China has thousands of National Parks, including nature reserves, geologic parks scenic spots and more categories. In total, there are 225 national parks within China, are you surprised by the number? We both know that a national park must possess historical or scenic importance, can you expect spectacular scenery and landscapes, cultural sites, and rare plant and wildlife. If you are planning a trip to China, it absolutely should be on your list of things to see. Here is a list of some amazing parks to visit in China.
Shilin National Park (Stone Forest)
Credit: Kent Wang
The Shilin Stone Forest is a strange landscape made up of weird limestone formations that dwarf humans and seem to grow out of the earth. In the Shilin Autonomous County in Yunnan Province in southern China, the stones that make up the forest have eroded over 270 million years until taking the form they do today. The Shilin Stone Forest forms part of the wider South China Karst UNESCO World Heritage Site and is made up of caves, lakes, waterfalls, and several stone forests, including the Greater and Lesser, and the Naigu. It’s an especially important site for the minority Yi people, who celebrate a festival here each year and believe one of the great stone columns was once a girl, forbidden to marry her lover, who came here and turned herself to stone forever.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
In 1982, Zhangjiajie became the first National Forest Park in China. It’s now also a UNESCO Global Geopark and is part of the larger Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Area World Heritage Site. In Hunan Province in central China, Zhangjiajie and the wider Wulingyuan area are famed for the three thousand sandstone pillars that dominate the landscape. In between them are gorges, ravines, waterfalls and streams. The sandstone columns were formed by the expansion of ice within the rock and plant roots slowly burrowing into the surface, causing the rock to disintegrate slowly over millions of years.
Jiuzhai Valley National Park
Jiuzhaigou is made up of the Rize, Zechawa and Shezung Valleys and spreads over 72,000 hectares in Sichuan Province in western China. Its name means ‘Valley of the Nine Fortified Villages,’ with seven of the historical sites still inhabited today. Jiuzhaigou was barely known to outsiders until the 1970s and is now not only a National Park but has protected status as a unique biosphere from UNESCO. Jiuzhaigou is home to countless rare species of plants and animals like the giant panda, red panda, Sichuan takin and the snub-nosed monkey. Its terrain is made up of mountains, ancient woodlands and the beautiful turquoise lakes known to locals as ‘haizi,’ so clear that the lake bottom can easily be seen.
Huangshan National Park
Huangshan National Park is surrounded by myths of ancient immortals and is home to the beautiful Yellow Mountains that feature unique geomorphology. Mount Huangshan has been a hugely important cultural site since the days of the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century. Legend says that the elixir of immortality could be found at the top of the mountain. Over the centuries, the area attracted poets, hermits and artists, especially the landscape painters of the Shanshui School during the Ming Dynasty of the 16th century. In Anhui Province in central China, Mount Huangshan is made up of granite peaks, hot springs, pine forests, and a sea of clouds that sits just below the peaks through much of the year. In all, there are 15,400 hectares of protected park full of rare creatures like the greater spotted eagle, the gray wolf and the Asiatic wild dog.
Guilin and Lijiang River National Park
The Lijiang River Scenic Zone in Guangxi Province in southern China covers the 116 kilometers from Guilin along the Lijiang River to Yangshuo. The area has been recognized for its natural beauty at least since the Song Dynasty of the 10th century. Along the banks of the river are huge pinnacles and rock columns, karst caves and forests. Cruise boats take visitors along the course of the Lijiang every day, which is a major tourist attraction within China. The main sites along the course of the river are the huge Reed Flute Cave, the thousands of carvings made in the rocks that line the river, and the Lingqu Canal built by the Qin Dynasty in the 3rd century BC, which remains the oldest canal in the world still operating.
Article source: theculturetrip.com