Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is located in the southern part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Zone. The several thousand mountain peaks of quartz rise abruptly from the ground. Streams flow through the Jinbian (Gold Whip) Stream Grand Canyon which is flanked by sheer cliffs. The sightseeing platform at Huangshi Village is shrouded in mist. Wild animals (especially the macaque monkeys) play freely in the primeval forests. The scenic zone is like a fairy land with the beauty of wild nature.
In 1982, it was recognized as China's first national forest park (4,810 hectares). Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was designated a much larger (397.5 km²) as Wulingyuan National Park by the State Council on August 1, 1988. In 1992, Wulingyuan National Park was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was then approved by the Ministry of Land and Resources as Zhangjiajie Sandstone Peak Forest National Geopark (3,600 km²) in 2001. In 2004, Zhangjiajie Geopark was listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
Origin of the name
The National Forest Park had been given the name of Zhangjiajie after the name of a small village located within its bounds, and now a popular tourist attraction within the park. The three-character name can be interpreted as follows: Zhang is a common surname in China; Jia can be translated as family; and Jie can be translated as homeland, giving the completed translation of Zhang family homeland. It has been reported that at least one tourist guide has said that the name may have been chosen to convey the idea or impression of Open the family door to welcome the world, but this is not the locally-accepted and directly translated meaning of the name.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Attractions
Avatar Hallelujah Floating Mountain
The famous Avatar Hallelujah mountain was originally named the South Celestial Pillar or Qiankun Column. It is located on the Huangshi Villiage sightseeing route, inside the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, north of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
There are hundreds of quartz-sandstone pillars standing solemnly and beautifully. Going through the South Gate, visitors will find the South Celestial Pillar, a stone peak, soaring from the unfathomable valley, and ‘floating’ on air. It was formed by rock weathering, after being cracked, and eroded. For millions of years, these isolated pillars stand still and are often shrouded in cloud and mist, creating a fairy world.
The unknown fairy world attracted Hollywood photographer Hansen who had a four-day location filming in Zhangjiajie. A large number of Zhangjiajie National Park images later became the prototypes of the various elements of ‘Pandora’ in the American sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar". Among them, the image of ‘the South Celestial Pillar’ becomes the prototype of the ‘Hallelujah Mountain’. Since then, it was changed its name to ‘Avatar Hallelujah Mountain’.
Avatar Hallelujah Floating Mountain
The World’s No. 1 Bridge
One of the highlight attractions in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, ‘the No. 1 Bridge in the world’ is a masterpiece of the nature. A 5-meter-thick flagstone connects two peaks, stretching over the deep valley. It is said that the two peaks used to be one, but has been divided to two, because of rock weathering and collapse.
Golden Whip Stream
Located in the east of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and named after the 380-meter high Golden Whip Rock, Golden Whip stream meanders 15 Li. Flowing from Laomo Gully first to Confluence of Four Rivers then to Suoxi Stream, it finally joins Li River, one of the four rivers in Hunan Province. It flows between steep grotesque peaks and luxuriant trees. Here, the meandering streams, the crystal-clear waterfalls, exotic plants and rare animals co-exist and constitute the extraordinarily beautiful, tranquil and natural ecological environment. No wonder it is called "the most beautiful valley in the world" and "the most poetic stream". The major scenic spots include Rock of Welcoming Guests, Golden Whip Rock, Reunion Rock and the Purple Grass Pond.
Huangshi Fort, named after a hermit Huangshi, is 1080m above sea level. It is higher on the south and elevated by stiff cliffs, covering an area of 16.5 hectors. It provides the largest collection of marvelous spectacles and also provides the larges sightseeing terrace above sea level in Zhangjiajie. The chief scenic spots include Treasure Box of Heavenly Books, the Magic Sea-suppressing Needle, the South Pillar of Heaven, the Golden Tortoise Watching the Sea and so on.
How to get to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Obviously, you need to get to Zhangjiajie city first. You can choose to take a flight, a train, or a long-distance bus. Read more about the detailed information here: Zhangjiajie Transport
. After arrival, take a taxi or city bus to the Zhangjiajie Central Bus Terminal, where there are regular buses to the national park and Wulingyuan area. The travel time is about 40 minutes. The fare is RMB 11.
Best time to visit
The park is beautiful all year round. It is full of vitality in spring, when everything comes to life again and the flowers are in full bloom, and turns to be a mysterious fairyland in winter, when blanketed with snow. However, the best time to visit Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is late spring and summer from April to August, and autumn from September to October. Zhangjiajie is one of the best summer resorts in China. It is cool and balmy with refreshing air even in hot weather. While in autumn, the weather is mild and pleasant. Visitors can expect the intriguing autumn foliage and lingering clouds and fog rising from the mountain peaks. To avoid the tourist crowds, you are not encouraged to visit Zhangjiajie in public holidays: May 1-3 (Labor Day), October 1-7 (National Day), late January to early February (Spring Festival).
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Accommodation
Most travelers choose to stay in Zhangjiajie city center or Wulingyuan area (right next to the park), as there are all kinds of hotels from five-star to budget hostels. If you’re going to stay overnight inside the park, there are small hotels and guesthouses in Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Wangqiaotai and Dingxiangrong Village (near to ‘World’s No. 1 Bridge’), but with only basic amenities.
Entrance Fee and the Validity
The entrance ticket you get allows visits to the four parts of Wulingyuan Scenic Area, including Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Huangshi Village, Golden Whip Stream and Yuanjiajie), Yangjiajie Natural Reserve (Wulong Village and Longquan Waterfall), Tianzi Mountain (Daguan Platform, Helong Park and Laowu Chang), Suoxi Valley (Ten-mile Gallery).
Peak season from March 1 to November 30: RMB248 p.p for adults, RMB163 p.p for children between 1.3 - 1.5 meters (4.3 and 4.9 feet), and free entry for kid under 1.3 meters (4.3 feet).
Low season from December 1 to the end of next February: RMB136 p.p for adults and RMB85 p.p for children between 1.3 - 1.5 meters (4.3 and 4.9 feet), and free entry for kid under 1.3 meters (4.3 feet).
Ticket validity: three days during the peak season and fours day during the low season
Note: the entrance fee doesn’t include the cable cars and Bailong Elevator