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

Huanglong, Sichuan, China

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

Hiking Distance: 4km round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2009-05-02
Date last visited: 2009-05-02

Waterfall Latitude: 32.74598
Waterfall Longitude: 103.82865

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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.

Huanglong_163_05012009 - The gorgeous pools and terraces at the very top of the hike
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 wouldn’t 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).

Huanglong_017_05012009 - On the boardwalk at the base of Huanglong
Huanglong_023_05012009 - Only some of the travertine pools were filled with water at the bottom of Huanglong
Huanglong_043_05012009 - Closer look at some of the pools that were filled in at the bottom of Huanglong
Huanglong_054_05012009 - Closeup look at the first dry waterfall that we saw while hiking up Huanglong
Huanglong_057_05012009 - More direct look at that dry waterfall near the bottom of Huanglong
Huanglong_060_05012009 - Looking back at the profile of a dry waterfall
Huanglong_063_05012009 - This brain-like formation caught our attention while we were hiking up Huanglong
Huanglong_067_05012009 - Another dry waterfall as we were hiking up Huanglong
Huanglong_070_05012009 - Profile view of dry terraces as we were nearly half-way up Huanglong
Huanglong_075_05012009 - Continuing on the climb
Huanglong_077_05012009 - Panoramic view of snowy mountains in the distance with a temple below for scale
Huanglong_090_05012009 - Continuing on the boardwalk beyond the temple at which point we were starting to feel the thin air
Huanglong_091_05012009 - Another temple further up ahead as we got closer to the pools
Huanglong_108_05012009 - Our first look at the beautiful pools within the terraces atop Huanglong
Huanglong_111_05012009 - Getting closer to the pools atop Huanglong
Huanglong_119_05012009 - People on the boardwalk opposite the pools from us for scale
Huanglong_122_05012009 - Context of the pools atop Huanglong with some temples
Huanglong_140_05012009 - Even though we worked real hard to get here, there were still a lot of people
Huanglong_154_05012009 - Looking downstream from the top of Huanglong
Huanglong_018_jx_05012009 - Looking across the terraces as we were about to head back down Huanglong
Huanglong_024_jx_05012009 - Caught in a bit of a snowstorm on the return


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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Tagged with: huanglong, jiuzhaigou, tibetan plateau, springs, pools, colorful, yellow dragon, chengdu, sichuan, szechuan, nature reserve

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