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Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park

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Wandering the Rainbow Mountains along the Silk Road Zhangye  China

Wandering the Rainbow Mountains along the Silk Road

The Rainbow Mountains (Danxia) near Zhangye are one of the great natural wonders of China, and unique. If you're traveling the Silk Road in Gansu, you must make a stop. If not, they're worth a visit on their own merit.

The vividness of the colors takes your breath away. Can this be real? Did the government use some chemicals to enhance the view? But, no, it's just Mother Nature wowing us again. As the earth erodes, the surface oxidizes into a delicate layer of bright color. Reds, yellows, oranges, but also delicate blues, greens, and purples for the patient eye.

Take the train or bus to Zhangye. Any hostel or hotel will be able to arrange a ride for you to this national park, which is about 40km to the northwest of the city. The entrance fee isn't bad at less than $20. Go at a less-traveled time so you have some peace and quiet to reflect and observe the wonder. Stay on the paths, even if your heart wants to wander freely amid the colors. Stepping on the thin rainbow crust destroys it, and new dirt must wait to be re-rusted by the air.