Formerly known as Ganzhou, the town was part of the Western Xia dynasty until it was conquered by Kublai Khan in 1227.
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park (Qicai Danxia) is a small park about 40 km from Zhangye where you can see a unique geological landscape, a painting I would say.
The Danxia National Park is about 30 minutes west by car, in the northwestern portion of Gansu Province, China.
Erosion of red sandstone conducted at forming isolated peaks and steep stratified outcrops that conducted at forming this amazing rainbow mountains.
Its particular geological structure, combined with long-term desert conditions, freeze-thaw peeling, and wind and water erosion gave rise to its present appearance.
It took over 24 million years to form the Zhangye Danxia National Geopark and can be dated back to the Cretaceous age. Formed from red-colored sandstones and conglomerates, the entire area is a unique illustration of petrographic geomorphology.
Imagine a layered cake and the effect is similar. Rain, wind and eons of time sculpted exceptional shapes, that include pillars, ravines and towers with endless patterns and sizes.
The colorful Zhangye Danxia National Geopark, known for its vivid kaleidoscope of rock formations, is one of the most beautiful landforms in all of China, comprising some 322 square kilometers (124 square miles).
It’s amazing to think that it is a naturally formed landscape with shades of blue, emerald, green, orange, red and yellow. There is a full seven differentiations of color, a feature for which is called China’s Rainbow Mountains.
Imagine this vast area of colour in the endless valleys punctuated by a number of waterfalls, that continue for miles and miles. It’s definitely like seeing a painting.
In 2010 six of the landscapes in the park were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and today Zhangye Danxia Geopark has become a major tourist attraction.
By bus from Zhangye to the park which is quite reasonable, or hire a taxi.
The best time to visit Zhangye National Park is from June to September, when the weather is comfortable and the combination of a strong sun and a little rain, brings out the colors even more.
Don’t recommend to go when it is raining or cloudy, as sunshine is needed for the best viewing of the color gradations.
The rest of the year is quite dry. The Park is well below freezing and windy in the winter and visiting is not recommended.
The best time to visit is in the morning and especially in the evening, where the color variation changes continuously. Sunset is at 7:30 pm local time in the spring and autumn and 8:00 pm in the summer.
As usual, expect to be crowded in July and August and on Chinese holidays. During the peak season, some 20,000 tourists visit daily.
It is available in the nearby community of Zhangye but if you’re feeling adventurous can also stay in the nearby yurts, known as KaoShan Luxury Tents, just 600 meters from the entrance.
Another wonderful place to visit 🙂