Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area is situated in the
Minshan Mountains, 400 kilometers from downtown Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
Jiuzhaigou is famous for its rolling mountains, dense forests, colorful
lakes, steep waterfalls, and wide variety of birds and animals.
The Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area covers an area of 600 square kilometers. The
name “Jiuzhaigou” means the Ravine of Nine Villages, and the
area was so named because there were nine Tibetan villages there. More
than half of the scenic area is covered by virgin forests with bamboo,
flowers, and such animals as giant pandas, golden monkeys, and white-lipped
deer. The main valley is 50 kilometers long and consists of Shuzheng Qunhai,
Rize, and Zechawa valleys coming together in the shape of a Y. Waterfalls
and streams link 108 lakes of varied sizes.
Jiuzhaigou, with its many lakes, is enchanting. According to legend,
the goddess Wonosmo dropped a mystical mirror, a gift of love from the
god Dag, and the broken pieces became the 108 lakes.
to science, the lakes were formed because of the calcium carbonate in
the flowing water when the earth was in the cold, interglacial stage and
the little ice age. The calcium carbonate could not coagulate but flowed
with the water. More than 12,000 years ago, the global climate became
warmer, and the calcium carbonate became active and attached itself to
obstacles in the water. As time passed, the attached matter became thicker,
forming the milky white banks of barrier lakes.
According to legend, the colorful lakes in Zechawa Valley are the Jasper
Lakes of the Queen Mother of the West. Some of them are blue and green,
others are brown, dark gray, and purple. According to a local saying,
the lake water is colored by the cosmetics of fairy maidens, but people
today say it has something to do with the aquatic plants in the lakes.
view of Five-Flower Lake in Rize Valley is majestic. Looking down from
the mountain, one can see the lake hemmed in on three sides by mountains.
The lake looks like a big gourd pouring colorful water endlessly. At the
bottom of the lake, there are small, dark-green plum-shaped spots, and
in the middle of the gourd is a light-blue figure 10 meters long, shaped
like the leg of a sika deer. It is said that when the Mountain God appeared
in the mountain, a frightened sika seer lost a leg, which dropped into
The tranquility of the colorful mountain lakes is broken by the many
roaring waterfalls downstream. The Nuorilang Waterfall at the end of the
Shuzheng Qunhai Valley emerges from among willow trees, which seem to
comb the 100-meter-wide falls into strands of crystal hair.
The most magnificent waterfall in Jiuzhaigou is the Pearl Beach Waterfall
in the Rize Valley, roaring down from a sheer cliff, and flying about
in all directions. The drops of water reflected in the sunlight glisten
like colorful pearls.
At the end of the Zechawa Valley is Changhai (Long Lake), discovered
in the 1970s by lumberjacks. It is the largest lake in Jiuzhaigou. With
an elevation of 3,000 meters, the Changhai area is covered by snow all
year round. Those who have visited the lake say that it is especially
pleasant to boat on the lake in summer. In spring the lake mirrors the
flowers on the snow-capped mountains. In autumn it mirrors the red and
gold maple leaves. In winter, it is covered with ice.
Walking in Jiuzhaigou, the visitor feasts his eyes on beauty everywhere,
and it is hard to resist an occasional sigh. “Walking in Jiuzhaigou,”
said one visitor, “it seems as if one were walking in a picture.”