Category: Jiuzhaigou.

About: Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

WHS#673 | Jiuzhaigou | Tourist Map | Travel Guide | Photo & Video Gallery | News Update

Chinese name: Jiu Zhai Gou Feng Jing Ming Sheng Qu

English name: Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Approval Date: December 1992

Heritage category: Natural heritage

Selection criteria: Based on the standards N(III) for selecting natural heritage, the Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area was listed in the World Heritage List.

Assessment of the World Heritage Committee:

The Jiuzhaigou Valley is in northern Sichuan Province, and covers an area of 72,000 hectares. The long and wandering Jiuzhaigou Valley has an altitude of over 4,800 meters, and therefore, a series of various forest ecological systems has formed there. Due to the conical karst landforms and the majestic waterfalls, the splendid valley is even more interesting. The Jiuzhaigou Valley is home to over 140 bird species and many endangered animals and plants, including giant pandas and the Sichuan Takin.

Jiuzhaigou Valley


The Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area is located in Nanping County, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province in western China. Since there are nine Tibetan villages situated on this high-altitude land of lakes, it is called “Jiuzhaigou” (nine-village valley). The Jiuzhaigou Valley covers an area of about 720 square kilometers, and most of the valley is covered by forests. The key scenic area in the valley is over 80 kilometers long, and consists of two branch lines. The first one is from the entrance of the valley to Nuorilang Waterfall to Changhai Lake, and the second one is from the Nuorilang Waterfall to the primeval forest.

The valley is beautiful, natural and pure, and contains six great wonders—the Changhai Lake, the Sword Rock, the Nuorilang Waterfall, the Shuzheng Gully, the Zharu Gully and the Black Sea. Of all the sceneries in Jiuzhaigou, the most fantastic are the waterscapes. Over 100 colorful and crystal-clear lakes are scattered along the long and narrow valleys. Springs, waterfalls, rivers, and beaches connect the lakes together. It looks like an amazing picture. The waterscapes also change as the season changes. Under the background of snow-capped peaks and the blue sky, the waterscapes have helped the Jiuzhaigou Valley earn the title of “King of China’s Waterscapes” and aroused comments such as “people who have visited Mount Huangshan will lose interest in visiting the other mountains, and people who have visited the Jiuzhaigou Valley will lose interest in visiting other waterscapes.”

The Jiuzhaigou Valley is on the northern foot of the Gaerna Peak in the southern part of the Minshan Mountains. It is a branch of the Jialing River at its source, and the Jialing River is a tributary of the Yangtze River. The valley belongs to the transitional zone between the Sichuan Basin and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and has very complex geological structures. It is a place with different altitudes and climates, but beautiful mountains and waterscapes.

The main part of the Jiuzhaigou Valley is shaped like a “Y,” and is over 50 kilometers long in total. There are a lot of lakes, waterfalls and golden sand beaches in the valley. The waterscape is the leading star of Jiuzhaigou. The green and crystal-clear streams flow through forests and shallow beaches like necklaces, and the colorful lakes and majestic waterfalls always keeps your eyes busy.

Over one half of the Jiuzhaigou Valley is covered by virgin forests where various plants grow. Currently, the total area of the natural forests is about 30,000 hectares and the number of the plant species is over 2,000. Many kinds of wildlife also live there as well, including 170 kinds of vertebrates and 141 kinds of birds, of which, 17 are under national-level protection. The ground of the forests is covered by a thick layer of mosses, and you may also see animal feathers and furs. The primeval forest gives tourists a feeling that they are walking in a dream world.

Natural heritage value:

The unique waterscapes

The Jiuzhaigou Valley, judging from its unique landforms (chart 1) which is based on the calc-sinter lakes, calc-sinter waterfalls, and calc-sinter beaches, as well as the scale, type, number, shape, appearance and environment of its waterscapes, ranks first in China’s scenic and historic interest areas.

