The Zhangye Danxia Landform, China is a visual treat for your eyes. Upon visiting this place, you will be awestruck by its colorful rock formations.
You may have come across mountains and noticed that they are just plain and of the same color. However, you cannot expect the same with the Zhangye Danxia Landform as it is simply a sensational work of nature.
If you have not heard of this place, and want to know more about China’s rainbow mountains, let us head over and discover everything about this geological wonder of the world.
1. Location of the Zhangye Danxia Landform
The Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is also called Zhangye Danxia Geopark. You can find this spectacular place in the Gansu province of China, in the northern foothills of the Qilian mountains.
This national park occupies 124 square miles of area. Famous for its colorful rock formations, the Zhangye Danxia National Park was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
The inscribed site comprises regions (six) discovered in the subtropical zone present in Southwest China.
2. The Landscape of the Zhangye National Geopark
The Zhangye Danxia is famous due to its unusual colors of rock formations. The texture of these rocks is smooth, sharp, and very tall too.
These rock formations came into existence due to the accumulation of sandstones and other minerals. The output resembles a layer cake and is linked to the operation of the tectonic plates responsible for the formation of a portion of the Himalayan Mountains.
Three factors – Wind, rain, and time sculpted extraordinary shapes namely pillars, and towers of different colors, different patterns, and also sizes.
3. Features of the Zhangye Danxia Landform
The Danxia landform comprises numerous spectacular red cliffs. Of these, the majority of them are at a height of several hundred meters and are also multicolored ridges of weathered strata that occasionally stretch to the horizon.
The main feature of the Danxia landform is the presence of numerous multicolored red rocky outcrops that are identical to the shapes of a castle, tower, birds, and even humans.
The peaks of the Danxia landforms peek through the mist and clouds and create an optical illusion of the landscape of spectacular mountains and pavilions.
4. Danxia Topography
The Zhangye Danxia landscapes developed due to the disintegration of red sandstone and formed isolated peaks.
The combination of the geological structure, freeze-thaw peeling, everlasting desert conditions, and finally, wind and water erosion gave rise to the Zhangye Danxia’s present appearance contains attractive colorful layers.
Also, the sequence of variations in density and erosion structured towering peaks, stone halls, and also cave holes. The Zhangye Danxia Landform is also called the Rainbow mountains. Their lovely colors were what acquired them this name.
Now, let us see how these beautiful Rainbow mountains formed.
5. More Details About the Formation of the Rainbow Mountains
The Rainbow Mountains found their place in China even before the formation of the Himalayan Mountains. These are the cretaceous sandstones and siltstones that were accumulated in China.
The sand and silt contained iron and trace minerals. They catered to the primary components for the formation of the colors you witness. Also, millions of years ago, this area was formerly a part of the ocean.
5.1. What Took Place Further?
A tectonic plate collision resulted in the folding of land, and the formation of mountains, and it raised above sea level. Red sandstone was accumulated when there was the formation of rivers in the region.
The movement of precipitated groundwater via the sandstone grains enables the depositing of the trace minerals in the middle of the grains. This precipitate will build high enough that the pore space ceases to exist between the individual grains binding them in place.
This process gives the trace minerals their appearance and provides the sandstones with their otherworldly coloring.
6. What is the Major Color in the Rainbow Mountains?
Deep red sandstone is the main color. This red color is because of the presence of an iron oxide coating as well as cementation in the middle of the sandstone grains.
Iron oxide is distinguished by its dark red coloring, and is produced when weathering oxidizes elemental iron with water and oxygen.
The most amazing feature of the Rainbow Mountains is the iron oxide smudging of its sandstone Danxia formation.
7. How do the Oxides Form Varying Colours?
Iron oxides render only a dark red pigment majority of the time. However, in some scenarios, oxides form varying colors too.
Take the case of oxidized limonite. It will generate brown or yellow smudging of the sandstones.
When the sandstones are smudged black, magnetite formation is the result. In case, you want a metallic yellow color, iron sulfide should be present, where sulfur is responsible for imparting this color.
