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Yuntai Mountain also known as Yuntaishan Geopark is a 200km area of outstanding natural beauty hidden within the Taighangshan Mountains in China‘s Henan Province. The park comprises of gorges cut through the millennia-old red rock, high waterfalls and stunning mountain scenery.
I used to live close to Yuntaishan in Luoyang and spent a few days exploring this phenomenal geopark with its many paths and trails through the gorges and into the mountains.
The Qingtiane River cuts through the steep cliffs; occasionally forming deep turquoise pools and small waterfalls that cascade over large fallen rocks. Freshwater springs trickle down the cliff face and gather momentum before culminating in impressive falls hundreds of feet tall.
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What is the best time to visit Yuntai Mountain?
The mountainous scenery around Yuntaishan means that you will experience something different depending on the season. This is truly one of the most impressive China landscapes!
In winter snow-capped peaks and frozen streams will dominate Yuntai Mountain, while in spring the rivers and waterfalls will be rushing torrents.
In summer there will be more crowds, but the sun dazzling against the red sandstone walls and jade green pools will be impressive to all, and in autumn, the area erupts into a crescendo of colour that will melt the coldest of hearts!
If you plan on visiting in summer take plenty of water, and in winter wrap up in warm layers.
Yuntaishan Geopark Main Scenic Areas
Hongshi (Red Stone) Gorge
Arguably the most impressive of all the scenic areas at Yuntaishan, Red Stone Gorge is nestled beneath steep red sandstone cliffs that date back 1.4 billion years. A walkway will take you through the cliffs and down to the jade-green river.
The bottom of the gorge is dotted with many pools and small waterfalls, and the sandstone walls are a joy for any budding geologists to study the different layers of rock, varying in depth and shade.
Tanpu Gorge – Yuntai Mountain
It said that by drinking the still water from the springs of Tanpu Gorge at Yuntai Mountain, one can become immortal. However, some friends that visited Yuntaishan a year before me got very sick. It remains to be seen whether they will live forever, but I’d recommend a water filter nevertheless!
Longevity and sickness aside, the Tanpu Gorge is a truly wondrous part of the park with towering cliffs and mountains surrounding you in every direction as the river splashes and gurgles beside you.
Wanshan Temple – Yuntai Mountain
Set beneath the imposing Hades Nose Peak at Yuntai Mountain, and built originally during the Ming Dynasty, Wanshan Temple is a haven of tranquility in an already tranquil setting. Avoid taking the bus and walk the few kilometers through the village and up into the hills, as crows circle high above and their craws reverberate around the valleys.
Entrance to the temple is included in the park ticket and a vegetarian restaurant is situated on-site providing both guests and resident monks with a hearty meal.
The so-called ‘monkey valley’ is a small area near the entrance to Tanpu Gorge that is home to some wild and not-so-wild macaque monkeys. In the peak season, the not-so-wild ones perform needless tricks for gawping tourists as the wilder ones try to relieve passers-by of their belongings.
Attacks on visitors are not infrequent as the signs attest, so if you are not put off by the moral argument for avoiding this section, then perhaps the safety aspect might make you rethink.
Cornel (Zhuyu) Peak – Yuntai Mountain
Cornel Peak is the tallest mountain in the park at 1,308 metres (4,291 feet) and includes one of China’s infamous glass-bottomed walkways over a 1,000m sheer drop (¥10). You can take the park bus part of the way and then follow the steep steps and walkway to the peak.
Entrance to Yuntaishan Geopark
- In peak season (March to November) the entrance fee is ¥120 and in off-season, it is ¥75.
- Opening hours are 06:00 – 17:30 (peak season) and 07:00 – 17:00 (off-season).
- Transportation around the park is by bus and a 3-day ticket costs ¥60.
Where to Stay at Yuntai Mountain/Yuntaishan
There are numerous hotels and guesthouses at the entrance to the Yuntai Mountain scenic area and prices start from ¥100 ($14) per night. I booked using the Trip.com App but you can also book via their website: Trip.Com Hotels.
I stayed at the very comfortable Tiantai Yunjie Hotel which had a huge modern room with a balcony. Prices start from ¥449 ($65) so it is a little on the expensive side. Book with Trip.com.
How to get to Yuntai Mountain and Yuntaishan
From Beijing take the fast train to Zhengzhou (2.5 to 3.5 hours / ¥309). If you are taking the train from Beijing to Xian you can elect to break the journey for a stop in Yuntaishan, but you will need to book tickets from Beijing to Zhengzhou and then Zhengzhou to Xian.
From Zhengzhou, buses leave the long-distance bus station at 07:30 and 08:30 returning at 15:30 and 16:30. The cost per trip is ¥47 and the journey time is approximately 2 hours.
From Luoyang, buses leave Jinyuan Bus Station at 09:20 returning at 15:00. The journey time is approximately 3 hours. In winter buses may not be running; instead, take the 10:00 bus to Jiaozuo (see below).
From Jiaozuo you can take a tourist bus from the main bus station. The cost is ¥42 and the journey time is around 40 minutes. You can also take a taxi which should cost no more than ¥90.
About the author:
Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has travelled to over 60 countries, lived in China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.
Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of Europe and Asia by train, bus and boat.
Where I am now: Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