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About Yuntai Mountain and Yuntaishan Geopark
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 age old red rock, high waterfalls and stunning mountain scenery.
Yuntaishan/Yuntai Mountain is included in my list of the most beautiful places in China!
The Qingtiane River cuts through the steep cliffs; occasionally forming deep turquoise pools and small waterfalls that cascade over large fallen rocks. Fresh water springs trickle down the cliff face and gather momentum before culminating in impressive falls hundreds of feet tall. A footpath follows the river as you criss-cross your way through the gorge as you pass by layers of rock formed over millions of years.
The mountains here aren’t particularly tall (max 1,308m/4291ft) but are no less impressive for it, covered as they are in verdant green forests that set the hillsides ablaze as the trees turn to orange, yellow and red of autumn.
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.
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 of 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. A cable car is being built but little information is available about its completion. I will update further as I pan to visit again in the not so distant future.
Entrance to Yuntaishan Geopark
In peak season (March to November) the entrance fee is ¥120 and 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 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. Cost per trip is ¥47 and journey time is approximately 2 hours.
From Luoyang buses leave Jinyuan Bus Station at 09:20 returning at 15:00. 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. Cost is ¥42 and journey time is around 40 minutes. You can also take a taxi which should cost no more than ¥90.
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.
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