Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is one of the most peculiar national forest parks in China.
[湖南张家界国家森林公园; Húnán Zhāngjiājiè Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán]
Situated in the northern region of Hunan Province in the People’s Republic of China, this national park forms a part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area and is positioned within the boundaries of Zhangjiajie City. It stands as one among the multiple national parks encompassed by the scenic area.
History & Culture
Zhangjiajie, an area steeped in history and legend, traces its origins back to the Neolithic Age when it was known as “Dayong”. This region, once considered remote and inaccessible, has human traces dating back approximately 100,000 years. Ancient local narratives tell of Zhang Liang, a renowned strategist from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD), who sought refuge in the area, then known as Qingyan Mountain, now Zhangjiajie. Fearing execution by Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, Zhang Liang chose this location for its serene beauty and seclusion, becoming a hermit and allegedly planting seven ginkgo trees. He was eventually buried beneath the same mountain. The name ‘Zhangjiajie’ is believed to derive from his lineage, with “Zhang” referring to his surname, “Jia” meaning family, and “Jie” signifying homeland or border.
Geographical and Natural Features
The park’s most distinguished geographic feature is its array of towering pillar-like formations. Contrary to appearances, these structures are not a result of limestone karst processes but are formed through extensive physical erosion over many years. The weathering of these pillars largely owes to winter ice expansion and the growth of plant life on them. The region experiences moist weather throughout the year, leading to dense vegetation. Streams primarily carry away the weathered material from these formations, which have become iconic in the Chinese landscape, often depicted in ancient paintings.
Park officials note that the stunning visuals of Zhangjiajie, particularly these unique formations, served as inspiration for the floating Hallelujah Mountains in the film “Avatar.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park map
Images of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China