Huanglong 黄龙沟, Sichuan

Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, which is well known for its colourful lakes, snow clad mountains, valleys and virgin forest. It was included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1992.

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The scenic area is located in Songpan County, in the northwest part of Sichuan Province and encompasses the Huanglong and Muni Valley. The major scenery is concentrated in the 3.6-kilometer long Huanglong Valley that includes snow-clad peaks and the easternmost glaciers in China. Due to its layered calcium carbonated deposit patterns, the valley resembles a golden dragon winding its way through the virgin forest, stone mountains and glaciers.

Along the valley are scattering numerous colourful ponds of different sizes and shapes, which are strewn with gold coloured limestone deposit giving a shimmering golden hue to water, so in sunlight, a golden dragon seems to surge forth from the forest. Thus it was named Huanglong Valley or Yellow Dragon Valley.

Five Colour Pond (五彩池)

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The Five-Coloured Pond, at an altitude of 3576m, marks the head of the dragon that the travertine bank of Huanglong Valley is said to represent. As is the case in all of the above instances, this is not a single pond, but a collection of ponds, some larger and most quite small; Five-Coloured Pond is in fact made up of some 700 ponds, most of which are very tiny indeed. Its name derives from the fact that the deposited materials in the ponds come in five colour variations, a reflection of the fact that other minerals were being mixed, quite locally, with the travertine flow producing the different colors, but the color effects might also be partly due to light refraction, since the water in shallow parts of the ponds tends always to be of a jade-greenish hue.

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Azalea Pond (映彩池)

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Azalea Pond is also a sizable series of ponds, numbering some 400 very small, ponds that are surrounded by azaleas, which are common to Huanglong Valley. The valley is in fact a kaleidoscope of azaleas.

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