The multi-colored calcite pools of Sichuan's Huanglong National Park, neighbor to world-renowned Jiuzhaigou National Park, have no trouble rivaling the unique landscapes of their more well-known neighbor. What sets these pools apart from those in Jiuzhaigou and almost anywhere else in the world is the array of naturally occurring colors found in this collection of lakes and ponds. Huanglong's calcite pools include all the colors of the rainbow, with the most magnificent among them known as the 五彩池 (Wǔcǎi chí), or "Five-Colored Pool," in Chinese.
In addition to Huanglong National Park's colorful pools, the travertine falls in Huanglong Valley are a must-see. Formed by melted snow runoff mixing with limestone as it flows down the mountain terraces, the calcium carbonate in the water accumulates on the rocks, giving the water running down the slopes the appearance of a yellow dragon flying down the mountain. The name Huanglong (黄龙) actually means 'yellow dragon,' and the association of Huanglong's natural beauty with dragons, long a symbol of power and strength in Chinese culture, is a testament to the majesty of these falls. Together with the multi-colored pools, Huanglong National Park's waterfalls are among China's best kept secrets.
Along with the calcite pools and travertine falls that characterize the charm and uniqueness of Huanglong National Park, the untouched virgin forests of the park's Munigou valley are home to the endangered golden snub-nosed monkey and giant pandas, China's national treasure. Huanglong's primeval forests are a perfect place to see golden snub-nosed monkeys and easygoing giant pandas at home in their natural habitat.
Nowadays, Huanglong National Park's reputation as one of China's outstanding natural landscapes is growing. Each year, more and more tourists from China and the rest of the world come to this park in southwest China, hoping to both enjoy its imposing, majestic topography and to catch a glimpse of the winsome blond primates and their iconic black-and-white neighbors who call the park home. Covering an area of about 650 sq km (251 sq miles), Huanglong National Park is located in Songpan County, in northern Sichuan Province, only 394 km (244.8 miles) away from Chengdu.
When planning a visit to Huanglong National Park, besides the above-mentioned attractions, some other diversions worth visiting include Xuebaoding (the principal peak of the Minshan Mountains), the famous Huanglong Temple, and the imposing Danyun Gorge. For tourists looking to fully immerse themselves in Huanglong National Park's terrain, we recommend Windhorse Tour's 6-day horse-trekking tour. If something more laid-back is your style, you might consider a bus tour of both Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong National Parks.