Introducing Moon Canyon
Tucked in a hidden corner of southeastern Gānsù, the rushing rivers and towering rock walls of Moon Canyon (Yuèliàng Xiá; admission Y20) and the surrounding Three Beaches National Park (Sāntān Zìrán Bǎohùqū) is a rare corner of the Middle Kingdom that still has some pristine wilderness. The bad news is that the tranquillity of the valley is under threat from clumsy tourism development, so get here soon.
At the entrance to the valley is Moon Canyon Retreat (; Yuèliàng Xiá Dùjiàcūn;
Perhaps a better place to stay is two hours’ hike away, up to the village of Yánpíng (), where there are half a dozen homestays (nóngjiālè;; dm Y10), marked by tourism signs. Accommodation is basic but friendly, and local dishes are available. It’s a great base for hikes around the valley. There is one shop in the village, so bring some snacks.
For those with camping equipment, it’s a five-hour hike up to the Sān Tān (Three Beaches); one possible three-day trek is to the purported old growth forest (; yuánshǐ sēnlín) upstream. Jeeps ferry Chinese tourists up to the first pool (Y250 return) but not beyond.