Are these real? Are they a painting? A dream? Where am I? These are the questions that will swamp your mind the minute you set your eyes on the Rainbow Mountains. They are real – and you are in the heart of China. Zhangye Danxia is a National Geological Park home to these beautiful views, and now a new location on your travel bucket list.
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The National Park of Zhangye Danxia
Zhangye Danxia celebrates its immense collection of rock formations. They are unique, defined by the stripes of color that pattern the landscape. In a certain light, these mountains are specially illuminated. The different colors of the rock clearly define themselves, yet work in harmony together. Hence the name – Rainbow Mountains. A single beautiful image divided into separate, distinguished features.
The park itself is 510 square kilometers wide. The landscape of the park has been determined one of the most beautiful in China. The Rainbow Mountains themselves are a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you are familiar with America, it might remind you of the Grand Canyon. However, this place is far beyond comparison.
This is a site of geological marvel. Formed from eroded red sandstone, it is full of peaks, troughs, and outcrops. All of which contribute to the dynamic nature of the land. The landscape holds constant desert conditions. In these settings, erosion is prominent. An effective natural force, it created over millions of years, the dramatic display we are lucky enough to witness today.
Immediate color sits in front of you, and dark silhouettes line the horizon behind. This beauty appears to go on forever. Explore it! Walk or drive the flat roads that navigate the towering ridges. Get out and touch to the rugged aged rock for yourself. The scenery is entertainment enough and will engage your eyesight for hours, days. There is an unlimited texture to the Rainbow Mountains. Rather than travelers, perhaps this is more a place for artists. The landscape is so far beyond beauty we are used to it, is seems imagined, dreamt: an artist’s ideal.
There are various viewing platforms scattered around Zhangye Danxia. Each of them gives individually beautiful perspectives of the park. From high up, you receive a grand view of the scenery. It is vast and expansive. The overwhelming reality of its magnificence can only be realized at these moments. However, immersed you are on the ground; these platforms offer a whole new sense of perspective.
The most prominent platform is close to the main entrance. It is the most popular and arguably the best, offering stunning scenic views. However, if the original beauty of the Rainbow Mountains really captures you, it is worth going further. Visit the third viewing platform for close up views of the famous seven-color fan. This area is the inspiration for artists and photographers, as well as for any traveler. The colors are distinct, yet organic. It is an absorbing experience to witness this natural phenomenon.
City of Zhangye
If the beauty of the Rainbow Mountains is not enough for you, there is always the city of Zhangye to explore. There are, in particular, two temples well worth a visit. The Great Buddha Temple is over 1,000 years old. The statue really is great, one of the largest in China. The aesthetics are fantastic. However, this place also holds a deep cultural and spiritual history. Go there to learn more about the roots of Chinese past. Another is the Mati Temple. Although not as grand, it does host hundreds of grottos. Also, it accommodates a wealth of artistic, religious figurines.
How do I get there?
The nearest city, Zhangye hosts a small airport. However, Lanzhou is the closest with direct flights from the major cities. The prices are low, and the journey is short. Trust us; the trip is well worth it. There are also trains that take you this way. Of course, they take longer but do not dismiss the countryside of China you can witness on the way.
Yes, these beautiful Rainbow Mountains have been around for millions of years. But the time to visit them is now! Jump on a plane and be sure to find yourself in the magnificent Zhangye Danxia National Park – you will never regret it.