Lesser-known places to see fall foliage in China (I)

Writer: Chen Xiaochun  |  Editor: Stephanie Yang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2021-10-11

As every traveler knows, autumn is the best season for traveling and shouldn’t be missed. People with traveling experience will know that after the National Day holiday comes the stunning fall foliage season.

When talking about colorful autumn leaves, people usually think of Tokyo. However, the largest place for appreciating red leaves in Asia is not in Tokyo, but in China. In this article, we will introduce several routes for appreciating blight red leaves in China.

Three Gorges

The well-known Three Gorges in most people’s eyes is only a great water engineering project. Few know that upon the arrival of autumn, Three Gorges on the Yangtze River will be dressed in vibrant red leaves, which is the theme of many of the most famous tourist sites in China. Take a boat and sail downriver, the landscape is spectacular and the colors of the trees are ravishing to the eye.

Among the 12 peaks in Wushan Mountain, Fairly Lady Peak located on the north bank of Wu Gorge is known for its beauty. It’s also a concentrated area of red leaves, a supreme spot for appreciating the gorgeous autumn color.

Trek up the Fairly Lady Peak along staircases, and you will enjoy the path with the best view, accompanied by the splendid red leaves. Once you reach the top, you can see the red color dressing the whole area.

Apart from this, you can also check out Baidicheng, which is an ancient fortress and temple complex on a hill on the northern shore of the Yangtze River, and Qumen Gate or Qutang Pass, through which the Yangtze River flows into the Three Gorges from the Sichuan Basin.

Enshi Grand Canyon, comparable to the Grand Canyon in the U.S., is located in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture. The national 5A tourist attraction reaches 108 kilometers in length and is home to a primitive forest, spectacular waterfalls, steep mountains, a cloud sea and karst landforms, including over 200 karst caves.

The Sobuya stone forest, formed 460 million years ago during the Ordovician Period, is one of the oldest stone forests in the world and the second largest stone forest in China. It is a museum of ancient geology.

Sobuya, like a mysterious book, introduces the evolution of landforms, human civilization, tribal culture, as well as geological changes. When you wade into the heart of this mysterious place after a long journey, you cannot help becoming fascinated by her beauty.

If you want to experience the daily life of the Tujia Ethnic Group, Nyu’er City (the Daughters’ City) in Enshi is a good option. Located in Qiliping in downtown Enshi,the Daughters’ City is actually a folk street with restaurants, shops and entertainment. The street is built along the river, and the road, paved with gray breccia besides stilt houses, and brings Tujia folk customs back to life.

Shennongjia forest area

The red leaves in the Shennongjia forest area are mainly red maple leaves. When autumn comes, the mountains turn from green to yellow and later from yellow to red. During other periods of the year, apart from red, golden and green are also main tones of this area. When you drive into this area, you will enjoy a real autumn experience complete with mountains decked out in full autumnal glory.

The red and golden leaves on maple trees and chestnut trees mingling among the evergreen vegetation makes the Tianyan scenic spot look like a spilled paint palette with vibrant red, shining golden, lush green and bright blue.

The Gallery Valley, located at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level, covers over 1,000 mu (666,667 square meters). With long ravines, long and narrow cliffs, and green water flowing through, the spot looks like a picturesque landscape painting. The arrival of autumn adds a colorful touch to this beautiful forest.

Shennong Valley is home to dense forests, karst landforms, and a complete ecosystem. The unique environment endows the place with super fresh air, making it a natural oxygen bar, especially in autumn.

In addition to the red leaves, sea clouds and mist, the creeks in Shennongjia forest area are also stunningly beautiful. The Xiangxiyuan Scenic Area, located at the southeast of Shennongjia, is an ecological cultural tour area. Xiangxiyuan, which is the source land of the Xiangxi River, a tributary of the Yantze River, is also a famous attraction in Shennongjia.

Legend has it that Wang Zhaojun, known as one of the Four Beauties in ancient China, once lived at the side of the creek. Xiangxiyuan got its name because Wang often washed her hands in the creek, leaving it full of aroma. The water in the Xiangxiyuan is pure, sweet and cool.

Guzhao Highway, which is about 10.5 kilometers long, is built in the middle of a river valley. The spectacular road is built on top of a bridge that follows the curve of the river valley. Drivers along the route are treated to breathtaking views of the valley as well as the river and nearby villages. The road is reputed to be the most beautiful highway above water.