Zhangye National Geopark
Zhangye National Geopark (also known as Zhangye Danxia National Park), perched at nearly 2,000 meters above sea level is located about 30 km west of Zhangye in Gansu province. The geological park has a spectacular Danxia landform area that covers about 50 square kilometers (19 square miles), but outside the confines of the geopark, it extends over approximately 510 km². The hills of red sand and sandstone and the multi-colored mountains that follow one another, almost look as if they were painted. The landscapes are surreal, is the most colorful national park in the world, so have given the site the nickname “Rainbow Mountains”.
Although Zhangye Danxia does not yet benefit from the fame of Zhangjiajie or Yunnan, it is nevertheless a major natural site in China and an essential spot to program during your stay in Gansu which will delight lovers of tourism off the beaten track. It is also in this place that parts of the scenes of Mulan released in theaters in 2020 and produced by Disney studios were shot.
How to get to Zhangye?
There are two train stations in Zhangye. The Zhangye West Station 7km from the center welcomes the high-speed trains while sleeper trains arrive at the Zhangye Station located northwest of the city.
How to get to Zhangye National Geopark?
Except for the taxi and express coach from Zhangye West Bus Terminal, the most convenient way is to use a private vehicle with a driver organized by the travel agency.
There are two main areas to visit in Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park:
Qicai Danxia: This is the heart of the park, Qicai Danxia, it is the most developed and visited part which is located 30 km west of the center of Zhangye. Recognized for its colorful rock formations, it has been named by Chinese media as having one of the most beautiful landscapes in China. Ideal for watching the sunset.
Binggou Danxia: 18km from Qicai Danxia, Binggou is located on the north bank of the Liyuan River and covers an area of 300 km², with an altitude varying between 1,500 and 2,500 meters. The beauty of the panorama here is also breathtaking. We advise you to visit it at dawn because the place is ideal to contemplate the sunrise.
If you have more time, don’t miss another geopark in the area that is little known but worth a detour.
Grand Canyon Pinshanhu: Located 1h30 by car north of the city of Zhangye and on the Badain jaran desert road, this canyon is home to magnificent natural landscapes, comparable to the Grand Canyon of Colorado. Entering this rugged and labyrinthine Grand Canyon, you will appreciate an extraordinary spectacle composed of stone forests, steep ravines, and sharp mountain peaks.
When to visit Zhangye Danxia?
The months between April to mid-October are the best time to visit Zhangye Danxia. The best times to enjoy the sceneries are early morning and late afternoon when the temperatures are lower and the colors brighter. The most beautiful moment is the sunset when the golden light of the sun shines on the red mountains.
To learn more about China’s climate, see our article: China Weather.
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