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Yuntai Mountain Geo Park

Yuntai Mountain Geo Park

Following our first day in Luoyang where we drove to the town of Dengfeng to take in the fabled Shaolin Temple, our second day involved a little less kung fu and a lot more hiking.

After a day of exploration and despite only seeing a fraction of Yuntai Mountain (云台山)’s 13 main sights, I came away from the day understanding why China rates it a AAAAA (highest rating) scenic area.   You typically don’t think that China has any national parks (usually called geo parks here) but in fact there is some incredible beauty to be taken in.  From picturesque lush green covered peaks to dramatic stone gorges and pounding waterfalls, Yuntai Mountain’s various scenic points make it a worthy addition to your exploration of the Xi’an and Luoyang region of China.

Our guide Lisa, told us that she’s surprised we even knew about this place as most foreigners never inqurie about Yuntai Shan (Shan in Chinese is Mountain).  While that doesn’t mean the crowds will be any thinner, it’s nice to go off the beaten path a little when it comes to exploring the country and see some of China’s natural beauty.

A Day at Yuntai Shan in Photos

Shaolin Kung Fu Students Early Morning Exercise

One of the early treats of waking up at 6AM in the morning to drive to Yuntai Mountain was being able to watch these Shaolin kung fu students start their morning exercise routines.

Shaolin Kung Fu School Kids Doing Cartwheels

We eventually got out of our van and watched the kids do their cartwheel training. It’s insane how fit they are and how they do all of this on the bare concrete.

Yuntai Mountain Park Entrance

The grand entrance to Yuntain Mountain.

Yuntai Mountain Rock Sign

If you don’t know yet, Chinese people love taking photos with their plaques and signages. We fit right in.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Topside View

The first stop for us was Red Stone Gorge. From the top you can get these postcard views of both the sandstone cliff walls, the scurrying of tourists along the man-made path and the waterfalls.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Descent Path

This is a look at the path we had to take that allowed us to slowly descend to the entrance of the gorge.

Yuntai Mountain Windy Stone Gorge Path

After slowly making our way down, we eventually enter into the mouth of the gorge and while clearly artificial, this led to this winding path along the cliff wall.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Bridge

It was definitely interesting to see the red sandstone rock formations here in China. I’ve seen similar in areas like Utah in the US but for some reason didn’t think this existed out here.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Windy Man Made Path

A look back at the windy path through the gorge.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Opening

That winding path eventually leads to this opening.

Yuntai Mountain Tanpu Gorge Fresh Spring Water

Freshly tapped spring water was refreshing and perfect for the refilling of our water bottles.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Walkways

It’s incredible the kind of infrastructure China has to put in place to open up a park like this.

Yuntai Mountain Red Stone Gorge Stone Bridge

The highlight to the hike was definitely this part of the gorge where it opens up to this supposedly natural stone bridge. As you can imagine there was a bit of a traffic jam here as people tried to get photos of their friends or family from this exact spot.

Yuntai Mountain Rocky Views

Don’t forget to lift your head up here because the mountain scenery is absolutely stunning.

Xiaozhai Valley Square View of the Mountains

The towering mountains that loom over the Xiaozhai Valley square where you can find shops for souvenirs, restaurants and even a fast food chain restaurant Dicos.

Tanpu Gorge Xiaozhai Valley Gate Entrance

Gate entrance into Xiaozhai Valley.

Tanpu Gorge Xiaozhai Valley Y-Shaped Waterfall

Small y-shaped waterfall. They give names to just about everything in China.

Aviation e-Home Inn Front Entrance

After a good 3 hour drive we finally make it to Luoyang where we stay for the night. This is the Aviation e-Home Inn.

Aviation e-Home Inn Room

After a disastrous hotel in Dengfeng, we’re much happier with our hotel in Luoyang

Luoyang Local Potsticker Restaurant

For dinner, our guide Lisa recommended this local pot-sticker place around the corner. It’s one of the most popular restaurants in town and for good reason. There were loads of people standing in line for the potstickers because it only cost 12 RMB per plate!

