Antelope Canyon of China - Ganquan Yucha Canyon

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Yu T. Lv. 8 Feb 5, 2019 6463/1
I have heard about a place in China that has similar landscapes of the Antelope Canyon in the United States by chance. It is Ganquan Yucha Canyon, located in Yan’an, Shaanxi province.

I particularly like landscape photography, and enjoy the wonders of the nature. It only took me less than half an hour from the moment I knew about this place when I decided to go there. There were only three trains from Beijing to Yan’an, so there weren’t too many tickets available, and it was even worse for me because the time I decided to go happened to be during the Qingming Festival, many people across the country travel during that time. I had to come up with another solution, and that was to take a train from from Tianjin to Yan’an instead. So, I was on my way to see this wonderful landscape that took hundreds of millions of years to form!

Just like any other trip during a public holiday, I chose to set off half day earlier. I went to Beijing South Railway Station to take the train to Tianjin after I left the office at noon, and then I transferred to the train to Yan’an. Not a minute was wasted, what a perfect start of an adventure!

Photo Highlights


Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Danxia landform, China

Danxia landform, China


Ganquan Yucha Canyon


Hundreds of millions of years ago, there was a heavy earthquake in northern Shaanxi, which caused a giant rift in between one of the mountains covered by loess, and the canyon gradually came into shape after hundreds of years of rainwash. This is the canyon in Ganquan as we know it today, which is 85 km away from the downtown of Yan’an. You need to drive to get there because there is no public transport.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


I arrived at Yan’an Station at 5:30 a.m., and then I contacted the employee of the car rental company from which I had already booked a car. I had to give credits to the employee of the car rental company who texted me to ask when I would arrive the night before. I replied that I would arrive around 5:30 a.m. There were three extra hours because the time for me to pick up the car was 8:00 a.m., so I was wondering how I should kill these three hours, and the employee said that they could give me the car in advance since the temperature was dropping, so he drove the car to me early in the morning. I really appreciated the hospitality.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


I had a simple breakfast after I got the car. Even though Yan’an was a small city, there were KFC and McDonald’s which opened at 6:00 a.m. After one and a half hour drive, I arrived at the entrance of the Grand Canyon of Yucha. It was before 8:00 a.m. when we arrived, so the ticket booth wasn’t even open yet. The attraction wasn’t fully operating yet. It probably shouldn’t be called an attraction, it still needed improvements. We drove past a lot of villages along the way, and the first impression we had was that the area was quite under developed. It was my first time in Shaanxi and my impression about it was the ubiquitous yellow soil, all of which just seemed barren.

The admission ticket was 50 RMB per person, and the charge was collected at the entrance to the village. It was not the kind of officially printed admission tickets but more like receipts. After passing the entrance, it was still approximately 30 km away to the Great Canyon, and the road conditions were extremely poor. All we saw was barren land as we entered Yucha Village, and there was sandy soil on both sides of the road. There were no crops growing on these lands either, and it looked bleak and nothing else. Only a clear and shallow creek was flowing quietly on this lonesome land. Slowly, the red rocks on the riverbank emerged and that was our inkling about Danxia landform. The photo above is a stone wall we drove past, and it looks similar to a human face when you look at its right side at a distance. There were so many things like this wall along the way and it was one of them. The uncanny workmanship of the nature is simply unbelievable.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


So far, there are only five attractions in the Ganquan Yucha Canyon which are known and open, and they are Huabaocha Canyon, Longbagou Canyon, Nanhe Canyon, Fenghuanggou Canyon, and Huashugou Canyon, which have different landforms and landscapes. We only visited two canyons due to the limited time we had, which were Longbagou Canyon, known as the longest canyon for its 2.5 km length, and the 800 m Huashugou Canyon. All photos of canyons were taken in these two.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


It felt quite spacious when we first walked into the canyon and it was wide enough for two or even more people to walk side-by-side. The rocks on both sides weren’t high and the bottom was flat. There weren’t too many tourists since it was less known and people here were basically all photographers. We talked with one of the photographers and he said that they were a big group of 100 people, and they were led to five different canyons respectively. I was impressed by how thoughtful their travel agency was; otherwise, it’d be a disaster if 100 people were all stuck in the same canyon.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


A giant vortex was swirling overhead as we looked up. Lights and shadows knitted a mesh cleverly and everything in it was dreamlike. The weather was not shiny since the temperature over the entire country was dropping, but there was still some light coming in. One of the staff there explained that blue light would appear because the walls were covered with mosses in summer and then there was a refraction effect. Blue light will undoubtedly make this place even more beautiful, but it only appears when the sun is directly above the canyon.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


