Zhangye Danxia National Geopark (Rainbow Mountains), covering an area of 322 square kilometers, is located in the northern part of China about midway along the border with Mongolia. It rests in the foothills of the Qilian Mountains, the rock formations and rolling hills almost look as if they were painted. It would say that Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is the most colorful national park.
Zhangye National Geopark divides into two scenic areas: Colorful Danxia is the most popular and most developed area of the park. Binggou Danxia, located on the north bank of Liyuan River, is a second area that offers additional views of amazing landscapes.
How was Zhangye Danxia Formed?
Geologists believe that the folding of layered oceanic crust forms Danxia topography. The colorful landscapes were created by sandstone and minerals being layered atop each other over the years; exposed slanting rock layers have different colors, textures, shapes, sizes, and patterns.
Rain, wind, and time have further sculpted the rock formations and rolling hills into various displays of pillars and ravines. The combination of differences in density and erosion create towering peaks, cave holes, and stone halls. The erosion and tectonic plates have worked together to create unusual patterns to be viewed by all.
How to Visit Zhangye Danxia Geological Park?
The First Platform
Enter the Danxia Geological Park; there will be a bus to take everyone to visit. For many visitors, the four viewing platforms which can be all visited according to the different routes of the gate entrance, are the best places to observe the landform. Outside the primary access to the park, there are many shops selling souvenirs, drinks, and snacks, and you can find refreshment stands and toilets near the platforms.
The first platform is about a 10-minute walk from the main gate; the second is a further 10-minute walk; the third is about another 8-minute walk. It will take about a 3 to a 4-minute bus ride to the fourth platform, which is just a bit further.
You need to use the sightseeing buses within the national park because no private cars or tourist buses are allowed. Bus service is regularly available for all travel between the platforms. There are three different sightseeing bus routes, one for each of the park entrances:
North entrance route: north entrance – platform 2 – platform 1 – platform 3 – platform 4 – north entrance
East entrance route: east entrance – platform 2 – platform 1 – platform 3 – platform 4 – east entrance
West entrance route: west entrance – platform 1 – platform 3 – platform 4 – platform 2 – west entrance
First Viewing Platform (Colorful Meeting Fairy Platform)
The first viewing platform is the largest platform and the nearest to the entrance. Cross the road to find a series of platforms. Most people go to the closest shuttle bus drop-off point, but if you keep walking to the furthest one, you will have the best views, and you may even have it all to yourself.
Views here are probably best in the afternoon, but if you come in the morning, it's still worth seeing.
Second Viewing Platform (Colorful Sea of Clouds Platform)
The Third Platform
Rock formations you can see here include: "Colorful Flying Clouds", "Huge Scallop Rock Cumulus", "Monks Worship Buddha," and "Spirit Monkey Views the Sea".
Third Viewing Platform (Colorful Embroidered Platform)
It is another fantastic lookout point, and the sediment layers are said to look like an embroidered piece of silk with red, white, and yellow ribbons.
The third viewing platform allows a view of the famous 'Seven-Color Fan'. The mountain looks like it has been painted with a colorful palette. The enormous rolling hills look very soothing with their pastel colors.
Fourth Viewing Platform (Colorful Clouds Platform)
The fourth viewing platform has the most stunning view. It is on a ridge that runs from east to west. Standing on the rim and looking south, you can feast your eyes on the variegated colors of "Seven-Color Mountain.”
Binggou Danxia Geopark
Binggou Danxia lies another 15 kilometers or so beyond Colorful Danxia. Don't be misled by the Chinese name, which translates as "ice ravine". You shouldn't expect to see any ice here, unless perhaps if you visit in the winter. The name refers to the shape of one of more well-known rock formations in Binggou, which is said to resemble melting icicles.
Covering an area of more than 300 sq km. Binggou Danxia Landform is the best Mulion- like palace style Danxia Landform in China, which has the most peculiar form and complete development in China. In this park, the focus is on shapes rather than colors. You'll see palaces, camels and shrines carved out of the rockface by Mother Nature.
How to Get to Zhangye Danxia Geological Park?
Flight to Zhangye:
Hot Air Balloon in Danxia Park
Lanzhou, Xi'an, Urumqi, and Dunhuang have direct flights to Zhangye Ganzhou Airport. You can hire a taxi to the park at the airport. Otherwise, you can take a cab to West Bus Station, take a bus to Danxia at the bus station, get off at the intermediate stop Nantaicun, and walk to the Geopark.
Get to Lanzhou first and Transfer to Zhangye:
Lanzhou is more convenient to get to Zhangye. One can get to Lanzhou first and then take a flight, high-speed train (Lanzhou West Railway Station - Zhangye West Railway Station), or bus (at Lanzhou East Bus Station) to get to Zhangye, and then go to West Bus Station of the city to take a bus to the Geopark.
When is the best time to see the Rainbow Mountains?
The best time to visit Zhangye is from June to September due to the temperate climate. Sunrise and sunset are the perfect times as the sun cast a beautiful glow that accentuates the colors of the mountains, especially at sunset, when the colors change continuously, showing yellow and red layers covered by a light gray layer.
Don’t worry about missing sunrise or sunset, our local guide knows the best times, and will arrange your tour to make sure you get the most beautiful scenes.
Take a coat for morning and evening visits, temperatures drop rapidly at night. And wear sunscreen to deal with the intense sun
Bring bottled water, and a face mask or scarf may be helpful on more windy days.
A hat and a pair of sunglasses are recommended.
Wear walking shoes, especially if you are taking an extended tour.
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