Two Gorgeous Scenic Reserves: Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong in China

It was a very long drive, over 2-1/2 hours from Jiuzhaigou to Huanglong, up and over mountains. Huanglong is a string of lakes and small ponds in a calcified valley with thick alpine forests. Already, I was not happy. The thought of driving this distance just to see another park was leaving me cold and I was busy muttering in the back seat to ex-Marine…”Can you believe we have to drive all this way…and then turn around and drive the same road back through the mountains…yadda…yadda…” At long last there, Huanglong seemed less busy than Jiuzhougou. Probably because there were very few tour buses in the parking lot at this early hour.

Again, there was a big visitor’s center at the entrance of Huanglong again in the Minshan range, another UNESCO site…View image… The highest peak Xuebaoding would have been visible on a clear day but today was cool and overcast. Wang-Lee decided to take us in to the park today, and left Yonten in the parking lot with the car. There were no buses into Huanglong – you had to walk in…and up…or so we thought. Fortunately, ex-Marine and I had absolutely no inkling of the altitude here.

Huanglong park entrance, China

Wang-Lee bought the tickets and set out at a fast pace up the boardwalk through the park, us huffing and puffing behind. Even now and then, he’d stop, sit and wait for us at one of the vivid turquoise lakes. There were maples, wildflowers, rhododendrons (weren’t flowering at this time)…a gorgeous park. Past some lakes, Wang Lee stopped and said one of his few words…”done?” We said, no, let’s keep going up even though I could hear my heart pounding away. Again, there were signs along the way indicating distance to next sight and meters…but we could never decipher whether the meters shown was the altitude or distance…

multi-colored Mirror Pools in Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

Up the mountain or down the mountain? Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

Busy workers were everywhere, sweeping off the stone paths and boardwalks…god forbid a stray leaf should mar the beauty… Do you think they would have gotten fined by the Government?

keeping the trails immaculate in Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

forests of Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

….still panting and gasping for breath… Buddhist Pagoda Temples came into view…a small replica of the demolished Middle Temple…

sign for the Middle Temple, Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

small Temple in Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

..followed by the big Yuwang Monastery at the top….with two beautifully painted panels inside…View image

Yuwang Monastery/Temple in Huanglong, China

inside the Temple courtyard at Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

There were more tourists paying to dress up in Tibetan outfits here, and now we found out why neither of us could breathe. It was 3,190m/10,465′ at bottom, 4,200m/13,800′ at the top, 1:40 up, 1:05 down, no wonder. AND, we also found out why we saw so many Chinese tourists coming DOWN! There was a gondola you could take almost to the top… Even knowing about the gondola wouldn’t have made a difference to ex-Marine (who still has it) or myself. We were very proud of ourselves…

another view of the Yuwang Monastery/Temple from the back, Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

Sheila and Wang-Lee in Huanglong Scenic Reserve, China

Time to go down…

With so many Eurail passes to choose from, which one is right for you?

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