Zhangye – Geomorphologic Landscape Exemplar
– Geomorphologic Landscape Exemplar
Zhangye’s a natural landscape consists of Danxia landforms, snowy mountains, grasslands, forests, wetlands, and deserts.
WHEN northwest China is men - tioned, it usually evokes thoughts of wild deserts and desolate sand - storms. However, a natural land - scape consisting of Danxia landforms, snowy mountains, grasslands, forests, wetlands and deserts lies along the ancient Silk Road route: Zhangye, a historic city featuring the charm of southern and western China.
Zhangye – City of Water
The Heihe River stretches along the city of Zhangye. Gathering snowmelt from the Qilian Mountains, and with plentiful groundwater runoff, the river forms countless seasonal river branches and river bends. Through the centuries, its soubriquet “Water town in the Gobi Desert” has accorded it wide recognition. According to local proverbs and folk songs , the city is “half reeds, half towers” and “half of the whole town lit by mountain light seems to be towers and temples amid reedy creeks.” Local annals record ponds at each step, and fountains and weeping willows in every household.
At present, in order to embody its original style and natural landscape, as well as carry out ecological construction of the Hexi Corridor, Zhangye has initiated conservation works for the Heihe River basin and wetlands by building Zhangye National Wetland Park on the city’s northern suburbs. Sprawling over 4,000 hectares, the national AAAA scenic area combines sightsee-sightseeing, education and conservation.
Here where reed-filled stream are lit by light reflected from the mountains, waterfowl congregate. Visitors can take battery cars or boats through the wetlands, enjoying this refreshing reservoir of oxygen and its intimacy between humans and nature. Visitors from both home and abroad can ramble with family members to relish this gift of nature. Reeds as high as a person swaying in the wind create a habitat for water birds such as gulls and egrets. In summer, verdant reeds, bluish lakes and gentle breezes dispel the burning heat of the ardent sun. Closer to the urban area the harmony between humans and nature composes a canvas where modern life assimilates with the natural scenery in a tranquil way.
The name Zhangye – which means open arms – is testament to its bridging connotation at that time.
Scintillating Junction of Deserts and Glaciers
Boundless deserts are a unique and representative tourism resource in northwest China. In order to exploit desert tourism, Zhangye is highlighting its National Desert Sports Park. Located 13 km to the south of the city, it is the desert outdoor activity park closest to an urban area in the entire country. To maximize exploitation of local sightseeing resources, the park has set up five function zones for integrated services, sports sightseeing, desert exploration, and the Gobi experience, as well as the scientific popularization of ecology in order to maintain the original ecosystem. The park also boasts several racetracks, such as a 26-km desert track and short racing track. These tracks have many curves and slopes, placing them among the most advanced and challenging auto rally championship sites in China. Dual-lane design imparts to them full ornamental value, and makes for a perfect platform for racing fans at home and abroad to appreciate the local landscape while experiencing the thrilling driving.
The towering Qilian Mountains and their pure white snowy peaks stand in sharp contrast to the desert. The magnificent Qilian Mountains not only furnish the Hexi area with abundant melt water, but also create a rare glacier tourism resource. Three glaciers can now be reached directly from Zhangye, including the renowned Qiyi and Bayi glaciers and the Bailanghe Glacier No.21, which was only discovered in 2013 and lies just 100 km distant from the city. The sublime grandeur of these glaciers is greatly moving.
Where deserts meet glaciers, Zhangye always offers pleasant surprises. These two contrasting natural landscapes are ideal for sports enthusiasts. Nowadays, thanks to the promotion of outdoor
activities, the number of people who participate in outdoor sports in Zhangye is increasing by 30 percent annually. Via marketing and specialized operations, the city boasts a number of sports events, such as a mountainous-outdoor sports challenge, a hiking race, and a car rally championship, in addition to snow sports. Visitors can better understand the city by experiencing its ambient natural wonders of deserts, glaciers and wetlands.