7.1. What are the Other Colors?
If you want green color, ensure the presence of chlorite or iron silicate clays.
You can try to find red rocks outside, and guess what? Congratulations if you spot them, you have just discovered an iron oxide smudged sandstone.
8. Scenic Area Present in the Zhangye Danxia Landform
The first scenic or core area is the Linze Danxia scenic area. You can find it situated west of downtown Zhangye and some kilometers to the south of Linze county.
This area is well-developed and has frequent visitors.
8.1. Second Scenic Area
Binggou is the second scenic area situated on the North Bank of the Liyuan River. Binggou’s elevation ranges are above sea level.
8.2. Third Scenic Area
The third scenic area is referred to as the Sunan Danxia scenic area. You can find this third area situated in Ganjun which can be found to the south of Linze.
9. Sightseeing Platforms in the Zhangye Danxia Landform
When you visit Zhangye Danxia, you get to view the beautiful landforms from these tall sightseeing platforms. The enjoyment doesn’t stop here, as you can even go on a hike from one sightseeing platform to the next.
Let us get to know them individually.
9.1. The First Sightseeing Platform
Get to know this largest platform which is present closer to the entrance. This is also an apt place to get an amazing view of the Zhangye Danxia Landform.
You get to view the colorful mountains, along with their shapes resembling a giant scallop, statues of Buddha seated together, and the Rainbow hill.
9.2. The Second Sightseeing Platform
You can find two platforms here. One is situated at the bottom of the hill, and the other is at the top of the hill. Also, you can find it easy to visit the one at the bottom but not at the top.
You can find a mountain with its shape resembling a sleeping beauty during your visit to the bottom platform.
Speaking of the top platform is the highest platform. You will love the beautiful sunset from this spot.
9.3. The Third Sightseeing Platform
What can you expect here? Here, you get to enjoy viewing the famous Seven color fan. The mountain here appears as if a colorful palette has been used for painting it. You will get to enjoy a pleasant feeling due to their pastel colors.
9.4. The Fourth Sightseeing Platform
When you reach this platform, you can find that this is the most beautiful platform. This is situated on a ridge, and when you stand on this ridge, you will be mesmerized by the gorgeous colors of the Rainbow Mountains.
You can also take spectacular photos of either the sunrise or the sunset.
9.5. The Fifth Sightseeing Platform
Here also, you get to enjoy viewing the colorful mountain. If you walk a short distance from this spot, you explore a building with an ancient style called the Mazi Noodle shop.
10. Best Place to Take Spectacular Photos
Are you an Instagram freak, and love to post your photos of the Rainbow Mountains? Then, head over to the sightseeing platforms which quench your photographic thirst.
Your photos will be awesome when you take a click during the fine weather. The best time is to click photographs during the sunset and sunrise. Enjoy taking selfies too.
11. Ways to Reach the China Danxia Landform
You can reach the Zhangye Danxia Landform by air or even by train. If you wish to travel by air, Lanzhou, Xi’an, Dunhuang, and Urumqi contain straight flights to the Zhangye Ganzhou Airport.
You can avail of a taxi from the airport to the Zhangye Danxia National Park.
If you wish to travel by train, there are direct trains to Zhangye from Beijing, Chongqing, and also Xi’an.
11.1. High-Speed Train
You can find high-speed train services in Xi’an. On the way, if you wish to explore the Silk road, you can halt in Lanzhou.
You need not worry even if you make a stop here, as you can find several trains operated from Lanzhou to Zhangye.
In case, you want to avoid public transportation and want hassle-free travel, you can always opt for private cars.
What Did the Chinese Media Outlets Call These Rainbow Mountains?
China’s Rainbow Mountains were termed the most beautiful landforms.
Are Flora and Fauna Present in the Zhangye National Geopark?
Yes, the rugged landscapes helped conserve the subtropical forests resulting in flora and fauna finding their home here.
The Zhangye Danxia Landform is one of the hotspots thronged by tourists. The colorful rock formation of the Rainbow Mountains is like viewing heaven on earth.
When you visit Zhangye, never forget to visit this natural wonder – the Rainbow Mountains.