Huanglong Waterfalls (黄龙的瀑布 [Huánglóng de Pùbù])

Huanglong, Sichuan Province, China

Rating: 0.5     Difficulty: 2
One of the dry waterfalls as we came at the wrong time

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Huanglong Waterfalls (黄龙的瀑布 [Huánglóng de Pùbù]; Yellow Dragon's Waterfalls) are the waterfalls I'm putting into this page to highlight the sloping nature of the yellow terraces and mounds that give rise to not only some waterfalls but also glorious pools. Huanglong means "Yellow Dragon" and I'd imagine that had we seen the landscape from the cable car here under decent weather, we would envision why this park was so named. Overall, I thought this reserve was really a side attraction (though it was kind of a bit out of the way) to the more spectacular Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve. That said, we definitely thought it was worth making the time to visit Huanglong.

As you can see from the disappointing waterfall photos on this page, we showed up at the wrong time of the year (in early May). During our trip planning, we didn't realize that the snowmelt here would not be substantial enough to feed the waterfalls at this time of year. Therefore, based on our experience, I believe that we should have come immediately after the Summer rains to make this a really worthwhile park for both waterfalls and for colorful pools in the terraces that totally reminded Julie and I of those found in the northwestern part of Yellowstone National Park.

The gorgeous pools and terraces at the very top of the hike Among the names of the falls that would've been here were the Lotus Waterfall, the Marvelous Flying Waterfall, and the Golden Wall Waterfall among others. I didn't bother singling out each dry wall we saw to the signs so we'll just have to come back here to give this place its due (and to adjust the low scenic rating).

Speaking of side attractions, I'd argue that the waterfalls here would've taken a back seat to the terraces and pools comprising Huanglong anyways. The creme de la creme was at the very top of the strenuous high-altitude walk (which would've been less strenuous had we shelled out money for the cable car ride to the top). That was where we saw gorgeous light blue and yellow pools that were every bit as reminiscent of the Minerva Terrace in its prime in Yellowstone's northwest corner.

We would have lingered at the colorful terrace pools for much longer, but we were besieged by the onset of a snowstorm so we hastily had to make the long downhill hike to rejoin our tour guide and driver. This probably could've been an all-day excursion had the lower pools also been filled with water (which most of them were not due to the low water). But as it was, we spent around a half-day, and most of that was spent hiking.

Since we didn't take the cable car up, we can say that it took us about 4 hours to hike up to the pools at the very top and then come back. We were fighting the thin air on the way up, and we really wished that we didn't take the advice of our tour guide who discouraged us from taking the cable car. In any case, after being caught in the snowstorm, we were somehow fortunate enough to make it out of the storm to the Jiuzhai Airport safely (about an hour or so away).




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Colorful pools filling in behind the travertine dams at the terraces on the very top of HuanglongColorful pools filling in behind the travertine dams at the terraces on the very top of Huanglong
If not for the snowstorm, we totally could've spent much more time in this wonderland of colorIf not for the snowstorm, we totally could've spent much more time in this wonderland of color
This temple was about two-thirds on the way up to the top of HuanglongThis temple was about two-thirds on the way up to the top of Huanglong
On the boardwalk at the base of HuanglongOn the boardwalk at the base of Huanglong

Only some of the travertine pools were filled with water at the bottom of HuanglongOnly some of the travertine pools were filled with water at the bottom of Huanglong

Closer look at some of the pools that were filled in at the bottom of HuanglongCloser look at some of the pools that were filled in at the bottom of Huanglong

Closeup look at the first dry waterfall that we saw while hiking up HuanglongCloseup look at the first dry waterfall that we saw while hiking up Huanglong

More direct look at that dry waterfall near the bottom of HuanglongMore direct look at that dry waterfall near the bottom of Huanglong

Looking back at the profile of a dry waterfallLooking back at the profile of a dry waterfall

This brain-like formation caught our attention while we were hiking up HuanglongThis brain-like formation caught our attention while we were hiking up Huanglong

Another dry waterfall as we were hiking up HuanglongAnother dry waterfall as we were hiking up Huanglong

Profile view of dry terraces as we were nearly half-way up HuanglongProfile view of dry terraces as we were nearly half-way up Huanglong

Continuing on the climbContinuing on the climb

Panoramic view of snowy mountains in the distance with a temple below for scalePanoramic view of snowy mountains in the distance with a temple below for scale

Continuing on the boardwalk beyond the temple at which point we were starting to feel the thin airContinuing on the boardwalk beyond the temple at which point we were starting to feel the thin air

Another temple further up ahead as we got closer to the poolsAnother temple further up ahead as we got closer to the pools

Our first look at the beautiful pools within the terraces atop HuanglongOur first look at the beautiful pools within the terraces atop Huanglong. We were very glad we made it this far!

Getting closer to the pools atop HuanglongGetting closer to the pools atop Huanglong

People on the boardwalk opposite the pools from us for scalePeople on the boardwalk opposite the pools from us for scale

Context of the pools atop Huanglong with some templesContext of the pools atop Huanglong with some temples

Even though we worked real hard to get here, there were still a lot of peopleEven though we worked real hard to get here, there were still a lot of people

Looking downstream from the top of HuanglongLooking downstream from the top of Huanglong

Looking across the terraces as we were about to head back down HuanglongLooking across the terraces as we were about to head back down Huanglong

Caught in a bit of a snowstorm on the returnCaught in a bit of a snowstorm on the return


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We were driven here from Jiuzhaigou taking about 2 hours 15 minutes (though our driver drove quite fast). And between Huanglong and the Jiuzhai Airport, it was about an hour drive.

We arrived at the Jiuzhai Airport from Chengdu, which was 424km away (a 1-hour flight or 7.5-hour drive). Chengdu was a 2.5-hour flight from Hong Kong, 1,963km (21 hours drive or over 3 hours flight) west of Shanghai, and 1,818km (20 hours drive or over 3 hours flight) southwest of Beijing.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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