Huangguoshu Waterfalls Scenic area is one of the first state-level scenic spots in China. The waterfall cluster is made up of more than 10 above-ground waterfalls, underground waterfalls, and water stone forests at Tianxingqiao Bridge and Tianxing Cave. The Huangguoshu Waterfall, at 74 meters high and 81 meters wide, is the most magnificent one among all the waterfalls.
The waterfall looks best during the months of May through October (the rainy season). In summer, water rises in the river and rushes 700 meters down into the Rhinoceros Pool (Xi Niu Tan), creating a splendid auditory and visual environment of roaring water and karst rock formations in the water fog. During winter and spring, the waterfall extends down along the cliff, still wide and spectacular.
How did the waterfall form?
The development of Huangguoshu Waterfall occurred over a long period of time beginning 10 to 27 million years ago. River water (the river was called Baishuihe River later) on the earth’s surface dripped for years into an underground hole eventually forming a limestone cave. The ceiling of the cave collapsed with increasing water corrosion and pressure; this formed the waterfall and a box-shaped gorge in front.
The Huangguoshu Waterfalls cluster includes several waterfalls: Huangguoshu Waterfall, Doupotang Waterfall, Luositan Waterfall, Yinlianzhui Waterfall, Guanling Waterfall, Spider (zhizhu in Chinese) Cave Waterfall, Lumei Pond Waterfall, Tiansheng Bridge Waterfall and Longmen Flying Waterfall, which is a typical in-cave waterfall.
1. Huangguoshu Waterfalls
The waterfalls are divided into high, average and low volumes. The average volume of water throughout the year is 20 cubic meters per second, for nine to ten months a year. The scene will look different during each period.
In the “high water-volume period”, the flow of water in the waterfall is 1,500 cubic meters per second. Huge water roars down into the pond, sending up water drops as high as 100 meters. In the “average water-volume period”, the waterfall narrows down a little and is dissected into four parts by the protruding rocks on the cliff. The first part has the smallest water volume and extends wide, thus looking graceful and elegant. The second part, with the largest water volume, has the same width both at the top and the bottom, thus looking very grand. The third part has the second largest water volume; it is bigger at the top than at the bottom, looking very magnificent. The forth part is narrower on the top than at the bottom, looking very casual and elegant. During the “low water-volume period”, the waterfall spreads down in four parts peacefully, but also very powerfully.
Besides the waterfall, there are two natural wonders. One is the scene of a much smaller waterfall above the main one and the small pond at the foot of the small waterfall. The small waterfall, only 4.5 meters high, and the pond, only 11.1 meters deep, constitute a graceful and harmonious combination in contrast with the thundering big waterfall. The second is the Water-curtain Cave behind the big waterfall. The cave is 134 meters long, with 6 window holes, 5 halls, 3 springs and 6 passages. The cave is 40 meters from the Rhinoceros Pool; the left side is more spacious and has three openings. Tourists can have a special and nice view of the waterfall from behind. It is a spectacular view to watch the rainbow in the mist above the Rhinoceros Pool against the rosy and misted mountain in the setting sun.
The legend about the waterfalls
The waterfall was named after the yellow fruit trees (huangguoshu in Chinese), which are said to have been growing in the place. However, there are not any yellow fruit trees now there.
As the legend goes, when Wusangui was defeated, he threw all his gold and silver treasures into the Rhinoceros Pool. [Wusangui (1612-1678) was an officer at the end of theMing Dynasty (1368-1644). After the downfall of the Ming Dynasty, Wu turned to the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911) and became an officer. He did a lot to wipe out the rest of the the Ming Dynasty forces, including killing emperor Yongli, the last king of theMing Dynasty. In 1622, Wu was appointed as “Pingxi King” by the Qing court (Pingxi means “to stabilize the west). Wu governed Yunnan and Guizhou for more than 30 years and became more and more powerful. In 1673, Wu revolted and waged a war against the Qing Dynasty. He was finally defeated and died in 1678].
Several years later, a poor old couple came and settled down at the place. They planted 100 yellow fruit trees, which only yielded one yellow fruit. One day, an itinerant Taoist priest passed by and happened to see the yellow fruit. He was very pleased and offered the old couple 1,000 liang of silver (liang is a unit of weight, equals to 50 grams) for the fruit and told them again and again not to pick the fruit until 100 days later. Then the Taoist priest set off to fetch the silver. 1000 liang of silver was too great a sum for the old couple to pass up, so they kept the promise and watched the tree for 99 days. On the last night, when they went to bed, they suddenly felt worried. What if some insects or the birds tried to eat the ripe fruit? They were so worried about the fruit; they decided that it was better for them to pick it since it was only several hours before dawn. Then they got up and went to pick the yellow fruit and took it back home.
