The Floating Mountains


So for the more travel-savvy among you, here’s a destination you might have heard of before. It’s located in the Hunan province of South-Central China, and is the inspiration behind the stunning ‘Hallelujah Mountains’ from blockbuster Avatar. It’s name? Wulingyuan.

Wulingyuan, which I suppose would be considered a mountain range, is composed of multiple quartzite sandstone pillars, each looming about 3,100 feet tall above the ground. The pillars are a karst formation, similar in origin to a previous location-of-the-week, Plitvice Lakes National Park. The range actually spans three different parks; Natural Reserves of Emperor Mountain, National Reserves of Suoxi Gully, and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, so if you plan on seeing everything make sure you leave yourself plenty of time. But if you’re on a tight schedule, I’ve heard through the grapevine that Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, located in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, is accessible by a forty minute bus-ride and offers one of the most spectacular views of the pillars. The scene is apparently so breath-taking it even has its own name; Shenbingjuhui, meaning ‘God’s Force Rally’ (which comes across as a pretty good recommendation).

View from Yuanjiajie Scenic Area (image from

       It’s easy to see why the creators of Avatar, not to mention artists from all over the world, were inspired by these commanding testaments to the beauty of nature. Not surprisingly, it’s a very popular tourist site (although Western tourism is sparse; most visitors are from other parts of China) so expect crowds. But I think any amount of crowding would be worth the chance to take in this view firsthand:


4 thoughts on “The Floating Mountains

  1. A beautiful and easier way to see such ethereal mountains is to travel to Guilin (guay-lin), China and take a cruise on the River Li. Steve and I were able to take this cruise in 2005. What an amazing adventure ~ I also recall such mountains are found in Vietnam.

  2. Pingback: All that was left behind (part 2) | A Life Less Boring

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