With lush, serene forests and plunging waterfalls, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is a spectacular natural wonder. Situated next to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wulingyuan Scenic Area, the canyon is a nearly developed tourist destination. Visitors can experience incredible scenery, and also find cultural and historical sites as well. Hiking through Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is something every visitor to Hunan province must experience.
- Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is located around 50 km from downtown Zhangjiajie City.
- It is situated in Cili County, Hunan province.
- The canyon area comprises a total area of 60 square km, and is close to Wulingyuan Scenic Area.
- The canyon’s most famous attraction is the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge. When it opened to the public in 2016, it was the tallest and longest glass-bottomed bridge in the world.
History Of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is comprised of a stunning combination of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, caves, and cliffs. The canyon is located adjacent to ‘Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area’. This area is renowned for its thousands of sandstone pillars and peaks, some towering 660 ft (200 metres) in the air. This incredible natural phenomenon can be viewed from certain vantage points throughout Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. Wulingyuan was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
The original inhabitants of the canyon are believed to be ancestors of Tujia people. With a total population of over 8 million, they are the largest ethnic minority in China. The largest concentrations of Tujia live in within Hunan province, in the Wuling Mountains. They are renowned for their Baishou Dance, a 500-year-old intricate dance that incorporates 70 ritualistic gestures. This traditional dance represents Tujia life including hunting, farming, and wars. In addition, they are famous for their intricate brocade, referred to as “xilankapu”.
According to legend, the canyon was the site of a battlefield during the Ming dynasty of a peasant rebellion led by Li Zicheng, against Wu Sangui. Li Zicheng was a Chinese rebel leader who famously overthrew the Ming dynasty in 1644. He established the Shun dynasty, ruling as emperor over China for a year, until his death in 1645. Likewise, Wu Sangui was a Chinese general instrumental in the fall of the Ming dynasty, which led to the Qing dynasty. He defeated Li Zicheng, and over the next thirty years of strategic battles and maneuvers, eventually declared himself emperor in 1678. However, like Li Zicheng, his reign was short-lived. Emperor Kangxi (1654 to 1722) of the Qing dynasty, eventually defeated Wu Sangui.
Culture Of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon
Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge: Spanning the canyon between two mountain cliffs, this bridge is the most famous attraction in the canyon. Opened to the public on August 20, 2016, the bridge extends 430 m (1410 ft) in length, 14 m (46 ft) in width, and 360 m (1,180 ft) off the ground. Designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, it can accommodate 800 people at any given time. It is the largest and tallest glass-bottomed bridge in the world, providing a spectacular panoramic view of the entire canyon.
A Strip of Sky and Sky Ladder: Located near the entrance of the canyon, “A Strip of Sky” is a very narrow valley through which a single person can pass at a time. The valley is over 700 metres (2,296 ft) long, dropping 300 metres (985 ft) to the bottom. Once visitors have passed through this valley, they encounter “Sky Ladder”, a wooden path situated on steep cliffs. Walking along Sky Ladder offers incredible sweeping vistas of the surrounding area.
Red Flag Canal: This man-made canal extends over 10 km. Construction on the metre (3 ft) wide and deep canal began in 1964, and was completed in 1971. Because of the infrastructure of the canal, inhabitants of eight surrounding villages use the water for drinking and irrigating rice fields.
Bandits’ Caves: Because of the geography and topography of the canyon, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon contains numerous cave complexes. Over hundreds of years, various bandit groups have taken refuge within these caves. The last group was uprooted from the area in 1965, after the formation of People’s Republic of China.
Swallow Cliff: Thousands of rock swallows congregate and nest on what has been deemed Swallow Cliff. This species is smaller than ordinary swallows, and only nest on cliff precipices. Their nests are regarded as a delicacy, used in traditional swallow’s nest soup.
- Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is open to the public from 7:30 AM to 5 PM.
- Visitors with heart conditions, or other medical conditions are advised not to transverse the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge.
- Wear comfortable footwear and clothing. Expect to hike 4 or 5 hours through the canyon.
- The best times to visit Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon are in April, May, September, and October when it is comfortable weather.
- To reach Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, travel from Zhangjiajie City Bus Station to Wulingyuan Bus Station. From there, take the “Wulingyuan-Grand Canyon” bus that takes visitors directly to the canyon entrance.