Inspired Travel: Zhangye's Mountains

by  Andrew Villagomez | Aug 30, 2013
Zhangye National Geopark, China
Zhangye National Geopark, China / tupianlingang/iStock

With its various reds, yellows, and greens, the oft-photographed Zhangye Danxia landform is known as the eye candy of Zhangye, China. This national geopark is filled with colorful hills and rock formations that look like an artist swept a rosy paint brush across the land. The multi-colored landscape was formed out of reddish sandstone that has eroded over 24 million years into the various mountains surrounded by curved cliffs and unusual rock formations that we see today.

When to go: Since being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, located in northwest-central Gansu province, has quickly become a popular tourist attraction, and a number of boardwalks and roads are being built to encourage more visitors; a yearly tourism festival is also held to showcase Zhangye's unique landscape and culture. Late summer and late spring are ideal times to visit for their moderate weather, with May boasting average highs of 23 degrees Celsius (about 73 degrees Fahrenheit), and not much rain.

What to do: When you arrive at the gated area (admission is $6.55), via an hour-long taxi ride from central Zhangye, you can then hop on an eco-shuttle ($3.25) that makes four varying stops along the route for you to explore and take photos. With a total area of 410 square kilometers (about 254 square miles), the tour of the park takes about two hours. If choose to hike instead, it is recommended to hire a local guide who can point out the best viewing spots and hidden trails.

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