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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Nov. 26, 2013: Zhangjiajie National Park, China

Hua's first picture

Nested in the northern Hunan Province of mainland China is the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  The park is well known for its stunning eroded mountain pinnacles that are simply breathtaking! This park is part of the the Wulingyan Scenic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Because these mountains were formed by many years of geological erosion, underground are miles and miles of caves which we’ll discuss here in a future Pic of the Day. 


The view points for the Forest Park are reached by a precarious, winding road (see first photo below).  Electric buses zoom past each other around countless hairpin turns, transporting visitors to the top.  At the top, you are rewarded with this impressive sight you'll see in the second photo.  This is known as Tianmen Mountain and the huge arch is called the "Heavenly Gate."  If you're up for it, you can climb the 999 steps to reach Heaven!  After huffing and puffing my way up all 999 steps with my wife and kids, we got a close-up look at the huge stone arch and were awarded with a certificate congratulating us on making it up to the top.  After a short break to catch our breaths, we started the journey back down all 999 steps, which by the way seemed way steeper on the way down...


The natural scenery in Zhangjiajie is truly unparalleled.  Everywhere you turn, you see majestic, impossibly shaped mountains.  Looking around at this mysterious scenery it almost feels as if you've stepped into another world.  Of particular interest is the towering pillar of quartz-sandstone you see highlighted above.  Shaped by years of erosion, this mountain juts up towards the sky and is topped by a small section of lush forest.  When the mist rolls in, the mountain looks as if it's floating and this served as the inspiration for the floating mountains in the movie "Avatar".  Accordingly, this peak has been named "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain". 


A truly memorable place!



Images (4)
  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: A soaring pillar of eroded limestone, inspirational to the makers of the film 'Avatar'
  • Road to Zhangjiajie National  Forest Park: Electric buses take tourists up this steep hill, with sharp hair-pin turns
  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  Tianmen Mountain, known as "Heaven's Gate": 999 steps take you to the top, if you can make it!
  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: Dramatic eroded pinnacles with in a lush forested setting

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