About Huanglong Waterfalls (黄龙的瀑布 [Huánglóng de Pùbù])
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 namesake yellow terraces and mounds.
While such yellow features were interesting in and of themselves, they also gave rise to some waterfalls as well as glorious pools.
Huanglong means “Yellow Dragon” and I’d imagine that had we seen the landscape from the cable car here under decent weather, it would become obvious how this park got its name.
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 despite the detour.
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.
Speaking of terraces, they totally reminded Julie and I of those found in the northwestern part of Yellowstone National Park though Huanglong’s terraces were not geothermal in nature.
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 even if they were signposted. So we’ll just have to come back here to give this place its due (and to adjust the low scenic rating, as a result).
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 couldn’t linger at the colorful terrace pools for much longer because 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.
In hindsight, 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 round-trip 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).
The Huanglong Waterfalls reside in the Huanglong National Park near Songpan in the Sichuan Province, China. To my knowledge, I have not found a reliable official government authority administering this area, but it has been gazetted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thus, in order to inquire about the current conditions, while I can’t recommend a particular government website, you might want to give the UNESCO website a try.
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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