Seoraksan National Park: Ulsan Bawi

We see a spine of tall granie cliff with bonsai-like pine trees growing out here and then, a staircase which many people are ascending, and on the left mixed broadleaf-pine forest with green, yellow, and orange colors blanketing the mountainsides.  Above is a clear blue sky.

Some people consider Seoraksan to be South Korea’s most beautiful national park. Thoroughly exploring the park would have required a week, and I only had two days, but I did see some of the parks most famous sights, such as Ulsan Bawi.

The map shows that Gangwon Province is in northeastern South Korea, and that Seoraksan is in the northeastern part of Gangwon Province

‘Ulsan Bawi’ means ‘Ulsan Rock’. Ulsan is a city just north of Busan.

The map shows that Ulsan City is in the southeastern corner of South Korea, just north of Busan

The legend goes like this: rocks from all over the Korean peninsula were called to create Kumgangsan (currently in North Korea), the most beautiful mountain in the world. This particular rock was to be Ulsan’s contribution to Kumgangsan, but it was so big and slow that it was too late to form a part of Kumgangsan.


Thus, it headed back to Ulsan, but then noticed the beauty of Seoraksan on the way. The rock from Ulsan fell in love with the scenery of Seoraksan, so it decided to make Seoraksan its new home, and has been there ever since.

Above is blue sky in sunset glow, there is a jagged granite peak in the distance, and below in the foreground are trees with bright red leaves

One of the many peaks of Seoraksan (not Ulsan Bawi)

Incidently, the most popular hiking spot in Ulsan, and one of the ’12 Scenic Sites of Ulsan’ is Gajisan (Mt. Gaji), and I think the photo of Gajisan in this blog does look a bit like Ulsan Bawi. Maybe the summit of Gajisan is Ulsan Bawi’s cousin.

We see a wide granite cliff on top of a mixed conifer-broadleaf forest with blue sky overhead

And there is Ulsan Bawi sitting in its current home

I visited Seoraksan during the autumn foliage season, which is the most popular time of year. Futhermore, due to weather forecasts, I went during a weekend. The result: tons and tons of people.

Lots of people in a courtyard amid beautiful mountains and a blue sky above

There are a number of Buddhist temples within Seoraksan National Park. One is right next to the park entrance, and serves free tea (they accept donations and sell packaged tea which people can brew at home). There was a group of Buddhist monks visiting from another country and … I think they were speaking Russian? I later found out that Buddhism is experiencing a revival in Russia, so the monks really might have been from Russia.

In the courtyard of a temple there is a stone lantern, and in the distance mountain scenery under a blue sky

This temple is the photo is a bit further from the park entrance, but is still just an easy stroll away.


The trail to Ulsan Bawi, of course, was full of people. The first half of the trail, which leads to yet another Buddhist shrine, is super easy.

A traditional Korean Buddhist building with a granite rock behind it and a tree with orange leaves to its left; there are quite a few people around

This small Buddhist shrine has a spring offering drinking water to people.

Above teh roof of a shrine building is a large granite rock with a tiny, bonsai-like pine tree growing out of it, with clear blue sky above

Past this shrine the trail became much steeper, until we reached the base of Ulsan Bawi itself, from where the trail turned into a steep staircase


That staircase was a real slog, especially with all of the people on it, but we could see views like this:

Mountainsides covered with trees with green and orange leaves under a blue sky

And views like this:

The cliffs of Ulsan Bawi rise up with a few pine trees growing along it, and forests of mixed colors below, and the blue sky above

And views like this:

We see cliff and pine trees in shadow

And views like this:

With blue sky in the upper left, the lower right is filled with granite cliff, and on the right we see a single pine tree growing out of a crevice.

And finally, and the top of Ulsan Bawi itself, we see this:

A large cliff of granite extends in a vertical line, with sheer mountains covered with forest on both sides.  The left side is illuminated by sunlight, and the right is in shadow.

If you’d like to see what Ulsan Bawi looks like in spring, you can check out KLIMBING KOREAN MOUNTAINS: Ulsan Bawi


About Sara K.

Sara K. is an aromantic asexual from California who has previously lived in Taiwan. She blogs at the notes which do not fit, has previously been a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, and has written guest posts for Hacking Chinese. She enjoys reading, travel, live theatre, learning languages, and gardening.
This entry was posted in Gangwon, Hike, Mostly Photos, National Park, Temple and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Seoraksan National Park: Ulsan Bawi

  1. Pingback: Temple by the Horse’s Ears, Temple of a Dedicated Stone-Piler | S.K. in S.K.

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  3. kabeiser says:

    I posted the blog with your photo and links. Let me know what you think. Kirk –


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