Situated in the northwest region of Sichuan province, is the breathtaking Huanglong Scenic Area (also known as “Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area”). With its lush, forest ecosystem, snow-capped peaks, and spectacular hot springs, Huanglong is a veritable natural wonderland. The scenic area is also home to several endangered species, including the giant panda. UNESCO deemed Huanglong Scenic Area a World Heritage Site in 1992. Because of its phenomenal natural beauty, and historic and cultural importance, Huanglong Scenic Area is an attraction that certainly cannot be missed.
- Huanglong Scenic Area is located 370 km from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, in the southern portion of the Minshan mountain range.
- The scenic area covers a total area of 700 square kilmeters (230 square miles).
- The region is known as “Huanglong Valley”, and contains snow-capped peaks, lush forests, waterfalls, and numerous travertine lakes.
- Huanglong Scenic Area is home to several endangered species, including the giant panda and the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey.
History Of Huanglong Scenic Area
The Huanglong Valley, which comprises Huanglong Scenic Area was formed over thousands of years of geological evolution. The scenic area has an altitude from 1,700 meters at the valley floor, to 5,588 meters at the highest snow-capped peaks. It also contains the easternmost glacier in all of China, which has formed over thousands of years.
The entirety of Huanglong Scenic Area contains such a fascinating variety of geological landforms. The combination glacial movement, water, and climactic conditions have created this world-renowned travertine landscape. Travertine is a sort of limestone, formed usually by hot springs. This sedimentary rock has accumulated extensively throughout Huanglong Scenic Area, creating the spectacular beauty of the natural landscape and pools.
Because of its otherworldly beauty, Huanglong Scenic Area has been regarded as sacred for numerous groups. Since ancient times, the local inhabitants have worshipped certain places within the scenic area, believing them to be inhabited by gods and deities.
During the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644 CE), several Buddhist and Taoist temples were built throughout Huanglong Scenic Area. Located at an altitude of 3,470 m, Huanglong Middle Temple is a Buddhist temple constructed during this period. In addition, Huanglong Ancient Temple (also referred to as “Yellow Dragon Taoist Temple”) was built during the Ming dynasty. It is located 3,558 m above sea level. Both temples can be found in the Huanglong Valley portion of the scenic area.
In October 1982, Huanglong Scenic Area was named a national key scenic spot by the State Council of China. In 1992, the area was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with the official name, “Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area”. In 2000, UNESCO also named Huanglong a Biosphere Reserve.
Culture Of Huanglong Scenic Area
Huanglong Scenic Area is expansive, covering a total area of 700 square kilometers (60,000 hectares). Some of the major scenic spots found within the area include Huanglong Valley, Muni Valley, Xuebaoding (Snow Mountain Peak), and Xueshan Ridge (Snow Mountain Ridge).
Huanglong Valley transverses 3.6 km of the scenic area, much of which is travertine formations that have formed colourful pools of varying size and shape. It is nestled amid snow-capped mountains, and also features lush forest, with travertine caves and waterfalls. Upon entering Huanglong Valley, visitors are greeted by the exquisite “Guests Welcome Pond”. This stunning geological formation is actually a collection of 350 crystal clear ponds clustered together.
Travelling along Huanglong Valley there are many other scenic spots including Lianyan Pond, Marvelous Flying Waterfall, Washing Cave, Azalea Pond, Bonsai Pond, and the aforesaid Huanglong Middle Temple and Huanglong Ancient Temple.
Muni Valley contains the largest amount of lush forest in Huanglong Scenic Area. This attraction features Erdao Lake and Zhaga Waterfall, which is the largest travertine waterfall in China. The scenic spot where Zhaga Waterfall is located extends about 5 km (3 miles) along Muni Valley. Situated below the waterfall is “Feicui (Emerald) Spring”. Local people, because of its apparent medicinal qualities, revere this natural hot spring as a sacred place.
Erdao Lake is located in the northern region of Muni Valley. This stunning body of water changes colour depending on the season. Several extraordinary underground travertine caves connect Erdao with other smaller lakes in the area.
- It recommended allotting a full day to explore the spectacular beauty of Huanglong Scenic Area.
- The scenic area is open from 8 AM to 5 PM, daily.
- During the winter months, some areas of Huanglong Scenic Area are closed because of weather conditions in order to ensure visitors safety.
- Visitors are reminded that Huanglong Scenic Area has an elevation between 1,700 meters and 5,588 meters, with the average altitude being around 3,000 meters. It is recommended to be mindful of altitude sickness, and to take some time to acclimatize to the elevation.