The formation of the canyon
The northwestern Yunnan is situated at the juncture of the Eurasian plate and the Indo-Chinese plate. Three rivers and three mountains dissect the grand longitudinal valley of Hengduan Mountain and form the grand Nujiang Canyon. From north to south, they are Biluo Snow Mountain, Nujiang (Salween) River, Gaoligong Mountain, Lancang River, Dandanglika Mountain and Dulong River.
Nujiang River rises at the southern foot of T’angku-la Mountains in Tibet. The upper branch is called Naqu (literally black water river) in Tibetan language. The river enters Yunnan in Gongshan County and is flanked on the west by Gaoligong Mountain and on the east by Biluo Snow Mountain. The highest peak in the Gaoligong Mountain is 4,640 meters high and the Lujiang Plain is only 600 meters high. Therefore, Nujiang Canyon, with an average elevation range of more than 2,000 meters, is called the "first canyon in the East".
Nujiang Canyon boasts its special landforms, the biodiversity and the abundant folk customs. Nujiang Canyon is known as a "world species and gene bank", a "geology and landform museum", a "living history of social development" and an "ocean of folk songs". Along both sides of the canyon are steep mountains, magnificent flying waterfalls, the thick green primeval forest and the snow-capped mountaintops, and the colorful primitive folk customs, all inspiring adventurers to have interesting travels here.
Comparing with two other great canyons
Firstly, as long as the length of the canyon is concerned, Nujiang Canyon is the longest in the world. The Yunnan section of Nujiang Canyon is 621 km long and 3,000 meters deep, and the United States' Grand Canyon is 440 kms long and 1,830 meters deep. Nujiang Canyon is 212 km longer than the canyon at the turning point of Yalu Tsangpo River. Secondly, as long as the relative elevation range is concerned, Nujiang Canyon is the second in height in the world. The largest elevation range of Nujiang Canyon is 4,500 meter, the elevation range of the Grand Canyon is 1,740 meter, and that of Yalu Tsangpo is 6,000 meters.