The graceful integrated environment

The Jiuzhaigou Valley takes the bright plateau scenery as its keynote characteristic and integrates it with the emerald lakes, layers of waterfalls, autumn forests, and snow peaks. It is called “heaven on earth,” and local Tibetans view it as “mystic hills and holy water.” They also adore and protect the mountains, bodies of water, forests and stones in the valley. After the Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area opened to the public, oriental people called the Jiuzhaigou Valley “heaven on earth,” while westerners called it a “fairy tale world.”

Various geomorphologic landscapes

The Jiuzhaigou Valley is located at the transition belt between the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Sichuan Basin, which has a complex geologic setting and wide distributed carbonate. The various landforms were created as a result of folding and faulting in the earth’s crust and strong neotectonic movements as well as the rising crust. At the same time, a large scale of calc-sinter deposits with karstification was also cultivated, and the deposits are mainly phytokarstic. The calc-sinter and karstification have jointly created the beautiful lakes, rapid streams, spectacular waterfalls, primeval forests, and rolling snowy peaks. These harmonious geomorphologic landscapes form the unique Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area.

Well preserved vestiges of glaciers

The peaks in Jiuzhaigou are lofty and steep and the arêtes are precipitous. The cirque and U-valley are very typical. Moreover, the suspended valley and the aulacogen are charming. The aulacogen extends to 2,800 meters above sea level. The Jiuzhaigou Valley is one of the few places in China where the vestiges of glaciers dating from the Quaternary glaciations are best protected.

A treasure house of genes from various biological species

The Jiuzhaigou Valley is a place where many natural elements meet, and there are clear vertical zonations of plants in the relatively towering mountains. In addition, there are abundant plant resources including 2,576 higher plants, of which, 24 are under national protection. There are also more than 400 lower plants, of which, 212 species are algae. Furthermore, the amount of algae that were first discovered in the Jiuzhaigou Valley reach over 40 species (chart 3). There are many kinds of vegetation forms, including zonal vegetation forms of different climate zones. The flora of the valley includes the plants of almost all zones in the world. Many ancient plants propagate by seed are well-preserved. Monotypic genera and polytypic genera account for 3.3 percent and 13.73 percent of the total number of plants in the valley respectively. The primitive euptelea pleiospermum, cercidiphyllum japonicum, globeflower, and Kingdonia uniflora all have a certain scientific value for studying the development of the botanical system and evolution of the flora there.

There are 17 species of rare wild animals in Jiuzhaigou Valley, including the giant panda, gnu and golden monkey which are under first-grade state protection, as well as the Elaphodus cephalophus, white-lipped deer, lesser panda, macaque, Lophophorus lhuysii and whooper swan which are under the second-grade state protection. In addition, the valley also has animals that are under the third-grade state protection such as the serow, goral, blue-eared pheasant and blood pheasant.

Aesthetic value:

The Jiuzhaigou Valley is a masterpiece of nature, and has green mountains and clear water. The mountains stand nearby the water and the water flows around mountains. The trees grow beside the water and the water flows in the forest as well. The mountains and water set each other off to show a beautiful scenery and clean environment. The harmonious integration of natural and synthetic beauty, which combines color, shape and sound, is of incalculable aesthetic value.

Fine combination of all kinds of sceneries in the valley

114 ladder-shaped lakes are distributed in the Jiuzhaigou Valley, which is a Y-shaped valley and surrounded by towering snowy mountains. These lakes are linked by many torrents, beach flows and waterfall groups, winding through more than 50 kilometers. The clear lake water, colorful waterfalls, surging water flows, green trees, white snowy mountains, blue sky, bright sunlight, fresh air, as well as the ancient villages, trestles and mills, all of which formed a beautiful, harmonious and unified environment of rich content, reflects a high degree of synthetic beauty.

