Situated in the northern section of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, is the sensational Yuanjiajie Scenic Area. Both Yuanjiajie and Zhangjiajie comprise the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wulingyuan Scenic Area. With its otherworldly natural beauty, Yuanjiajie is widely regarded as the most impressive component to the entire UNESCO site. The stone column formations complete with vegetation on the platforms are unlike any other place on Earth. Yuanjiajie Scenic Area is definitely a stunning must-see attraction that simply cannot be missed.
- Located in Hunan province, Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, along with Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, and Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve make up Wulingyuan.
- UNESCO inscribed the entire area as a World Heritage Site in 1992.
- There are four main sites that comprise Yuanjiajie Scenic Area which include Mihun Tai, Tianxia Diyi Qiao, Hou Huayuan, and Qiankun Zhu.
- James Cameron, the filmmaker behind the Oscar-winning Avatar, was inspired by the landscapes found within the scenic area.
History Of Yuanjiajie Scenic Area
Comprising one of four subsections of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Wulingyuan, Yuanjiajie Scenic Area is often regarded as the most spectacular. The soaring pillars of limestone with platforms of vegetation rising hundreds of meters into the sky, is a unique topography unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, and the entirety of the Wulingyuan site cover a staggering 65,235 acres in Hunnan province. This serves as an oasis of outstanding natural beauty within a densely populated agricultural region. That said, Yuanjiajie, and all of Wulingyuan, provide essential habitant for numerous threatened species of plants and animals, including the Asiatic black bear, Chinese water deer, and dhole (also known as the Asiatic wild dog).
In 1988, recognizing the tremendous importance of the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area and all of Wulingyuan, the Chinese State Council designated the entire property as a national key scenic area. Thereafter, it was protected under provincial and national regulations and laws. However, a heavily populated agricultural and commercialized region surrounds this protected zone. By 1999, the decision was made to demolish settlements located within Wulingyuan, expand the protected zone, and promote eco-tourism. The Administrative Bureau of Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is the government entity that manages the entire site. In 2000, the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area and Protection Office opened specifically for this area.
By 2005, the entirety of Wulingyuan, including Yuanjiajie Sceneic Area fell under even stricter conservation regulations as a World Heritage Site. Special organizations were established to specifically study the impact of ecotourism on the area, and implement long-term environmental protection plans. Everything from the ecology and water quality, to the activities and number of visitors permitted into the site each season is now monitored and controlled.
Culture Of Yuanjiajie Scenic Area
Located within Yuanjiajie, there are four main scenic sites including the Imperial Garden, the Mihuntai Platform, The Southern Pillar, and the First Bridge Under Heaven. In addition, there are numerous other sites that can be enjoyed while at Yuanjiajie.
The Imperial Garden: Located in the northern part of Yuanjiajie, this section of the scenic area is also known as the “Rear” or “Back” Garden. The landscape consists of soaring sandstone pillars and deep ravines with dense forest growing below. Situated on each of the landforms, are dense shrub and tree growth.
The Mihuntai Platform: This natural stone observation area is considered the best viewing platform in Yuanjiajie. The panoramic views of the scenic area from this platform are truly breathtaking.
The Southern Pillar: Also referred to as “The Pillar Between Earth and Heaven”, this fascinating natural feature is said to be the inspiration for the world James Cameron created in the blockbuster film, Avatar. Soaring 150 meters in high, and located 1074 meters above sea level, this pillar of stone is a magnificent sight to behold. In 2010, the Southern Sky Pillar was officially renamed “Hallelujah Mountains”.
The First Bridge Under Heaven: This is regarded as one of the 10 wonders in all of Wulingyuan. Also known as the “Bridge Across the Sky”, this natural stone bridge stretches 25 meters across two mountains. With a vertical height of 357 meters, this enchanting site surrounding by clouds is considered the highest natural “bridge” on Earth.
Yuanjiajie Scenic Area is located in the northern-most section of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It can be accessed by walking an arduous incline following the forest park’s Golden Whip Stream until arriving at a sign indicating Yuanjiajie Scenic Area. Conversely, the easier route is to follow Golden Whip Stream to the scenic site Shui Rao Xi Men, then take a bus to Bailong Lift. This is an incredible outdoor elevator built into the side of the mountain that ravels 40 storeys in two minutes. Once at the summit, visitors can take the bus that travels to the Mihuntai Platform, which is the entrance to Yuanjiajie Scenic Area.
- When visiting Yuanjiajie Sceneic Area be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Hiking boots (or something similar) are highly recommended.
- Yuanjiajie Sceneic Area is open from 8 AM to 5 PM, daily.
- It takes about five hours to visit all the sites within the scenc area.
- Visitors are advised to bring enough food, as there are no restaurants located inside the scenic area.