The Rainbow Mountains Of China – Zhangye Danxia

Zhangye Danxia

A natural wonder of the world is China’s Rainbow Mountains, which are part of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park. These well-known Chinese mountains are distinguished by their unearthly hues, which resemble a rainbow painted over the rounded slopes. The 200 square mile Zhangye Danxia National Park is situated in northwest China’s Gansu province. Many Chinese and foreign tourists visit the site designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Tourists love Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, which has frequently been ranked as one of the “most beautiful” locations in both China and the entire world. It is situated in the Qilian Mountains’ foothills. The national park spans 124 square kilometers of land (322 sq km). The spectacular display of colors across hills and rock formations is what makes the national park, which was once known as Zhangye Danxia Geopark, so well-known. The Chinese media named the area one of China’s most breathtaking landscapes.

How They Were Formed?


The rocky outcrops and undulating hills nearly appear painted. The scenery is fantastical. It’s safe to argue that Zhangye National Geopark is the world’s most vibrant national park.

Sandstone and minerals were placed on top of one another throughout time, and as tectonic plates shifted, slanted painted layers appeared on the rock formations and sandstone rolling hills. This is how the colorful landscapes were produced. The granite formations and undulating hills have been further sculpted by rain, wind, and time into a variety of displays of pillars and ravines. Together, tectonic plates and erosion have produced magnificent patterns that may be seen by everyone.

On The Inner Mongolian Border

Only the southeast, southwest, and northwest of China are home to the Danxia landforms. The Zhangye Danxia is a portion of the Qilian Mountain Range, which practically touches Mongolian borders, and is located 1,700 kilometers from Beijing and 30 kilometers from the city of Zhangye. Its bizarre crimson valleys feature cliffs, jagged pillars, gorges, and organic pyramids.

Naturally, the word “Danxia” translates to “rosy cloud.” The extraordinary phenomenon is caused by two mechanisms. First, it was purportedly constructed during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, when arid deserts underwent extensive weathering. The more intricate layering beneath the granite was revealed by weathering, which removed the rock.

An Artist’s Palette Of Oxides

Due to the existence of different oxides, the vivid red, brown, yellow, and green sandstones that fold over one another may be seen. Iron oxide, yellow iron sulfide, green chlorite, and brown oxidized limonite are all found in red sandstone. The minerals in the groundwater, which have seeped into the sandstone grains and cemented, react with these chemical compounds. The Danxia is stained and the landscape is painted with multicolored brushstrokes, resembling a painting, thanks to the trace minerals carried by this water.

The Rainbow Mountains of Peru, the Spectrum Range of British Columbia, and the Rainbow Range in the United States are only a few of the colorful geological formations in the world besides China’s native Danxia landform. One of China’s most stunning places, Zhangye Danxia was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Red Rocks And Rainbow Ridges

The Danxia scenery of Zhangye is characterized by numerous precipitous red cliffs, most of which are several hundred meters high, and colorful ridges of worn strata that occasionally extend to the horizon. When compared to the plains’ greens or grays, these structures, which are sometimes smooth and other times jagged, stand out and appear grand, splendid, vivacious, and virile.

A kaleidoscope of various red rocky outcrops scattered throughout the danxia landscape zone resembles fascinating things like castles, cones, towers, people, animals, birds, and other wildlife. Their peaks create a mirage-like landscape of beautiful mountains and pavilions by poking through the fog and clouds.

Why The Zhangye Danxia Has Colorful Layers?

The region was formerly a part of the ocean about 540 million years ago. The land was elevated above sea level and folded into mountains as a result of a tectonic plate collision.

Rivers that emerged in the region caused the deposition of red sandstone. Mudstone was deposited on top of the red sandstone as a result of the earth sinking into a basin. Different sedimentary rocks were created over time that had varying concentrations of ferrous salt in the mud and stone. The layers’ various colors are due to this. The sedimentary layers generated have varying shades of red, purplish red, yellowish green, grayish green, and gray due to differences in the sedimentary settings. Each layer formed over thousands of years.

Rivers emerged as a result of the Himalayas’ migration, which raised the region. The early Danxia environment was shaped by river erosion, which created gorges. The multicolored layers we see now were created by wind and river erosion throughout subsequent geological eras.

First Viewing Platform

At only a 10-minute walk away, the first observation platform is both the largest and the closest to the entry. There aren’t many steps to climb in order to reach the observation deck. You can virtually touch it, and you can see the tall, vivid mountains.

If you use your imagination, you can see shapes in the mountains that are known as Rainbow Hill, Monkeys Rushing into the Sea of Fire, the enormous “scallops,” and Monks Worshiping the Buddha.

Second Viewing Platform

At this point, there are actually two platforms: one at the bottom and one at the peak of a hill. The distance from the base platform to the top platform is only a short distance. But getting there requires a lot of work. You may glimpse a mountain that resembles a sleeping beauty from the base platform.

The highest viewing platform is at the top. It contains 666 stairs, and the climb up them takes around 30 minutes. The Great Wall-like wooden staircase leading to the top platform winds along the ridge. You can take a picture of the panoramic vista at the top. Additionally, it’s a great spot to see the sunset.

Third Viewing Platform

The renowned “Seven-Color Fan” may be seen from the third observation platform. The mountain appears to have been painted in a variety of hues. The enormous undulating hills’ soft colors give them a very calming appearance.

End Note

For your benefit, you don’t need to go to northwest China to witness this exact same procedure. Wander about outside while taking in the surroundings and the ground below. There is a good likelihood that you have found an iron oxide-stained sandstone if you try to identify a rock that is uniformly red in hue.

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