The northwestern tip of the province is centred on the handsome town of Chìshuǐ (赤水), which hugs the eponymous red-running river famed for its role in the salt trade. While the town proper is easily walked in an afternoon, just outside town are deep gorges and valleys flanked by towering cliffs hewn out of red sandstone – a World Heritage–listed feature known as dānxiá – and a profusion of waterfalls, as well as luxuriant bamboo and fern forests that date to the Jurassic era. Exploring this region will keep nature lovers busy for days.
The town sits on the east bank of the Chìshuǐ River (Chìshuǐ Hé). Cross the town’s main bridge (Chìshuǐ Dàqiáo) to the other side and you’re in Jiǔzhī (九支) in Sìchuān. The river was the site of many fabled crossings by the Red Army.