As a daughter valley northof Hailuogou (Hailuo Valley), Yanzigou (Yanzi Valley) is located 200 kilometers (130 miles) southwest of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, western Central China, in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Area. The elevation of Yanzigou stretches upwards from 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) to 7,556 meters (24,790 feet), the highest peak of Gongga Mountain. Yanzigou is still a place where few people visit. All scenery in the valley is original and natural. The unique red stone gullies and the stones make a fantastic landscape. The wide range of colorful trees is the feature of autumn. Yanzigou is a famous mountain climbing route for international climbers. Most climbers of Gongga Mountain will camp there.
Yanzigou has a total length of 30 kilometers (19 miles), and the area for the whole scenic area is about 10 sq km (4 sq mi). The region has an annual rainfall of 1,200 mm (47 in), and the average July temperature is 19˚C (66˚F) at 2,000 m (6,600 ft), but only 5˚C (41˚F) at 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Yanzigou is a mysterious valley yet to be discovered by people. The low-altitude glaciers , the forest, the mountain peaks, the hot and cold springs, rare plants and animals and the natural ecological scenery together form the unique charm of Yanzigou Scenic Area.
There are 15 mountain peaks which are higher than 5,000 meters (16,000 feet). There are some magnificent cliffs and weird rocks and mountains peaks. For example, Bamboo Shoot Peak, located near Herb King Temple, points straight up to the sky like a huge bamboo shoot. Four slender rocks along Herb Valley stand upright like the four pilgrims walking on their journey to India for Buddhist scriptures in the book "Journey to the West". Some other rocks have the shapes of animals like rhinoceroses and bulls.
The essence of Yanzigou Scenic Resort is the Red Rock Beach, which is the largest one in Asia. The rocks are covered by some kind of red microorganism, which grows under the unique ecological environment of high mountains (scientists have taken the rocks to other places, but the red moss disappeared). It has formed a special landscape.
Yanzigou Travel Tips
- Getting there: It requires a 340-km (210-mi) road journey from Chengdu via Ya’an City and Luding Town, followed by walking or horse riding. You can take a rest in Moxi Town or Xinxing Town of Kangding County before entering the valley. There is no hotel there, so you can only live in the homes of the locals. Before entering Yanzigou, you must prepare enough dried food (and horses). Hiring a horse keeper/ local guide is recommended. This is important, because a local guide will know about Yanzigou. A guide can answer your questions, show you the way and help you with horses and your bags.
- Horse hire: 80–120 yuan per day, including a horse keeper, but you need to feed the horse keeper. You can bring some local alcohol for him so that he can keep himself warmed and in good spirits. You may spend a long time riding a horse, so you need to follow the instructions of the horse keeper. It is advised to ride for some distance, and then walk for some distance, so that you may avoid muscle stiffness.
- There is only 4 km (2.5 mi) of road leading into Yanzigou. The rest is wild tracks. Cell phone signals may be out of range.
- Gear you need to carry: tent, sleeping bag, roll mat/Therm-A-Rest, dried food, flash light and lighters, warm clothes, (altitude) medicine and cooking gear like liquefied gas, stove and bowls.