Ziyuan County is located in the mountainous area where the Miao, Yao, Dong and Han people live in a compact community. To the north of Mao’er Mountain, Ziyuan County has a high topography and complicated landforms, such as mountains, hills and valleys. The mountains have different scenes in four seasons: the flowers blossom in spring, bamboo grows fast in summer, the maple trees turn red in autumn and snow cover everything in winter.
Ziyuan County is cut through by the Zijiang and Xunjiang (Wupai) rivers. Its main tourist items include: drifting along the Zijiang River, making explorations on the Wupai River, visiting Bajiaozhai and appreciating Baoding Waterfall.
Drifting Along the Zijiang River
The Zijiang River originates from Mao’er Mountain. Within a distance of several thousand meters, the fall of the river comes to more than 1,000 meters. The mountain is steep and the river flows swiftly through the Danxia landforms formed over 100 million years ago in the Cretaceous period. The peaks along the river are in various shapes: some are as flat as high terraces; some are as round as mushrooms; and some are as sharp as needles. In addition, red gravels display colorful veins after being eroded by the wind, frost, rain and snow for millions of years, forming the fascinating Danxia landforms on both sides of the Zijiang River.
With 31 curves and 45 beaches, the drifting section of the zigzagging Zijiang River stretches nearly 23 kilometers, from 5 kilometers downstream the county seat to Hujiatian in Meixi Township. This section of the river does not have reefs. Though the water runs swiftly and waves go high, drifting along this section is very safe. On the way, you can appreciate Sail Rock, Jade Screen Hill, Heavenly Gate Pond, Elephant Drinking Water, and other scenic spots. At Gulangtian, you can get off the boat to take a rest and enjoy songs and dances performed by ethnic minority people.
Located in Tonghe Village in Yandong Township, Baoding Waterfall is over 10 kilometers from the county seat. It originates from Baoding Mountain, with an elevation of 1,924 meters. The Travel Notes by Xu Xiake of the Ming Dynasty records: “The hanging waterfall is splashing in all directions. It is as long as a piece of cloth, and as even as a curtain. When it turns, it is like pouring down.”
At the bottom of the waterfall stands Shangliang Reservoir. The waterfall that rushes down forms a delightful contrast with the lake that is as smooth as a mirror. Going boating on the lake is just like entering a world in colorful light.
Standing at Datuo Village in Meixi Township in the northeast of the county, Bajiaozhai, also known as Yuntai Mountain, is famous for the clouds circled it. Its main peak is 814 meters above sea level. Bajiaozhai has its name for its octagon shape. Today Bajiaozhai has become a national forest park.
Covering an area of 150 square kilometers, Bajiaozhai Scenic Area is from Dragon Head Hill to Huangshui River in Xinning County in Hunan, in the center of the largest Danxia Landform basin (Zixin Basin). The rock peaks here thrust themselves toward the sky in unusual shapes, towering and majestic, which are named as the “Soul of Danxia Landform”.
Standing at the top of Bajiaozhai, you can have a panoramic view of a large number of peaks which look like numerous swimming dragons or ten thousand of galloping horses, and deep valleys, fertile fields and villages. Bajiaozhai has 16 famous scenic attractions, such as “Snails in a Battle Array”, “Heavenly Dog Looking at the Moon”, “Double Dragons Welcoming Guests”, “Stage in the Air”, “Ruined Walls of the Ancient Castle”, “Eye Rock”, “Divine Eagle Rock”, and “Sisters Rock”, etc.