Situated near the world-famous Wulingyuan district of Zhangjiajie, is the incredible Yellow Dragon Cave. This stunning karst cave (also known as Huanglong Cave) is a sprawling, fantastical wonderland. Some of the largest caverns within Yellow Dragon Cave are the size of stadiums. The cave is an extremely popular site with visitors, and has a designated Huanglong Cave scenic area. It was rated as one of the first “4A” national tourist sites in China. Yellow Dragon Cave is certainly an attraction that cannot be missed.
- Yellow Dragon Cave is located in the eastern portion of Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, which is the largest of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wulingyuan’s three subsections.
- The cave is gargantuan, measuring over 15 km in length, 140 meters at its highest point, and covering an area of over 48 hectares.
- It is actually a complex network of interconnected caves, complete with underground lakes and rivers.
- As of 2010, more than a million tourists visited Yellow Dragon Cave, per year.
History Of Yellow Dragon Cave
Yellow Dragon Cave became known to the outside world when cavers (the exploration of wild cave systems) discovered it in 1982. Until then, local people were aware of its existence, believing it to be the sacred home of a yellow dragon and spirits. Hence, the name it was given. The literal translation of “Huánglóng Dòng”, means “yellow dragon cave”.
Recognizing the importance of the complex site, Yellow Dragon Cave was deemed the “Huanglong Cave scenic area”. The Chinese government deemed it one of the first national “4A” rated scenic areas in China. Until 1997, the scenic area was managed and controlled by the provincial government of Hunan. Management was then transferred to China Datong Co. Ltd., a Beijing-based company.
In 2009, the surrounding landscape adjacent to the entrance of Yellow Dragon Cave was restored and rejuvenated. It was unveiled as “Huanglong Cave Ecology Square” and became part of the scenic area. The surrounding landscape had been rural farmland with rice paddies, prior to the discovery of the cave complex. Thus, as part of the recovery process, rice paddies were reintroduced, in addition to a cluster of traditional indigenous dwellings that represented regional lifestyles.
In 2010, the government of Zhangjiajie commissioned the construction of the "Hallelujah Concert Hall", which is considered the centerpiece of the square. Inspired by the geological structure of the surrounding limestone mountains, the hall is made of tilted layers of limestone slates and glass. In an attempt to integrate the structure into the natural landscape, grass was planted on its rooftop.
Culture Of Yellow Dragon Cave
Yellow Dragon Cave is divided into wet and dry levels. There are four levels in total, with two underground rivers, three underground waterfalls, an underground lake, 13 cavern chambers, and a staggering ninety-six passageways. Because of its wide variety of stalactites, stalagmites, and other stone columns, Yellow Dragon is considered one of the best examples of a karst cave complex in the world.
The largest cavern chamber in Yellow Dragon Cave is known as “Dragon Palace”. It covers about 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft), with a height of roughly 40 m (44 yards). This chamber houses more than 2000 stalagmites and stalactites of varying sizes and shapes. Over 500 of the stalagmites measure more than a meter (1.1 yards) in length. The largest stalagmite in Yellow Dragon Cave is a jaw-dropping 15 meters high, and about 10 meters wide.
Of the three waterfalls located in Yellow Dragon Cave, the tallest is Tianxian Waterfall at about 50 meters (160 ft) in height. This incredible spectacle was formed the three largest springs found in the cave complex.
One of the main highlights of Yellow Dragon Cave is the chamber known as the “Labyrinth”, or “Maze”. Located on the first level of the complex, this chamber occupies about 1,600 square meters (1,900 square yards). It contains a large variety of stalactites and stalagmites, some resembling animals and flowers.
Meandering throughout Yellow Dragon Cave, Xiangshui River has a total length of 2,820 meters (3,084 yards). The deepest point of the river measures about 12 meters. Visitors can enjoy a 10-minute boat ride on the river, which is including in the admission price. An interesting component to Xiangshui River, is that its temperature stays at about 16°C (61°F) throughout the year. The river is also an ideal habitat for the endangered Chinese giant salamander, which is the largest salamander and largest amphibian in the world.
- Visitors are reminded that the temperature inside Yellow Dragon Cave is always colder than outside. Therefore, wearing thick clothing is highly advisable to remain comfortable.
- The best time to visit Yellow Dragon Cave is from April to October.
- The cave complex is extremely popular with visitors, so if you want to avoid the crowds, arrive early in the day.
- There nearly 1000 stairs in the cave complex, and long walkways throughout. Wear comfortable shoes and be aware of slippery steps.