The second day, the Taoist arrived at dawn. He was so disappointed at what the old couple had done. The old couple was at a loss. They just couldn’t see what had been wrong with the picked fruit. The Taoist then asked them to go to the grand waterfall. When they were standing in front of the Rhinoceros Pool, the Taoist threw the fruit into the pool. The fruit rotated against itself, became bigger and bigger in the water, and finally it sucked out the running waterfall and the deep pool of water. Suddenly, golden lights glittered the valley. When the old couple looked down into the pool, they saw piled numerous gold, silver, agates and other treasures at the bottom. The old couple were very glad, but very soon the yellow fruit burst with a bang. Then the waterfall roared down, and the water spattered around, submerging all the treasures. Everything returned to what it had been, as if nothing had happened.
Up to now, the Taoist told the old couple the secret of the yellow fruit. It was a precious fruit. As long as it grew on the tree for 100 days, it was the key to removing all the treasures at the bottom of the pool. It was now impossible because the fruit had been picked a few hours before the 100th day. Whenever it is sunny, people can see a rainbow above the Rhinoceros Pool, which is said to be the glistening of the treasures under water. To memorialize the magical tree, the place was named Huangguoshu, and the waterfall was named Huanggoshu Waterfalls.
2. Doupotang Waterfalls
The waterfalls are located 1 km on the upper reach of the river from the Huangguoshu Waterfalls. They are 21 meters high, 105 meters wide, which is the widest one of the Huangguoshu waterfalls cluster. At the top of the waterfalls is a huge 15,000 sq. km limestone pool. The waterfalls spread down along the long calc-sinter beach dam. There is also a water-curtain cave behind the waterfall. In summer, people can get into the cave or climb to the calc-sinter beach dam to play with water. It is really an enjoyable experience.
When water floods in summer, the waterfall sounds like train whistles; so, the waterfall is also called the “whistling waterfall”.
3. Luositan Waterfalls
They are located 1 km at lower reach of Huangguoshu Waterfalls. The calcified shoal is 360 meters long and 20 meters wide. They are karst waterfalls, which have developed to the last period. Huashishao, a small stone village is situated west of the waterfalls. The village is famous for the 12 ancient banyan trees with twisted roots and gnarled branches. The waterfalls are also very spectacular in flood season.
4. Yinlianzui Waterfalls
Located in the stone forest area at the Tianxing Bridge Scenic Spot, the waterfalls are only 10-odd meters high. The top of the waterfall is in a filler-shape, while the bottom of the waterfall is a trough-shape limestone pool. Round rocks stand out on the pool, looking like lotus leaves. The river, divided into several parts by the rocks, spreads down like silver chains, dripping into the pool leisurely. Yinlianzui waterfalls are neither the highest nor the widest one in the Huangguoshu waterfalls cluster, but they are definitely the most graceful.
Guanling waterfalls, also called the Dripping (Dishui in Chinese) Waterfalls, are located at the upper branch of the Baling River and 1 km west of Huangguoshu Waterfalls. It is 5 km from the county town of Guanling. They have the largest drop in the Huangguoshu waterfalls cluster, and are made up of 7 steps with the total height being 410 meters. Gaotan Waterfall, the last step, is 63 meters wide and 130 meters high, the highest one in Huangguoshu Waterfalls cluster. Tourists can visit Longquan Temple, which is near the falls. The temple was first built to memorialize Guanyu, the famous general in the Three Kingdoms (220-265) [the Three Kingdoms were Wei (220-265), Shu (221-263), and Wu (222-280), which fought with each other fiercely for more control in China. Guan was a general of the Shu Kingdom, also the sworn brother of the king. He helped the king of the Shu Kingdom a lot in founding the kingdom and protecting it].
6. The Spider (Zhizhu in Chinese) Cave Waterfalls
They are located in the Fanhua River valley, 4 km west of Huangguoshu Waterfalls. On the cliff is a cave, which is 30 meters high. Water spouts out from the huge hole, which is 8 meters in diameter, and howls down, forming the special waterfalls.
7. Lumei Pool Waterfalls
Located at the lower branches of Fanhua River, the waterfalls are 50 meters high and 10 meters wide. What is special about the waterfalls is that they seem to hang over the valley. It is magnificent to have a birds-eye-view of the waterfalls from the top of the mountain nearby.
8. Tiansheng Bridge Waterfalls
The waterfall, 7.2 meters high and 30 meters wide, is located on Baishui River, 300 meters southwest of the stone village. There are two steps in the waterfall, which were named Tiansheng because there is a Tiansheng Bridge on the first step of the waterfalls. (Tiansheng bridge means natural bridge).
9. Guanjiaoling Waterfalls
It is also called the Nadaguan Waterfall becayse it has the largest water flow. The waterfall is divided into three steps, with a total drop of 140 meters and a width of 50 meters. The gorge is 700 meters deep.
10. Longmen Flying Waterfalls
Located in Dragon Palace Scenic Spot, at the upper branch of the Wang’er River, the waterfalls are 38 meters high and 25 meters wide. They are the only waterfalls all in a cave and the largest karst cave waterfalls in China.