Wulingyuan Scenic Area

Written by Vivian Updated Aug. 27, 2021
Wulingyuan Scenic Area

Wulingyuan Scenic Area

Wulingyuan is a large area containing four national parks: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, and Yangjiajie Scenic Area. Wulingyuan Scenic Area also included Wulingyuan town, a small village with accommodation and amenities, that connects to other parts of the park system.

Wulingyuan has over 500 sites/attractions and covers about 690 square kilometers (266 square miles). The area is famous for its steep sandstone karsts; thin pillar-like mountains that just out hundreds of meters from the land below. The landscape here was the inspiration for the floating mountains of Pandora in the movie Avatar.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area Facts

Are Wulingyuan and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park the Same?

Not exactly. Wulingyuan Scenic Area is one massive area that includes Zhangjiajie Forest Park. The whole area is known for its mystical beauty and alienesque landscape, but Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is just one of the many national park areas within Wulingyuan.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area Map Wulingyuan Scenic Area Map

What to See in Wulingyuan?

1. Avatar Mountain

Avatar Mountain

Avatar Mountain

If you go to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Avatar Mountain should be on your list of must-sees. Hallelujah Mountain (AKA Avatar Mountain) is exemplary of the steep, pillar-like karsts of Zhangjiajie. It is located in the west part of Wulingyuan, in Yuanjiajie.

There are over 3000 peaks of quartz sandstone in this area. The whole landscape is a geological and natural wonderland including:

2. Tianzi Mountain

Tianzi Mountain

Tianzi Mountain

Tianzi Mountain is in the north part of Wulingyuan. It is famous for its 3 scenes:

1) The Sea of clouds: During certain times of the year the cloudy weather that the whole area is famous for looks like a picture of heaven. Visitors can see rocky peaks jutting out from an ocean of clouds below.

2) Sunrise over the peaks: As the sun comes up each day, the sharp peaks cast long shadows across the land. It’s a sight unlike any other in the world.

3) Winter snow: During the coldest winter months, there is often snow. Riding the Tianzi Mountain Cable Car over the snow lands below is beautiful, and a truly amazing experience.

3. Bailong Elevator

Bailong Elevator

Bailong Elevator

Taking the prize as the largest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world, Bailong Elevator, or 100 Dragon Elevator, occupies the side of a tall cliff in Wulingyuan. The elevator is a feat of engineering, capable of transporting 64 passengers at one time, and 4000 in an hour, traveling at 5 meters per second. As it goes up, visitors get a breathtaking view of the valley below.

Bailong Elevator is located just west of Hallelujah mountain, and southeast of the 10-Mile Natural Gallery.

4. Yuanjiajie

Yuanjiajie: Fields in the Air

Fields in the Air

Yuanjiajie is the specific place in Wulingyuan where the Bailong lift and Hallelujah Mountain are located. The landscape is in the south part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area and is composed of karsts, valleys, and it is known for its misty scenes.

There are several other sites that are worth visiting in Yuanjiajie:

5. Yellow Stone Village

Yellow Stone Village

Yellow Stone Village

Karsts, jungle, and wild monkeys along the trails can all be found in Yellow Stone Village (or Huangshi Fort). Visitors can marvel at the pine trees, seemingly impossibly growing on the tops of mountains and out of cliff faces. It is characterized by its bare cliff faces, steep rocky karsts, and great hiking.

The stone village is located in the southwest part of Wulingyuan, south of Yuanjiajie.

How Was Wulingyuan Formed?

Wulingyuan Karst Landscape

Wulingyuan Karst Landscape

Wulingyuan, and its surroundings are a karst landscape. Karsts are hard rocky bodies, usually the size and shape of small hills/mountains, but sometimes, they are steep pillars like in the Zhangjiajie area.

Karst landscapes are formed over hundreds of millions of years. Formation occurs as continental plates are elevated. In the case of Asia, the elevation occurs because the Indian Continental Plate is running into the Eurasian Continental plate. As the Indian plate slides under the Eurasian plate, the Eurasian plate rises up.

As the continental plate rises up, the softer earth erodes. Karsts occur in tropical and monsoon climates because of this erosion. As the sediment and lose earth flows downhill, the gigantic hard rocks that were once beneath the surface become exposed. The massive rocks stick out of the ground like pillars or mountains, and they become karsts.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit

Wulingyuan in late October

Wulingyuan in late October

The best time to visit Wulingyuan is when the weather is good, but the tourists are low. Mid-late October is a great time, as the weather is drier than usual and tourist numbers are lower.

Try to avoid Labor Day Holiday (May 1-5) and National Day Holiday (October 1-8). During these holidays, the park is thronged by tourists. Additionally, it’s good to avoid the summer holidays, as many people have breaks from work and school, so entire families line the trails, and the park is so crowded that the summer is often called “shoulder season.”

What to Wear

Obviously, this depends on the season you go. In the winter and fall, bring some layers, it gets freezing cold atop the peaks. In the summer, bring plenty of water, sun protection, and light clothes. It’s a good idea to bring a rain jacket and good hiking/walking shoes just about any time of the year.

Places to Visit Nearby

Zhangjaijie Attractions Map

1) Baofeng Lake is a scenic lake amid the canyons and karsts. It is a cool and relaxing visit during the summer. There are many kilometers of hiking trails around it as well.

2) Yellow Dragon Cave is a long, enormous cave southeast of Wulingyuan. Visiting the cave includes an underground boat ride. The cave is large enough that visitors can stand up straight the entire time they are traversing the cavern.

3) Tianmen Mountain and the archway that leads up to it are iconic sites in Zhangjiajie. The name of the mountain and natural arch “Tianmen,” literally means “Heaven’s gate.” The archway is usually misty, and clouds floating through the 135-meter-high arch make an unforgettable view.

4) Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, the longest, highest, glass bridge in the world is north of Wulingyuan. You can get there by taking a bus for about 10 minutes from Wulingyuan.

Where to Stay?

Zhangjiajie Hotel

Zhangjiajie Hotel

There are hotels in Zhangjiajie city and Wulingyuan. Where you stay depends on your trip specifics, and what kind of experience you are looking for. The Wulingyuan hotels are more scenic and rustic, while the Zhangjiajie hotels vary widely in price and quality. Because Zhangjiajie city has more hotels, the prices are lower in general as well.
Recommended Hotels:

See more details for Zhangjiajie Hotels: Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie?

How to Get from Zhangjiajie to Wulingyuan?

From the Airport

Zhangjiajie Airport

Zhangjiajie Airport

Take bus number 4 or a taxi to Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station. The bus from there will take you to Wulingyuan Bus Station. A taxi from the Airport to Wulingyuan will take about 30 minutes and cost around 80 CNY.

From Downtown

From downtown Zhangjiajie, get to the Central Bus Station, where there are many buses to Wulingyuan Bus Station. The bus to Wulingyuan operates between 06:30 and 17:30, and departs every 15 minutes. It costs 12 CNY, and takes about 40-50 minutes to arrive at its destination.

Visit Wulingyuan With Us

our customer in Zhangjiajie

Exploring Zhangjiajie

We can do extremely unique tours as well as more classic 4-day trips in Zhangjiajie; our English-speaking local guides, who spend over 200 days each year exploring Wulingyuan, will lead you to off-the-beaten paths, making your trip a deeper experience and go smoother.

Have a look at our sample Zhangjiajie travel itineraries and feel free to let us know your tour ideas!

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