The mountains, water, lakes, waterfalls and trees are organically blended together. The Jiuzhaigou Valley has green mountains and clear water, with lakes and waterfalls merging into an organic whole, and the mountains, forests, clouds and sky are reflected in the water, making the scenery in the water more beautiful. The mountains and forests as the background make the water more charming. The water from the ladder-shaped lakes flows down layer by layer, forming waterfalls, and then the waterfalls pour down to the lakes, which are tier upon tier and linked with each other. The tranquil blue lakes and white waterfalls constitute a wonderful view of integrating dynamic scenes with static scenes. The specific ecological environment of trees growing beside water and water flows in the forest constitutes a picture of high aesthetic value, adding infinite vitality to the Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Landscapes are multi-level: The mouth of Jiuzhaigou Valley is 2,000 meters above sea level and the Long Lake and Grass Lake on the top of the main trench is about 3,000 meters, with continually changing landscapes. All the landscapes from low to high, from simple to complex and from the prelude to climax are fascinating. The order of the Jiuzhaigou Valley landscapes is just like a magnificent symphony, leaving people with an unforgettable feeling of beauty.

The prelude of the Jiuzhaigou Valley landscapes, which is a 7,000-meter-long route from its mouth to the Heyeba, shows verdant trees, lively brooks, clumped reeds, joyful birds and fragrant flowers.

The first movement of the Jiuzhaigou Valley landscapes is in the wide area from Heyeba to the Shuzheng Scenic Spot. The Wolong Lake, colorful Bonsai Beach, miracle Sleeping Dragon Lake, as well as 19 Shuzheng Lakes and the Shuzheng waterfall group are surrounded by trees, and the ancient water mills and Shuzheng streams are embellished with wooden bridges. All of these plus the Shuzheng Waterfall that is 25 meters high and 82 meters wide are presented in front of tourists, making them wonder at the miracle natural scenery.

Walking up from the Shuzheng Scenic Spot, tourists will see the clear and wide Xiniu Lake, giving people a feeling of beauty and tranquility. Walking along Xiniu Lake, the wide Nuorilang Waterfall, which looks like a white curtain hanging in the green woods, is the most wonderful part of the landscapes. The scenic spots above the Nuorilang Scenic Area have their own characteristics and are the climax of the Jiuzhaigou Valley landscapes. The area has main lakes including the Long Lake, Mirror Lake, Five Flower Lake, Five Color Lake, Panda Lake, Swan Lake and Grass Lake, three large waterfalls, wide travertine streams and dense natural forests. The Long Lake is 3,060 meters above sea level, with an area of 1.5 square kilometers. It is surrounded by mountains, snowy peaks and dense forests, and provides spectacular scenery. The water in the Mirror Lake is as peaceful as a mirror, with blue skies and snowy mountains from afar and trees nearby reflecting in the lake water, it is a fantastic scenery. The water in the Five Flower Lake is most beautiful, and looks like a colorful kaleidoscope. The Five Color Lake has green water, like a magnificent gem embedded in the dark green forest. Set against the cliffs and forests, the water, brooks and flowers of the Swan Lake and Grass Lake are natural and quiet, and makes people feel like they are in a “fairyland.”

The 320-meter-wide Nuorilang Waterfall is the widest waterfall in China and it is located in the middle of the Jiuzhaigou Valley and is its symbol. The Pearl Shoal Waterfall that is 310 meters wide and 28 meters high is connected with Pearl Beach, which is crescent-shaped. The wide waterfall looks like a huge circular screen and is magnificent. The Panda Waterfall that is 78 meters high and 50 meters wide is the waterfall with highest drop in Jiuzhaigou Valley. It will freeze in the winter and the dazzling ice world is indeed a splendid sight. The swift current of the giant Pearl Beach stirs up numerous spoondrifts, like countless rolling pearls in the sunlight. A feeling of mystery will spontaneously arise when people enter the Long Lake area and the natural forests of the Rizegou Gully amid the towering trees and moss. All these scenic spots are the most prominent in Jiuzhaigou Valley, each giving people a strong sense of beauty and exciting them. The scenic spots of the Jiuzhaigou Valley are in the upward order, and there is a harmonious and natural transition between scenic spots that adds synthetic beauty. It is rare to have so many beautiful scenic spots in the Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area which is dozens of square kilometers.

