Wulingyuan Scenic Area
Located in northwestern Hunan, the Wulingyuan Scenic Area consists of three parts: Zhangjiajie National Park, Suoxiyu Nature Reserve and Tianzi Mountain Natural Reserve, covering a total area of 135 square miles.
The Wulingyuan Scenic Area has some 3,100 quartz and sandstone peaks (of which over 1,000 rise at least 650 feet), with deep valleys and grottoes which are vast, lofty and elegant. In the forests which cover more than 90 percent of the scenic area, visitors will find rare species of trees, birds, and other animals. There also are streams, brooks, springs, lakes and waterfalls. The area is home to some 3,000 species of high-grade plants of which 35 are rare species under protection. There are also 116 types of animals living in Zhangjiajie, the first national park in China. The Wulingyuan Scenic Area was listed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 1992.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is known for being the first national forest park in China as well as featuring the extraordinary Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Cool in the summer and warm in the winter, the forest has a unique sub climate that helps it provide a favorable home to an abundance of flora and fauna including civet cats, giant salamanders, satyr tragopans, dove trees, maidenhair trees, Chinese yews, and Chinese tulip trees.
Originally a state-run tree farm, which was founded in 1958, it was officially approved to be a national forest park in 1982.
Golden Whip Stream
Golden Whip Brook meanders through 3.5 miles of mountains and valleys and is located inside the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. It is a great area for hiking or resting on rocks by the stream watching fish swim in water, and escaping the summer heat. Other places of interested include Golden Whip Rock, Purple Grass Pond, Jumping Fish Pond and Zhangliang Tomb, which is the park’s premier man-made attraction.
Tianzi Mountain is one of the four scenic zones in Wulingyuan. Named after Xiang Dakun who led a successful local farmersí revolt and called himself, Tianzi, the son of heaven, it has an area of 25 square miles and a peak at 4,140 feet. The mountainís average temperature is 53∞F, and it has a 240 day frost-free period of 240 days and a frozen period of 60-80 days.
At 4,980 feet, Tianmen Mountain’s elevation is the highest in Zhangjiajie. Due to its height, day time is longer than night time at the mountain and the temperature on the mountain is about 10∞c lower than in Zhangjiajie city. Sunrise on the mountain is 30 minutes earlier and the sunset is 45 minutes later than it is in the city areas. The mountain is also famous for its unique natural miracle – the Tianmen Cave. The door-like cave was created after a cliff collapsed.
Tianmen Mountain is highly regarded in Chinese culture as a heavenly mountain in the west of Hunan Province. It is believed to have absorbed its essence from nature over thousands of years, so it has become a popular destination to pray for a safe and healthful life.
The Tianmen Mountain Cableway
This is the longest mountain cableway in the world, its hypotenuse stretching out 24,459 feet (more than 4.5 miles) starting from the city center of Zhangjiajie to the ‘Hanging Garden’ on the mountain’s peak. A ride on the Tianmen Mountain Cableway offers the most stunning views of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.
Tianmen Cave (meaning the Heaven’s Gate in Chinese)
The cave is at an over 4,133 feet elevation, its height is 431.5 feet and the width is about 50 meters. It is unusual and magnificent. This surreal hole in the mountain and sky is like the door to heaven. To get to it, visitors will have to walk up 999 steps. It will be a tasking endeavor but at least they will be lucky because ‘9’ is the biggest number in Chinese culture and 999 means eternal life. One of the highlight of Tianmen Cave for visitors is the mystic views of fog and cloud way up there.
Yuanjiajie Scenic Area
Yuanjiajie is a naturally formed platform mountain, surrounded by higher, peculiarly-shaped summits which are separated by deep valleys. It is located in the northwest part of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan. There are two ways to get to the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area: One is from the Golden Whip Stream via Luanchuanpo to the Back Garden; the other is through the amazing Bailong Elevator. Through this elevator, tourists can ascend to the top of a peak to get a breath-taking view of its famous scene Shenbingjuhui, which means God’s Force Rally. It is also nicknamed the Fields and Gardens of the Heaven for its beautiful trees, ethnic houses and paddy fields on the high mountains.
The foremost attractions in this area include: Back Garden, breathtaking Mihun Stage, the First Bridge under the Sun, and others. Yuanjiajie lies between Huangshi Village (yellow stone stronghold) and Tianzi Mountain (Emperor Mountain).
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon
Located in the Cili County in Zhangjiaji, this Grand Canyon is a geological park about 60 square km from the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Tourists not only get to enjoy the magnetism of the mountain but also its colorful waters.