Plate Of Potstickers

Our plate of potstickers.

Luoyang Local Kids Learning Rollerblading

Local kids coming out to public squares to learn rollerblading.

Luoyang Local Square Waltzing

As we walked home we stumbled upon this square which must’ve had at least a hundred people waltzing to old Chinese music blasting out of this one massive speaker. Incredible sense of community here!

Lost in Translation

I always have a good chuckle when I see translations gone wrong or just things that you’d never see anywhere outside of China.  Here’s are three that I spotted at Yuntai Mountain.

Just stop...

Just stop…

2015-04-20 Yuntaishan-085

Being the thrifty bunch, yes I can actually say that there were a lot of people that brought their own fruit to eat while hiking. So yes, there are a lot of fruit skins to be collected!

Chinese sign don't climb mountain thanks

The most friendly sign post ever. Canadian worthy!

2015-04-20 Yuntaishan-095

I don’t know why I found this amusing but it’s probably the exclamation point that did it for me. We sadly did not encounter any crazy monkeys.

Know Before You Go

  • 云台山 in Chinese
  • Price:
    • Entrance to the park during high season (Mar-Nov) – 150 RMB
    • Entrance during low season (Dec – Feb) – 75 RMB
    • Bus transportation – 60 RMB
    • My guide was not able to get student pricing with my student card
      Yuntai Mountain Ticket Desk
  • Hours:  8AM – 6:30PM
  • The pass is good for 2 consecutive days
  • Like anywhere else in China, avoid coming here on major Chinese holidays and if possible try coming here during the weekday.
  • If you’re looking to maximize on your time here, think about staying at one of the hotels in the park (expensive) or guest houses run by locals (cheap but most likely poor conditions)
  • Toilet conditions:  The park is actually quite well set up and so you’ll find toilet facilities at the main entrance and entrances to the main sights.  There’s usually one handicap toilet if you prefer not to squat so look out for those.  And as always, make sure you bring your own pack of tissues or toilet paper.
  • Food options:  There are a few villages set up for tourists to buy souvenirs and food.  If you’re tight on time like we were, you can find food options at the entrance to Tanpu Gorge (Xiaozhai Valley).  Food isn’t the greatest but you can have your pick of buffet, family run restaurants (more like diners), and a fast food restaurant Dicos (China’s copy of KFC).
  • Hotel check in: In China, both a passport needs to be shown at check-in and a deposit paid for the room.  The deposit for one room at the Aviation e-Home Inn was 200 RMB so make sure you have enough for that as well.

Itinerary Snapshot

  • Early morning departure from Dengfeng
  • Not many breakfast options in the city so we grabbed some snacks at a highway pitstop
  • 2.5 hour drive to Yuntai Mountain
  • Red Stone Gorge hike
  • Xiaozhai Valley for a quick lunch
  • (Tanpu Gorge) Xiaozhai Valley hike
  • 3 hour drive to Luoyang
  • Dinner at a local pot-sticker restaurant
  • Accommodations:  Aviation e-Home Inn

For more on the rest of this trip throughout China where I start in Shanghai and work my way up to Xi’an see the full itinerary as I journey to see the Terracotta Warriors.

About Will Tang

Will is a travel blogger writing for Going Awesome Places. Since quitting his consulting job in 2012 he's been travelling the world and along the way writing about his epic adventures and taking amazing photos. His true passion lies in telling stories, inspiring others to travel, writing detailed trip itineraries for others to follow and providing helpful tips and tricks to travel better. Also the founder behind Travel Blog Breakthrough and freelance writer for Hipmunk and currently working on the #‎HipmunkCityLove Project.


  1. Thanks for sharing your photos! They’re amazing! Will definitely put this in my list
    Passport Out- Will recently posted…Top Side Trips from Tokyo (Part 1) : KawagoeMy Profile

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