Jiuzhaigou Valley is a nature reserve in the north of Sichuan province, China. It lies at an elevation between 1980 and 3100 m. It takes its name from the nine Tibetan villages along its length. This region was inhabited by various Tibetan and Qiang peoples for centuries.
Jiuzhaigou National Park was established in 1982 and it was listed as AAAAA-level National Scenic Area in 2007. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. It belongs to the category V (Protected Landscape) in the IUCN system of protected area categorization.
Jiuzhaigou Valley is a Y-shaped valley composing three sections. It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes. The Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley flow from the south and meet at the centre of the site where they form the Shuzheng Valley, flowing north to the mouth of the valley.
1. Fairy tale
It is said Biyondomin Roba the Demiurge had nine pretty and kind daughters, and one day they saw Snake Monsters poisoning the lakes and people died after drinking the water. They came down to the earth to help the people defeat the monsters, and after that they left to reconstruct their homeland with the people and married nine Tibetan young men. Their descendents formed nine tribes in nine villages, from which Jiuzhaigou took its name.
Here is a summary of the sites found in each of the vales.
2. Rize Valley
Rize Valley is the south-western branch of Jiuzhaigou Valley. Exploring this valley down the hills, you can pass through the following sites.
Grass Lake is a shallow lake covered with aquatic grass in the bottom of the lake.
Five Flower Lake is a shallow multi-colored lake crisscrossed by ancient fallen tree trunks in the bottom. It is the most beautiful lake in Jiuzhaigou.
Pearl Shoal is a wide, gently sloping area of active calcareous tufa deposition covered in a thin sheet of flowing water. It empties into the famous Pearl Waterfalls, where the shoal drops 28 m in a 310 m wide broad curtain of water.
Mirror Lake is a tranquil lake featuring beautiful reflections of the surroundings.
3. Zechawa Valley
Climbing to a higher altitude, Zechawa Valley is the south-eastern branch of Jiuzhaigou Valley. Exploring this valley down the hills, you can pass through the following sites.
Long Lake is the highest, largest and deepest lake in Jiuzhaigou Valley. It reportedly gets its water from snowmelt and loses it from seepage. It is said there is a monster in its depths in the local folklore.
The Seasonal Lakes can be divided to Lower, Middle and Upper lakes respectively. The lakes water level changes according the season, and sometime become empty in dry season.
4. Shuzheng Valley
The Shuzheng Valley is in the north of Jiuzhaigou Valley. It starts from the intersection of Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley, and ends at the mouth of the valley.
Nuorilang Falls, one of the symbols of Jiuzhaigou, locates near the junction of the valleys. The name of Nuorilang means magnificent and splendid in Tibetan language. They are reportedly the widest highland waterfall in China.
Nuorilang Lakes and Shuzheng Lakes are formed by the passage of glaciers and then are naturally dammed. They are stepped series of ribbon lakes, such as the Rhino Lake and Tiger Lake.
Sleeping Dragon Lake takes its name from the clearly visible dragon-like calcareous dyke lying on the bottom.
Reed Lake is a marsh covered with reed, with a clear turquoise brook zigzagging through it. The contrast is particularly obvious in the autumn when the reeds turn yellow and the brook turn deep blue.
1. Better to join a team to ensure the accommodation and safety.
2. Strenuous exercise and alcohol are not advised in mountainous area; however vegetables and fruits are better choice.
3. Old and sick ones are not advised going there; medicine most in use and oxygen cylinder is must when necessary.
4. No fire in the area.
5. Sun hat and sun block is advised to protect being burning.
6. Warm clothes are necessary in night and early morning, even in summer.
7. Better take shuttle bus to the end of Rize Valley or Shuzheng Valley first, and then explore the scenic spots downhill by foot on the boardwalks or by bus when the next site is too distant.
Best time to visit
Jiuzhaigou Valley is charming in spring, florid in summer, bright-colored in autumn and mysterious in winter. The peak of visitors occurs from early autumn, while October is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou. In late autumn, the leaves, appearing colors of golden yellow and flammable red, reflect in the lakes, making a wonderland in the earth. In winter, when the restaurants and hotels go out of business, Jiuzhaigou Valley becomes an untraversed tranquil vale, with lakes, falls and brooks freezing and covering with snow. It is a paradise for those preferring sedate and tranquil winter.