West Sea Grand Canyon

Written by Vivian Updated Jul. 6, 2021

The Xihai, or West Sea, Scenic Area offers some of the most beautiful, most enthralling landscapes on Yellow Mountain.

Covering some of Yellow Mountain's best scenery, the V-shaped West Sea Grand Canyon tour presents visitors with some spectacular, if not quite literally breathtaking, panoramas, as well as views of a number of unique and bizarrely shaped rock formations with imaginative nicknames.


Walking along the West Sea Grand Canyon, you’ll marvel at the uncanny workmanship of nature and the adventurous spirit of mankind.

1. Fairy Walking Bridge

The Fairy Walking Bridge (步仙桥) of Huangshan was built in 1988. A small arched bridge hangs between two cliffs, under which is an abyss, dangerous and full of fun.

Fairy Walking Bridge connects the Dreamlike Scenic Area with the Tianhai and Baiyun scenic areas. One way leads to the West Gate of Huangshan and the other to the Heavenly Sea. As a landmark of the trip around the valley, it is a must for many adventurers.

2. Hiking

The two entrances/exits of the West Sea Grand Canyon tour are the Walking Fairyland Bridge in the south and the Cloud-Dispelling Pavilion in the north. These are at 1320 m and 1430 m above sea level, respectively, while the canyon floor of Tianhai is at 600 m above sea level.

Beginning at either of the two entrances, the visitor must cover a distance of about 9½ km in all – a hike of about 4 hours – to complete the "V" of the West Sea Grand Canyon tour.

For example, a complete tour beginning at Cloud-Dispelling Pavilion involves a 4½ km hike to Walking Fairyland Bridge, where one has a spectacular view of the canyon; and then on to the canyon floor itself at Tianhai (Haixin Pavilion), which corresponds, roughly, to the "bottom" point of the tour's "V".

As this involves a fairly sharp descent, the surrounding cliffs and peaks appear to extend higher and higher. Majestically tall – and verdant, due to the ideal climatic conditions – pine trees are to be seen everywhere, some so old that the local people have lovingly given them their own names.

3. Landscape

The scenery changes as one proceeds along this route, which, in some places, is alongside a sheer drop, though separated by a safety barrier. From the bottom of the canyon floor, one proceeds back along the other leg of the "V" towards the exit at the White Cloud Area. (Alternatively, one can take the reverse route.)

The complete, entrance-to-exit West Sea Grand Canyon tour is a demanding hike that is decidedly not for the frail or faint of heart.

For those who require a less rigorous hike, an easier option would be to follow only a portion of the route from either entrance and then return to that entry point along the same route.

All things considered, the visitor should definitely follow some portion of the hike, as it will reveal stunning imagery that remains etched in one’s memory for a lifetime.

4. The Vertical Cliff

There is a saying, "If you see the five great mountains of China you don't have to bother seeing any other mountains. But if you see Huangshan, you don't have to see the other great mountains of China".

This canyon is astoundingly spectacular. In places, it is a vertical cliff, and the staircase builders have stuck staircases to the cliff faces.

The staircases are dauntingly steep to most visitors, especially if visitors have vertigo. There are precipitous drops if you look over the side.

The weather can hardly be predicted and is often a big unknown. Mist and rain are more typical than clear skies, because of the high altitude. There are canyons and spires, and the scenery is so spectacular it can simply be visual overload.

The staircases descend giddily towards the bottom of the canyon - and then there's the climb back up when visitors can see gnarly pine trees and vegetation clinging to the rocks. With the cool weather and plenty of rest spots though, the vertical cliffs are definitely among the top attractions on the mountain!

5. Rail Cable Car

From Stone-Bed Peak to the bottom of the valley, the rail cable car of West Sea Grand Canyon is 892 meters (2927 feet) long, with a height difference of 497 meters (1631 feet) and a capacity of about 60 people.

Things You Should Know

1. The entry fee for the West Sea Grand Canyon is included in the ticket for Huangshan, so there is no need to buy additional tickets.

2. Before entering the canyon, make sure you’re in good physical shape and be prepared with plasters, band-aids, etc.

3. Bring some food and drinking water.

4. It takes 5-6 hours to cross the canyon. There is only one service station near the bottom of the valley, to provide some simple food supplies.

5. Never try to cross the West Sea Grand Canyon in winter. For safety reasons, it is closed from December 1st to the end of March.

6. Many stone paths in the canyon are built artificially on the cliffs, so tourists with fear of heights, high blood pressure, or heart disease are not advised to go.

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