Zhāngyē Dānxiá National Geopark

National Park in Zhangye

Image by Brendan van Son Getty Images

The swirling orange, yellow, white and brown lunar landscape of this national park is the result of sandstone and mineral deposits that have eroded into odd shapes over the course of millennia. These 'rainbow mountains' have been quietly drawing photographers for the last few years.

Infrastructure was installed inside the park after it was named a national geopark in 2011, making it – for better or worse – very accessible to tourists. Wooden stairs and platforms allow visitors to reach the tops of the hills without damaging the delicate landscape and offer stunning views over the coloured strata.

The park opens early for a reason: the best time to visit (and photograph) this magnificent landscape is at sunrise on a clear day. From Zhāngyè, a taxi to both Mǎtí Sì and Dānxiá will cost around ¥350, or a taxi here only about ¥150. Once here, a hop-on, hop-off bus shuttles visitors to various stops inside the park, and you are welcome to take your time at the various scenic platforms.