The Rainbow Mountains are part of the Zhangye Danxia landform area, located in Zhangye city in Gansu Province of northwestern China. Popularly known as ‘the eye candy of Zhangye’, it is unbelievably colourful, just like an imaginative oil painting by a master painter. With its majestic table mountain terrain, odd-shaped cliffs and dramatically dynamic colours, it is a dream of the photographers. Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, extending for 410 square km in Linze and Sunan counties, is one of the most beautiful corners on the earth, which displays a unique type of petrographic geomorphology found in China.
The Rainbow Mountains were formed by the erosion of red sandstone, influenced by its special geologic framework and was shaped six million years ago. Due to thousands of years of freeze-thaw peeling, combined with long-term desert conditions and erosion by wind and rain, numerous isolated peaks and steep stone walls were formed and gave rise to its present appearance with difference in colour, texture, shape, size and pattern. It’s lots of precipitous red cliffs, most of which are several hundred meters high and the multicoloured ridges of weathered layers stretched towards the horizon. These unearthly formations, sometimes smooth and sometimes sharp, stand out against the greens or grays of the plains, looks grand and magnificent, majestic and vigorous.
The Rainbow Mountains in the Zhangye Danxia landform area are mainly composed of red gravel, sandstone and mudstone. Geologists believe that Danxia topography is formed by folding of layered oceanic crust. It’s exposed slanting rock layers have different colours, textures, shapes, sizes, and patterns. The combination of differences in density and erosion created the towering peaks, eroded caves, and multi-coloured slopes.
The psychedelic beauty of its numerous red rocky formations sometimes looks weird and resembles wonderful shapes like castles, cones and towers, humans, birds and beasts. Their peaks peeping through the veil of mist and clouds produce an illusion of enigmatic mountains and romantic pavilions.
Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park is divided into three parts. The Linze Danxia Scenic Area is equipped with four viewing platforms for capturing wonderful pictures. The Sunan Danxia Scenic Area is much bigger and offers the most beautiful scenery with fewer crowds. And the third one, the Binggou Danxia Scenic Area, is known as the ‘window lattice and palace-shaped Danxia topography’.
It is really hard to believe the existence of this insane mountain, popularly known as ‘the Rainbow Mountains’ for its multi-coloured formation. The unearthly beauty of the layers of its multi-colored sandstones, ranging from red, orange, green, yellow, blue, white, etc is extremely stunning, especially when the sun shines again after rain.