The three rivers, referring to the Jinsha River, Lancang River and Nujiang River, originate from Qinghai-Tibet plateau. They flow abreast southward from the Hengduan Mountains, northwest of Yunnan, with a closest distance of only 66.3 kilometers. The area almost has all kinds of landscape included in Northern Hemisphere, really an imposing and majestic sight. It was put on the List of World Heritages by UNESCO in 2003.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is well known in the world with a length of 20 kilometers and drop of 213 meters. There are a total of 18 dangerous shoals in its upper, middle and lower sections. The roaring sound form the valleys caused by the river water striking the huge rocks is famed for its precipitousness and grandeur. The elevation of the entrance of the gorge is 1,800 metes and the altitude difference is 3,900 meters. You may enter the gorge by passing the Chongjiang River from Hutiaoxia Town along the foot of Haba Snow Mountain. A highway can lead you directly to the upper section of the gorge, 9 kilometers from the town. It is the narrowest part of the gorge with a width of only 30 meters. A huge rock with a height of 13 meters stands in the center of the river – Tiger Leaping Rock. A legend says that once a tiger leaped across the river from the huge rock.
The mountain, located at Deqen Prefecture, has 13 mountain peaks with an elevation of 6,000 meters and ranks first among the eight holy mountains in Tibetan area. Kawakarpo Peak, with an elevation of 6,740 meters, is the main peak of Meili Snow Mountain, the highest peak in Yunnan. The Kawakarpo Peak, which is 184 kilometers from Shangri-La City, is the sacred place for Buddhists of Tibetan Buddhism to go for pilgrimage. People usually call it “God of the Snow Mountains”. Its glaciers extend downwards from an elevation of 6,000 meters to the forest area of 2,700 meters, vigorous and majestic, a rare glacier with such low latitude and high elevation.
The Baimang Snow Mountain is located at Deqen County. The golden monkeys of Yunnan, first-grade state protection animal, inhabit in the Mountain. The mountain is also the kingdom of azalea. The alpine azalea forest of the mountain is appraised as one of the ten most beautiful forests in China.
The White Water Terraces, located at Sanba Township, southeast of Shangri-La County, is one of the largest sinter tablelands in China. It not only has beautiful scenery but also is the birthplace of Dongba culture of Naxi Ethnic Group. Local Naxi people come here to offer sacrifices to the God of the mountain on the eighth of the second lunar month every year.
Haba means golden flower in Naxi language so Haba Snow Mountain is also known as Golden Flower Snow Mountain. It is 120 kilometers from Jiantang Town, capital of Deqen Prefecture, southeast of Shangri-La County. Covering an area of 219.8 square kilometers, Haba Snow Mountain is a nature reserve of Yunnan Province and is the paradise of various rare animals of Shangri-La. The natural landscape of the vertically distributed highland forest in the reserve is amazing. Tall and erect, the main peak of Haba Snow Mountain is surrounded by four small ones and is frozen all year round, looking imposing and elegant. On the north side of the mountain moraine lakes scattered on the section with an elevation above 3,500 meters. Among them the scenery of Heihai, Yuanhai, Huanghai and Shuanghai lakes are the most beautiful.
With a length of about 4 kilometers and width of 30-80 meters, Mingyong Glacier is at halfway up the Kawakarpo Peak, main peak of Meili Snow Mountain. The glacier winds down along Mingyong Valley and its ice tongue extends to the area with an elevation of 2,650 meters. It is surrounded by jade green hills and valleys. The primeval coniferous and broadleaf trees and damp evergreen broadleaf forest is well preserved, representing the typical diversified natural geographic feature of xerothermic valley of the Lancang River. According to study it is one of the glaciers with the lowest elevation and latitude in the Northern Hemisphere.
The park, 22 kilometers from the county town of Shangri-La, covers an area of 300 square kilometers and consists of Bitahai Nature Reserve, an important international wetland, and Shudu Lake Scenic Spot of the redwood sub-area of the “Three Rivers Flow Abreast” area, the World Natural Heritage. Located at the vegetation zone of sub-alpine taiga northwest Yunnan, Pudacuo National Park has a total of seven functional parts, including Shudu Lake in its north, Bitahai Lake in its south, and Luorong Ethnic Ecological and Culture Tourist Village and Militang Sub-alpine Pasture between the two lakes.
The lake is 25 kilometers east of the county town of Shangri-La and its surface is in a shape of conch formed by the stream gathered from the snow mountains. Landscape of the lake area is mainly alpine lakes with limpid water and the reflections of snow mountains and trees in the lake, which is an enchanting and beautiful scene. The lake is surrounded by dense azalea bushes. When the azalea petals fall into the lake at the blossom season, the fish will eat them by mistake. So they look like drunken fish with their white belly turning upside floating amidst, forming a unique sight – “drunken fish with azaleas”.
Napahai means a lake beside a forest. It is a plateau lake, 8 kilometers northwest of the county town of Shangri-La. Many rare birds inhabit here, among which is the well-known black-necked cranes, the first-grade state protection animal. A lot of birds circle over the water from September to March of next year. It is also the largest grassland of Shangri-La, covered with green grass and blossoming flowers in spring and the grass turn into golden yellow in autumn, a nice place to take pictures.
The canyon is famed not only for its depth and length along the Lancang River, but also for the torrential and swift flow. The drop is 504 meters, and when violent waves beat the bank at the narrow part it sounds like a roaring thunder, really spectacular. Such a unique landform with high mountains and deep valley is unusual in the world.
Blue Moon Valley Scenic Area of Shangri-La, also called Shika Snow Mountain area, is located at the south of Shangri-La county town of Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, at the juncture of northwest Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet and the hinterland of the Scenic Area of the “Three Rivers Flow Abreast”. Covering an area of 65 square kilometers, the scenic area has splendor snow-capped mountains, spectacular valley, mirror-like lakes, woolen blanket-like emerald grassy marshland and dazzling azaleas, mingled with the industrious and honest people of various nationalities on the ancient tea road and their folk custom and culture. The entrance of the scenic area is 7.34 kilometers from the county town and 4.5 kilometers from Shangri-La Airport.