Flame-Red Danxia Landform
If Zhangye is likened to a gorgeous woman, then Danxia is the red make-up best accentuating her unrivalled beauty. This kind of landform is widely distributed in Zhangye, and presents a typical example of China’s colorful Danxia, acclaimed as one of the top 10 geological wonders in the world. Covering an area of 529 square kilometers, the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is a national AAAA scenic spot, and a prospect from which to view the integrated landscapes of the Danxia landform and its polychrome hills.
Danxia here is beautifully-hued and exerts a tremendous impact. Sunset is the best time to admire the landform. The setting sun seems to be infatuated with the color crimson, as its dusk glow elaborately dapples the red and gray-white rocks. Serried hills zigzag to the horizon. Gilded rocks rear, flaming across the vast landscape to contend in beauty and fascination with the splendid dusk clouds. The amazing, gorgeous reds stippling the mountains are breathtaking and stir the emotions. Boundless heaven and earth form a huge palette, and visitors also become vivid embellishments to this painting.
At an elevation of 1,820 meters, the “Colorful Immortal Hill” is the park’s core attraction. The entire massif looks like a flat dais, whose fractured surfaces mix with vibrant shades of red, yellow, orange, white and gray. Distinctly colored rock strata intricately inlay the mountains. In sunshine, each stratum gives off brilliant rays, presenting a scene like colorful clouds. As the park’s most emblematic landscape, well-known both at home and abroad, the view can be found on admission tickets and in many brochures.
Danxia is a paradise for shutterbugs not just for its abundance of colors, but also its surprisingly beautiful landform which gives free rein to the imagination. For example, a crag on a mountain ridge looks like a monkey squatting, with a dark red and low hilltop in front. It is called the “monkey viewing a sea of fire” by famous geographer Huang Jin, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University. In addition, there are many fantastic landscapes, which resemble galloping elephants, nymphs and camel bells. The scenery of the landform shifts as one moves, displaying various views and offering a unique sightseeing experience.
Yanzhi Mountain is a legendary place of romance. An outlier of the Qilian Mountains, it rises in the southeast of Shandan County. The main peak, Baihualing, is 3,978 meters above sea level. The name Yanzhi derives from a quaint legend. The mountain was originally called “Rouge Mountain” because it abounds in a flower whose juice looks just like rouge (yanzhi in Chinese, which though homophonous, is written with different characters in the modern name). Local women use it as a natural cosmetic, hence the name. The name fits: the elegant and pleasant mountain has luxuriant vegetation, and is known as “Little Yellow Mountain” in the Hexi Corridor.
The mountain has enjoyed great fame since ancient times. As early as the Spring and Autumn period, this eminence was a native pasture with flourishing plants. Nomadic peoples such as the Di, Qiang and Xiongnu formerly lived here. In 609, Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty came here on an inspection tour and summoned envoys from 27 khanates.
A panoramic view reveals that dense, verdant, virgin forest mantles the entire massif. Yanzhi Mountain National Forest Park, situated 50 km to the southwest of the county town of Shandan, has been well developed. Travelers can drive up its slopes on a winding road, where ancient pines line the way. A delicate boardwalk awaits visitors at road’s end. Walking along it, one can appreciate the beauty of high mountains. The sudden appearance of small wild animals adds animation to this quiet mountain forest.
Rambling here, the enjoyment of whistling winds and whispering waters scatters work fatigue and urban noise to the winds. Gazing into the distance, white clouds, green hills and the blue sky magnify one another’s beauty, offering visitors a leisurely, comfortable stay.
Zhangye is an amazing city boasting green mountains and rivers, vast deserts, tender grasslands, wetlands, and beautiful Danxia landforms, as well as the magnificent Qilian Mountains. As a natural wonder, the city is a paradise for travelers from all over the world.
Zhangye is an amazing city boasting green mountains and rivers, vast deserts, tender grasslands, wetlands, and beautiful Danxia landforms, as well as the magnificent Qilian Mountains.
The Yanzhishan National Forest Park.
Zhangye Urban Wetland Museum. Ruins of the Great Wall built in the Han Dynasty.
Oases along the Hexi Corridor originate in melt waters from the Qilian Mountains.
The largest and most typical of China’s arid regions, Zhangye’s Danxia landform draws large numbers of both scientists and tourists.