Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Adventure

Post Disclaimer: We took hundreds of photos today and none of them are going to do justice to what we saw. Easily the prettiest natural views that either of us world travelers have ever seen.

Today’s adventure called for an 8 am start and thankfully we went to bed early as we had no idea what we were in store for. After exploring the new hotel breakfast buffet (strongest hotel buffet we’ve ever seen), we met our tour guide named Cloud in the lobby to prepare for an action packed day.

We made our way over to the park entrance (a brief 5-minute drive away) and joined the masses of tourists trying to navigate their way around the park. After a 15-minute bus ride within the park, our first stop was a cable car that took us to the top of Tianzi Mountain.

In this massive park (19 sq miles), Cloud pointed out the various key spots for us to view and snap for memories. We wandered around and even climbed up a few stories in a building for a look-out to grab some good panoramic photos. After we had traversed the paths, we made our way to the next internal bus stop and got on a 45-minute windy path road to get to our second destination- the “Avatar Mountain” view points.

This was probably our favorite stop as every which way you turned, the spire mountains continued to pop up in various shapes, sizes, and directions. There were a few look-outs that Cloud sent us to which were entirely empty which really helped take in the sights and sounds of where we were. We walked through a natural bridge between two of the mountains as well as saw the lovers/wishers lane on the mountain- many had purchased these red “stripes” that were used to document wishes as well as engraved locks and latching them onto the mountain (similar to the bridge in Paris).

Next up (after another bus ride), we made our way to the glass elevator to get down the mountain. This is allegedly the largest outdoor elevator measuring in at nearly 340m and is actually two-stories with an upper and a lower car. We took the 90 second ride down and wandered around the bottom to get some of our first looks at the mountain range from the bottom-up instead of from the top-down.

Our next destination was known as golden whip stream- it was a 7 km path connecting two points of the mountain and hugged a babbling brook/stream the entire way down the path. Cloud told us that there was only one way in/out so we could walk as long as we pleased and he’d be waiting there for us when we returned. We ended up going on a nearly 2 hour walk (6 miles) and it was a great chance for us to listen to the water rushing through the rocks and people watch. The highlight of the walk may have been meeting our new friend, the stray dog. We named him Georgie after we stumbled upon him after 10 minutes and he stayed with us for the following 80 minutes. Despite walking by tons of people and being distracted by monkeys and food on the ground, this dog was seldom more than 10-15 feet away on our journey. Georgie would’ve likely made it the entire way with us but some mean park-worker scared him as we walked by and Georgie ran left when we needed to turn right (and he was scared to come back down the path, it was very sad- read: we want a dog).

As we were making our way out of the golden whip stream, we paused to watch a group of nearly 100 small monkeys playing in the stream and swinging from the trees into the stream. Debbie got very nervous as some of the Chinese tourists were trying to pet/feed/get close to the monkeys- all things that you don’t really want to do…

We finally met back up with Cloud to head towards our last stop- the 10 mile path. While the path isn’t 10 miles, it’s certainly another long path between the mountains providing good bottoms-up views and even has a tram that you can ride from one side to the other. We were pretty tired (Cloud was exhausted) and we walked maybe 15 minutes into the path to get a few final photos for the day before heading for the exit.

We had left the hotel just after 8 am and walked back in just after 515 pm and were exhausted- we’d certainly only scratched the surface of the National Park but saw the highlights as we would be headed a different direction for tomorrow’s adventure. We walked nearly 15 miles exploring and certainly went down as the most active day we’d had yet

Next Up- Tomorrow’s adventure to the glass bottom bridge and more national park adventuring…

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