The canyon kept narrowing as we went forward, and finally it only allowed one person at a time before it gradually widened and then narrowed again.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


The color of rocks here wasn’t too red, and the strips on them were the result of hundreds of years of flood wash. For that reason, the place would be flooded in case of heavy rain and the attraction would be temporarily closed. The photographer we met said that one of his friends was here and there was heavy rain, so he was forced to leave. I guess sometimes we just have to roll the dice. We know the canyons are also evolving. In fact, they would be completely different in another hundreds of years, or even they could be gone.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


This was the narrowest place, and our chubby friend had to sidle to get through.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

We needed to climb over, and nobody knew when this rock fell off.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


2.5 km was actually not that long, but it appeared to be extremely long in the canyon. When we got here, it was the end of Longbagou Canyon, and we continued our trip to Huashugou Canyon, which was the most beautiful one.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

We ran into several donkeys when we were out of the canyon.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


Huashugou Canyon looks even more similar to Antelope Canyon than Longbagou Canyon, and it has brighter colors. Because we got there when it was exactly at noon, it presented different views for visitors who came here at different times.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


I accidentally missed a step and stepped into water in Longbagou Canyon and my shoes were completely soaked. So I immediately rented a pair of rain boots in Huashugou Canyon. The price was 10 RMB, it was quite cheap.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


There are many curves on the stone walls on both sides and each of them looks carved and polished. They are smooth and sleek and look like one piece in spite of their different depths.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


The canyon is 800 m long, and you can finish the tour quite fast. I circled back and toured it again because I longed for more.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


The walls are beautifully curved and the lines are so elegant and smooth. Everything just seems so harmonious and natural.

Antelope Canyon of China: Ganquan Yucha Canyon


I couldn’t help but wonder how these hard and coarse rocks demonstrated such vivid gentleness as I traveled to these two canyons. They really offer you a taste of how miraculous the great nature is. Standing inside of this naturally formed magnificent landform, I felt as if I traveled back in time and I was plainly astonished and stunned. It is a heaven that every photographer pines for, because every bit of them remains in their very natural form. There isn’t any safety facility here, so just be cautious and use common sense. This trip to the canyons was a bit of an adventure. As we finished the tour, our trip for the day was officially over. Then we continued to drive to Jingbian, which is 200 km away, to appreciate the Danxia landform there in Longzhou.


Danxia Landform


Longzhou Danxia of Jingbian is also known as the “The Wave of China” and the “Fingerprints of the Earth”. The attraction is called the “Red Sandy Loess Hill” by the locals. It demonstrates a magical world shaped by wind and water for millions of years. Some parts look like flowing water, some like clouds, and some like a spinning top. It is indeed a unique geological park. The attraction is compared with The Wave in Arizona, United States, so it is called “The Wave of China”.

Danxia landform, China


Unfortunately, the weather on the day we visited was pretty bad and the wind speed was strong. The temperature felt like below zero. So we came back without actually touring the place after careful consideration, which made it the only pity throughout our trip, we didn’t take too many photos. The images above and below are Danxia on water. The wind felt like it was strong enough to almost blow people away.

Danxia landform, China

Danxia landform, China

Danxia landform, China

Danxia landform, China


We walked against the strong wind and went to one of the scenic spots. This photo was taken by my friend. Do I look like standing on the top of a chocolate crepe? :) This is a photo of a girl I noticed after I shot some scenic photos, everything felt so perfect, so I pressed the shutter.

Danxia landform, China

Danxia landform, China


The fine lines on the rocks reveal the process of sand dune formation. The changes of lines reflect the fact that the colors resulting from the mineral deposits have different shades due to different volumes of deposits in each layer of sandstone. The red color is mainly resulted from the oxidized iron and manganese.

Danxia landform, China


These colors form even more complicated and abstract patterns in places where they intersect, just like layers of waves.

Danxia landform, China


Although the two-day trip was short, our goals were clear, so we toured these two destinations casually. I have to say that Yan’an is not a place that makes you linger, but it is a heaven for photographers, so it might only attract photographers. At the moment, few people know about the region and what we visited merely makes a small fraction of it. I believe that most of it still remains mysterious and unknown. So, if I ever visit again, I would find a local and ask him or her to guide us, so that we can understand the place and its history in a more profound way.


This article contains 40 photos, has helped 6463 travellers to China