The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, part of the Yulong Mountains is categorized as the southernmost snow mountain of the Northern Hemisphere. Yulong Snow Mountains is a site that attracts visitors to Lijiang City and consists of 13 peaks with Shanzidou being the highest measuring at about 5596 meters above sea level.
This mountain range stems a length of 35 kilometers from south to north and 15 kilometers from east to west. The fog shrouded and snowy mountain resembles a massive jade dragon when viewed from the Old Town of Lijiang, hence its Jade Dragon Snow Mountain moniker. Yulong Snow Mountain is also known as White and Black Mountain as the mountain primarily consists of black whinstone and white limestone.
The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is regarded by the Naxi people as a holy mountain. In Naxi mythical legend, the mountain is the sole personification of their god, Sanduo. Blessed with native landscapes of cold, temperate and subtropical zones, the mountain has meadows, canyons, glaciers, blossoms, waterfalls etc. Quite a few rare plants and animals call the mountain home. The Yulong Snow Mountain scenic area was approved as a national 5A-class scenic location by the National Tourism Administration back in 2007.
What to Expect in Jade Dragon Snow Mountain?
Attractions that are sure to garner attention when visiting the Yulong Snow Mountain scenic area consist of Ganhaizi Meadow, Glacier Park, Yak Meadow, Spruce Meadow, Blue Moon Valley and many more. Visitors are able to either rent a horse or walk from Yak Meadow to Ganhaizi. There are also 3 cableways available in the scenic area, all located at Yak Meadow, Spruce Meadow and Glacier Park.
Called Ban Nong Guo in the Naxi ethnic language to mean mysterious and beautiful paradise, Yak Meadow in the summer is transformed into a peaceful and beautiful scenery, which is dotted by yaks and blossoms. The 13 peaks of the Yulong Snow Mountain can be seen from Yak Meadow.
Glacier Park is found on the Shanzidou Peak which houses 19 oceanic glaciers, cirque glaciers, and hanging glaciers. The most visited glacier is White Water Number 1. It resembles a hanging waterfall from the sky when viewed from the bottom of the peak. There is an iceberg forest which seems like sky piercing knives. Also, there are fragments of glaciations such as Ganheba Valley, which has a landscape that is typically seen at the foot of the Alps.
Spruce Meadow is elevated 3240 meters above sea level on the eastern hills of the Yulong Snow Mountain. The Naxi see it as a holy land and their legends claim it is an entrance to Yulong Third Country. This is thought to be Utopia. A second legend states that should a young couple commit suicide at Spruce Meadow, their spirits get transported to the Third Country of Yulong, where they achieve eternal happiness. This meadow is the site of a live show called Impression Lijiang, which is directed by the director of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games.
As the entrance to Yulong Snow Mountain, Ganhaizi is the name given to the huge grassland located on the eastern side of the Yulong Snow Mountain. The meadow is situated at 2900 meters above sea level, with a length of 4 kilometers and a width of 1.5 kilometers. As a natural pasture, Ganhaizi sees herders of Naxi, Tibet and Yi ethnic groups on horseback converge on it in the spring with their felt hats, grazing their cattle, sheep, and yaks.
In between Spruce Meadow and Ganhaizi is the Blue Moon Valley which is a deep valley. Running along the bottom is the White River which cascades into numerous calcified pools. White River got its name from the color of its river bed which consists of white marbles. As unpolluted glaciers are the source of the river’s water, it makes great cool drinking water.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain’s 3 Cable ways
Located in this scenic area are three cable ways which run to Yak Meadow, Spruce Meadow, and Glacier Park.
Glacier Park Cableway
This cable way is the most famous cable way of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and is also the second most elevated cable car in the country. The cable way is able to transport visitors up to Glacier Park to view the glacier and its environs. There are stairs that still need to be climbed by visitors should they want to reach a higher altitude, as soon as they exit the cable cars. The climb is short but somewhat difficult, but visitors are rewarded by a beautiful panoramic scene at 4,680 meters above sea level. This cable car has an elevation range of 3,356 meters to 4,506 meters, which is 11,010 feet to 14,783 feet. There is a 180 Yuan fee incurred for using the cable way, which covers a round trip.
Cableway to Spruce Meadow
Spruce Meadow has an elevation of 3240 meters which is 10630 feet. It gets its name from the fact that it is encircled by lofty spruces. Visitors to this meadow have to go through ancient woods which then open to a beautiful and peaceful scenery. The elevation range of this cableway is from 2938 meters to 3205 meters which measure about 9639 feet to 10515 feet. A roundtrip on the cableway costs 55 Yuan.
Cableway to Yak Meadow
This cable way is one that is farthest away from Lijiang, making Yak Meadow the least visited meadow. Yak Meadow, located at 3650 meters or 11975 feet above sea level is a grassy area close to the high peaks. Visitors who choose to take the cable way are treated to beautiful views of not only snow-capped mountains but a highland grassland full of grazing yak. Yak Meadow has at its lowest elevation a height of 3280 meters /10433 feet and at its highest 3650 meters /11975 feet. A round trip on this cable way costs 60 RMB.
The Best Time to Visit
Between November and April are the best times to head to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, as by this time enough snow would have built up and clear skies are more abundant aiding great sights of the white-capped mountain.