Zhangye Rainbow Danxia Landform
The rainbow is a common natural phenomenon, but people still fancy it because it vanishes quickly. But there's another rainbow that lasts much longer and are also loved by many – Zhangye Danxia, the rainbow hills of China.
How was the Danxia landform in the geopark formed?
Zhangye Danxia landform's geomorphic development happened in about Jurassic period. It is a result of red sandstone erosion, together with its geological structure and long-term desert conditions, wind and water erosion. During the mid-Cretaceous age, iron and other elements contained in the sediment started to exchange and oxidize, which formed different layers of colours in different strata.
The ferruginous rocks are red, the argillaceous rocks are grey, the phosphatic rocks are greyish-blue, the volcanic rocks are orange-yellow, and the pebbly rocks are cyan. All of the colours are intertwined in these magnificent rainbow hills.
In Chines history, Zhangye City is part of the Hexi Corridor, which is an important route for connecting China to the Western world in Gansu Province via the Silk Road.
The first viewing platform is the largest platform and the nearest to the entrance, at 10 minutes’ walk away. You don't need to walk up many steps to get to the viewing platform. It's practically at ground level and you can see the high, colourful mountains.
Use your imagination and you will see shapes in the mountains known as Monks Worshiping the Buddha, the huge “scallops”, Monkeys Rush into the Sea of Fire, and Rainbow Hill.
Second Viewing Platform
There are actually two platforms at this point — one at the base and one at the top of a hill. You only need to walk for a few minutes to get to the base platform but it takes a lot of effort to get to the top. At the base platform, you can see a mountain that’s shaped like a sleeping beauty.
The top platform is the highest viewing platform. It has 666 steps, which take about 30 minutes to climb. The wooden path to the top platform is like the Great Wall winding along the ridge. At the top, you can take a photo of the panoramic view. It's also a good place to enjoy the sunset.
Third Viewing Platform
The third viewing platform allows a view of the famous 'Seven-Color Fan'. The mountain looks like it has been painted with a colourful palette. The huge rolling hills look very soothing with their pastel colours.
Fourth Viewing Platform
The fourth viewing platform has the most stunning view. It is on a ridge that runs from east to west. Standing on the ridge and looking south, you can feast your eyes on the variegated colours of Qicai Shan (Seven-Color Mountain).
Marco Polo spent a year here around 1274 and wrote in his book "The Travels of Marco Polo" that this region was an international trade market. Nowadays, it has turned into a tourism city that attracts many people. June and July each year are the best months to visit Zhangye National Geopark. During the rainy season, the water can cool you from the summer heat and add moisture to the air.
It is best to visit in the morning and at dusk, especially at sunset, when the colours change continuously, showing yellow and red layers covered by a light grey layer.
Approximate sunset time: 7:30 pm in spring and autumn; 8:00 pm in summer
How to get there?
The Danxia national park is located close to the city of Zhangye — about 30 minutes west by car, in northwestern China's Gansu Province. Alternatively, you can go to the city bus station first and travel to the park by bus.
The admission fees: 75 RMB/Person
Opening time: 7.00.a.m to 6.30.p.m