many ponds. In autumn you will see the brilliant crimson red and orange of the maple trees. Winter provides the majestic view of snowcapped Sambulbong Peak plus a variety of snowscapes.
There are also ancient relics – pagodas and structures harking back to the Paekche era. You will find the famous Gak-sa, a temple founded by Ahdoh Wasang way back in 420. This was reconstructed by Heymung Taesa (a great monk) in 556. .. It is among the oldest temples in Korea. There is also the Donghak-sa, which is known for a training place of female Buddhist nuns. In addition, you should go to Shinwon-sa and Tonghak-sa. Shinwon-sa is a temple on the southwest side of the mountain and was founded by Boduk Sunsa. Meanwhile, Tonghak-sa is a shrine temple of the Koryo king Taejo. The temple is on the east side of the mountain. The mountain itself is considered a sacred place, as it was the Baekje Kingdom's central holy mountain. There are a number of shamanic shrines and hermitages. There a plenty of National Treasures and historic site monuments to be found in these temples and holy places.
Kyeryongsan was designated as a national park in 1968. The park spans three districts – namely, Nonsan, Daejeon and Kwangju. Mount Gyeryongsan itself is a magnifect mountain (unarguably the best in Chungnam). It lies between the Noryeong range and Charyong mountain ranges.
When visiting, take note that mountain access is only from March 1 to April 30 (Spring season) and November 15 to December 15 (Fall season). This is for helping prevent forest fires in the park. Also, if you want to climb the mountain from sunset to 2 hours before dawn, you will have to ask permission from the park management office.