Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

Tianzi Mountain is in the northwestern part of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and it is close to Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve.
Tianzi means the son of heaven. Tianzi Mountain got the name from a story. During the Song Dynasty, Xiang Dakun, the leader of the Tujia ethnic group launched a revolution in name of Tianzi, the Son of Heaven from here and named himself Prince Xiang, the mountain later got the name in remembrance of Xiang Dakun who named himself the son of heaven.
According to historical and geographical research, this area was a vast ocean billions of years ago. After a long and complicated geological evolution process, the sedimentary rocks gradually formed the rare natural landscapes such as Imperial Writing Brush Peaks, Fairy Offering Flowers, Dianjiang Terrace and the Old House Field in Tianzi Mountain.

  1. Opening Hours
  2. Best Places to Visit
  3. Getting here from the City Center
  4. From the Entrances to Tianzi Mountain
  5. Internal Traffic -- Getting Around
  6. Dining and Accommodation
  7. Travel Tips and Reminders

Stone Pillar Forest in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve
Stone Pillar Forest in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

Open Hours

Tianzi Mountain Scenic Area opens from 7: 00 am to 6: 00 pm Monday to Sunday. The ticket of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park includes Tianzi Mountain and ticket is valid for four consecutive days. Therefore, traveler doesn't need to purchase an additional ticket to be able to visit Tianzi Mountain.

The cable car ride in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve
The cable car ride in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

Sightseeing Guide

Sea of clouds, sunset glow, rocky peaks and winter snow scene are the four most splendid sights to Tianzi Mountain. It has the reputations of "an expanded bonsai" and "an abbreviated fairyland". All that and more await tourists to explore.

Helong Park and Tianzi Pavilion are the two main attractions of Tianzi Mountain.

Helong Park is a garden that integrates together the nature and humanity in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the birth of Marshal He Long. The bronze statue of Marshal He Long standing on a stone at the entrance is the largest bronze statue in China for the past century. Walking along the outer path from the Helong Park, visitors can admire the spectacular sights of the West Sea Stone Forest, Imperial Writing Brush Peaks, and Fairy Offering Flowers. On the square behind Helong Park, there are a McDonald's restaurant and numerous food stalls providing good spaces for visitors to have rest and recharge themselves.

He Long Park
He Long Park in Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

On the other hand, Tianzi Pavilion is located on a flat ground which is 200 meters east of Helong Park. It is a six-story antique building with quadruple eaves. Tianzi Pavilion is not only a good place to learn Tujia culture and local customs. It occupies the highest point of the mountain and offers a broad vision. As soon as the visitor reaches the 5th floor of Tianzi Pavilion, he or she can have a 360-degree panoramic view of Tianzi Mountain.

"An expanded Bonsai" is the best phrase to describe the West Sea Stone Forest Scenic Spot, which is located in Shentang Bay. The dense stone peaks are clustered so marvelously and their shapes all look different: some stand up like millions of swords; some look like armed forces ready to go; some look like bamboo shoots after the rain pointing to the sky. No word can describe how gorgeous the landscape here is.

The Imperial Writing Brush Peak is probably the most representative spot in the Stone Forest of the West Sea. On three undulating mountains standing together dozens of prismatic stone pillars with each to be roughly 100 meters tall. The top of the stone pillar is so sharp as to be cut by a knife. According to an ancient Chinese legend of Song Dynasty, these sharp peaks were actually the "imperial writing brushes" abandoned by Prince Xiang after he met his waterloo. Glittering under the sun or flickering in rising clouds, the Imperial Brush Peak is ever-changing, and it is such a wonder.

imperial writing brush peaks
the Imperial Writing Brush Peaks

Tianzi Mountain is convenient to go. Since the main attractions are almost concentrated in one area, it doesn't require complicated transportation arrangements and it doesn't take much physical strength to travel around.

The tour time for Tianzi Mountain is preferably 3-4 hours.

Getting here from the Downtown

The north entrance of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, also known as Tianzi Mountain Ticket Station is the closest to Tianzi Mountain Scenic Area, but farthest from Zhangjiajie city center. The scheduled bus from Zhangjiajie downtown to Tianzi Mountain Ticket Station takes about 2 hours by way of the back mountain. Tianzi Mountain Ticket Station has free environmentally friendly shuttle buses going directly to the Sanchakou Parking Lot on the mountaintop, this way, visitors don't have to pay to ride the cable car to go uphill. However, due to convenience, most of the tourists would choose to take the bus from Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station and ride roughly 40 to 60 minutes to go to the south entrance or go to the east entrance and to enter the park.

Zhangjiajie Bus Station
Picture of Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station

Internal Traffic -- from the Entrances to Tianzi Mountain

From the north, the south and the southeast entrances of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, visitors can take the free sightseeing shuttle bus (every 5 minutes) to go to Tianzi Mountain cable car lower station, and then pay CNY 72 Yuan per person to take the cable car which can accommodate 6 people each to go to the top of the mountain. Tianzi Mountain cableway is 2,084 meters long, with the height difference of 692 meters. The speed is 5 meters per second and it takes about 8 minutes to go for one way journey. It can be a comfortable experience since the cable moves so gently. Besides saving time and physical energy, cable cars can offer multiple angles to tourists to enjoy the beauty of Tianzi Mountain along the way.

To go to Tianzi Mountain, another way is to take the free sightseeing bus to the Ten-Mile Gallery from the South Entrance or so called Forest Park Ticket Station firstly and then walk about 3 kilometers from there to the entrance of Tianzi Mountain and then walk for another hour to reach Tianzi Pavilion.

The free sightseeing shuttle bus running inside Tianzi Mountain Scenic Area has stops of Helong Park, Shenyang Bay, Dianjiang Terrace, the West Sea Peak Stone Forest and so on.

People who are strong enough can spend 2-3 hours to walk uphill. Although it is exhausting to walk through the stone path, the stunning scenery along the way is worth all the efforts. The fresh air with high concentrations of negative oxygen ions in the mountain can also make people refreshed. However, hikers are advised to wear hiking shoes, use walking sticks and have enough water throughout the journey.

Tianzi Mountain Cable Car
The cable car line in Tianzi Mountain

Internal Traffic -- Getting Around

The loop road of Tianzi Mountain is more than 40 kilometers long. Tourists can walk or take the free sightseeing shuttle bus to explore the scenic area.
Free sightseeing shuttle bus can also be relied on to travel among different scenic areas inside Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. For instance, it takes 40 minutes to travel from Yuanjiajie to Tianzi Mountain and vice versa with the sightseeing bus . Since the mountain road is bumpy, visitors who have carsickness should be cautious and be prepared.

Dining and Accommodation

There are restaurants, canteens and McDonald's on the top of the mountain to provide meals, snacks, drinks and etc. However, hotels and farmhouses have been relocated from the mountaintop to the towns sitting at the foot of the mountain, so it's no longer possible for travelers to stay overnight on the mountain now.

Travel Tips and Reminders

  1. As An old Chinese saying describes "It is easy to go uphill but difficult to go downhill". When walking downhill, the pressure on the knees is much greater than going uphill, so travelers are recommended to use the cable car for the return journey.
  2. It is better if you can stay close to the scenic area for one night and come back to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park the next day. This makes the entire trip easier and visitors can possibly watch the marvelous sunrise early in the morning. To take spectacular sunrise photos, it is better to do it with a camera instead of the phone or laptop. According to our experience, the mobile phones can't take awesome photos of the sunrise at all.
  3. To get better travel experience, travelers are advised to come before the peak hours.
  4. Since It has strong wind at the observation decks, visitors are advised to bring extra clothes with them in whatever time just in case.

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