Beauty of color is the soul

The colors in the Jiuzhaigou Valley are beautiful because they are colorful, unique, and constantly change. Lakes in Jiuzhaigou are generally next to the forests. As the water quality is clear and crystal, daylight, clouds, peaks and colorful forests are reflected in the lake and the mirror images are very clear. The inverted reflections in the water melt with the water in lake making the lake more beautiful. The colors of the lakes will change into various colors such as dark green, dark blue and turquoise blue as the season and weather changes. It is very unique that one lake can have so many colors such as sapphire blue, jade-green, orange and light red because of the travertine deposition and various algae with beautiful colors, as well as the differences in the distribution of submerged plants under Wuhua Lake. These things all make the lake look like an elegant baldric with many precious stones embedded in it. In autumn, the colorful forests on the banks of lakes will be reflected in the water and the inverted reflections will mix with the colors under the lake to form a colorful world. The plentiful colors are beyond the imagination of the artists. In the evening, the fiery red sunset will be reflected into the lakes, making the lake look like extremely brilliant flames with colorful waves.

The forests will show magnificent colors as the seasons change. At the beginning of spring, cuckoos of various colors such as red, yellow, purple and white will appear in the forests. Peach trees and pear trees will burst into flowers mixed with the vivid green of new leaves. As a result, the entire forest will be filled with colorful flowers. It is a sea of green in the summer. Various kinds of greens such as fresh-green, jade-green and dark-green show their thriving vitality. In late autumn, the deep orange of the Cotinus coggygria, the linden yellow leaves, the crimson maple leaves, and the dark red berries will be interspersed among the forests and the entire forest will look like a huge painting with great originality. The lakes will become bluer against the backdrop of the warm colors and the blue sky, white clouds, snow peaks, colorful forest reflecting in the lakes will show a waterscape with strange shapes and colors. At the beginning of winter, Jiuzhaigou will be covered with white snow and crystal white glacier falls and ice mantles. The forests will look like flawless white jades. Jiuzhaigou will appear white and elegant and seemingly dressed in silver and white clothing, and will look like a bright sapphire in a white porcelain dish.

Various forms of waterscape showcase beauty of the landscapes

The landscape in Jiuzhaigou includes many sorts of sights such as lakes, waterfalls, lacustrine beaches and springs. There are lakes that connect with each other and lakes that are separate. Some lakes are vast and mighty while some are small but beautiful. Some lakes are noted for their inverted reflections and some are famous for their colors. The widest waterfall is more than 300 meters wide and the highest is nearly 80 meters high. The most spectacular waterfall looks like the Milky Way falling from the sky and the most soft and flowing looks like flowers being sprinkled by the heavenly fairies. Some beaches are like a range of bonsai while some are like splashed pearls. Jiuzhaigou is a congregation of water forms, water colors, water shapes and water sounds, and includes all the beautiful waterscapes in the world.

The beautiful waterscapes in Jiuzhaigou have proper proportion, smart compositions, shapely lines and lively rhythm, and form beautiful pictures in every perspective and view. Landscape factors such as mountains and forests melt with the waterscapes to form the best creative source for painters, writers and photographers. Therefore, Jiuzhaigou has become a creative theme of Chinese movies and television programs.

The splendid mountains and water in Jiuzhaigou enhance each other’s beauty and gather the beauty of colors, the beauty of forms, and the beauty of sound to form a multi-level and multi-faceted natural picture. The beauty of the entire Jiuzhaigou is considered as “natural beauty and beautiful in a natural way.” People will be intoxicated in this most beautiful enjoyment of the coordination of vision, hearing and feeling when travelling Jiuzhaigou.

