Yuanmou Earth Forest Scenic Area is found in Yuanmou County, Yuxi City, Yunnan Province, China, and is one of the world's largest distributions of earth forest landforms.
Earth forests are created by Cretaceous sedimentary rocks and weathering effects, often referred to as "forests on the ground." Yuanmou Earth Forest is one of the famous "Four Forests" of Yunnan (Earth Forest, Sand Forest, Stone Forest, and Tropical Rainforest), combining simplicity, and awe, making it a natural wonder not only in China but also in the world.
The forms of the earth forest are diverse, resembling majestic temples, formidable watchtowers, grand towering pagodas, and opulent castles and palaces. Each step offers a new discovery and a surprising experience.
Stepping into the earth forest, the various shapes make you feel like entering a new and wondrous world. Some earth columns resemble sharp swords, pointing straight at the blue sky; some are like solemn warriors, ready for action; some resemble graceful young girls gazing into the distance; some earth columns are covered with weeds, occasionally adorned with wildflowers; some are made of stacked sand and stones. Of course, various forms of earth columns are interspersed, creating a rich and colourful, ever-changing spectacle that is truly breathtaking.
Being there is like stepping into a primitive and ancient world, yet upon closer examination, you are captivated by the unique natural scenery. The layers of earth in the earth forest are not all a single colour; they change with the light, displaying rich tones of red, green, purple, white and grey. During sunrise or sunset, when the golden sunlight hits the side of the earth forest, intense colours of gold and crimson are instantly ignited, creating an extremely dazzling scene.
As you walk in for a closer look, you'll find that these earth forests are mainly composed of sand and clay particles. According to scientific research, there are abundant fossils of plants and animals, such as giant oak silicified wood, saber-toothed elephants, Chinese rhinoceros, and saber-toothed tigers, dating back two million years to the early Quaternary period. The sand and clay contain a small amount of calcium cementation, occasionally mixed with iron compounds.
Due to the constant absorption and expansion of water and subsequent loss and shrinkage over the course of countless years, the ground has cracked. In addition, rainwater erosion and flow through the cracks have gradually deepened, widened, and lengthened them. Earth columns gradually emerge, grow taller, and thus form the earth forest. Some earth columns are mixed with quartz, agate, and others, which, when exposed to sunlight, emit a strange radiance.
Yuanmou Earth Forest is located within Yuanmou County, around 12 to 38 kilometres from the county town. Yuanmou boasts a total of 13 earth forests, covering an area of 42.9 square kilometres, approximately one-fifth of the total land area of the county. It is a rare earth forest group both domestically and internationally.
Another stunning landscape can be found in Langbapu Earth Forest, located around 50 kilometres from Yuanmou County. Langbapu Earth Forest is also a Grade 3A national tourist attraction, covering an area of approximately 12 square kilometres. Here, the earth columns are tall and densely packed, displaying a rich array of colors, creating a magnificent sight.
In terms of shape, they are mainly cone and cluster-shaped, and snow peak-shaped. In terms of colour, the tops are primarily purplish-red, the upper-middle parts are grey, and the lower-middle parts are predominantly yellow. The tallest earth column reaches up to 28 metres.
Langbapu Earth Forest is referred to as the "Photography Golden Triangle," offering breathtaking sunrise views. The magical and spectacular scenery allows everyone to capture exceptional works of art by snapping photos within the earth forest.
Yuanmou County, Chouxiong City, Yunnan Province, China
- From Kunming, Yunnan, you can take a bus, train, or high-speed train to Yuanmou County and then transfer to transportation heading to the earth forest, or you can drive there.
- Yuanmou County has three earth forests: Wumao Earth Forest is developed earlier with well-established facilities, suitable for guests seeking convenience; Langbapu Earth Forest is the largest and developed later, preserving its pristine beauty and perfect for photography and hiking enthusiasts; and Banguo Earth Forest is undeveloped and recommended for self-driving and adventure, but it's not recommended to visit without suitable planning and arrangements.
- It's advisable to avoid visiting the scenic area at night as there are limited signs, which could mean you get lost.