The five great wonders of Jiuzhaigou

Green lakes

The water is the soul of the Jiuzhaigou Valley. The lakes in the valley are especially distinctive. The water of the lakes is completely clear all the year round, and the color and appearance of the water always changes as the sunlight and the seasons change. Some lakes look graceful and elegant, some look fierce and vigorous, and some look peaceful and quiet. On windless days, you will be able to see the complete reflections of the blue sky, white clouds, mountains faraway, and trees nearby. You can never tell whether the things under and above the water surface are real or an illusion. Some lakes have colorful water, which is jointly created by the sunshine, algae and the sediments at the bottom of the lakes. The light yellow, dark green, red-brown, deep red and emerald green colors constituted many geometric figures which are lustrous and dazzling. The water surface of the lakes looks like pieces of colorful silk that are changing their colors all the time. Sometimes, some lakes would look like a burning sea when their waves are illuminated by the sunshine, and sometimes, the long reefs of calcium compounds at the bottom of some lakes would look like swimming dragons. There are over 100 distinctive lakes in the valley, and all of them have been surrounded and decorated with trees and flowers by nature. The lakes are connected together through streams and waterfalls, and they look like a series of distinctive emeralds stringed with silver chains and white silk.

Multi-layer waterfalls

The waterfalls are an outstanding waterscape and an excellent work of nature. The Jiuzhaigou Valley is a world of water and also a kingdom of waterfalls. The streams run out of the forests fiercely and drop fast. They are like green machines of different sizes that are ceaselessly producing white silk. The Nuorilang Waterfall is the widest waterfall in China. Rushing off the green cliff, the powerful and splendid waterfall looks like a tremendous door curtain. Some water currents dash on the rocks several times, and then, multi-layer waterfalls will form. They sound like thousands of running horses and look like a group of jumping silver dragons. Because of the early morning sunlight, fascinating rainbows will often appear beside the waterfall, which always deeply attracts tourists and make them forget to go home.

Colorful forests

The colorful forests, which are known as the third wonder of the Jiuzhaigou Valley, cover more than half of the scenic spot. Over 2,000 plants are flourishing there with various flowers in full blossom. The living fossil plants, which are bathed in the dim mist, are dark green and lush. There are thick mosses and sporadic feathers of the birds and beasts on the forest land. The forest has a primitive appearance and makes visitors very relaxed. The 30,000 hectares of primitive forest change with the seasons. In the golden autumn, the forests looks like a colorful world, the dark orange common smoketree, golden birch leaves, crimson maples, dark red wild fruits are scattered all over the forest. Every forest is like a large natural oil painting. In the water and above, the combination of movement and silence forms a charming scroll painting . When winter comes, the accumulation snow changes the Jiuzhaigou Valley into a silvery white world. The forests are all covered by snow, and the ice cascade and ice screen are white and clean. The snow-covered Jiuzhaigou looks white and elegant as if it was a sapphire in white porcelain.

Snow peaks

The peaks of three valleys in Jiuzhaigou rise one higher than the other. Looking from far away, you can see all the snow-covered peaks, and the cirques under the sun dizzy the eyes. And when looking at Gaerna Mountain, the mountain is winding and the valleys are faint. All the wonders can be seen through a glance. The sea of the clouds seems to be connected with the sky, and the clouds are constantly moving. The peaks flicker in the sea of the clouds and the mists, seemingly traveling in heaven.

Tibetan folkways

The religion in Jiuzhaigou belongs to the Tibetan Buddhism, and is based on the Bön religion dominated by Buddhism culture. Tibetan people live on highland barley, maize and wheat. Delicate and simple are the characteristics of the Tibetan food in Jiuzhaigou and most of the buildings here are made of wood. The houses are generally divided into three floors with the first floor used to keep livestock. The second floor is used as a living space and the third floor is used as a scripture hall. In the Jiuzhaigou Valley, the way for Tibetan youth to find their spouses is similar to that of the Han Chinese, one is through free choice and the other is through the arrangement by parents.

Source: CNTV

Category: Jiuzhaigou