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Jade Dragon Snow Mountain


1. Some good hiking along the Yangtze River area.
2. Places to go for high-altitude walks on the southern and western sides with good scenery.
3. One of the world’s highest tram rides that goes to Glacier Park and a peak that has stairs to the summit.
4. It is close to the city of Lijiang.


The Jade Dragon Snow Mountains (玉龙雪山) are a small group of peaks close to the city of Lijiang. The nearest slope is only about 30 kilometers north of the Dayan Ancient City District, and the mountain can be clearly seen from the Black Dragon Pool next to the ancient district.

Scenery of Jade Dragon Snow MountainJade Dragon Snow Mountain is the biggest snow mountain in the southernmost of China.

The group of mountains is notable because they contain good hiking along Tiger Leaping Gorge, great scenic views, and a 15,000 foot mountain with a specially built stairway and path to make climbing to the summit easy. If you’d like to climb to the top of a high mountain, that might be one to try. There is no sliding on steep paths or climbing with your hands, the distance from the tram is short, and oxygen tanks can be rented for a little more than 4 dollars USD. But the view is excellent! The tallest peak called Shanzidou has only been climbed once by two Americans who say it is extremely dangerous. The Yangtze River runs through Tiger Leaping Gorge in the valley below. The mountains are a place to go to in Yunnan for fun in the snow in the winter and for hiking and enjoying the natural scenery the rest of the year.

Also read: Visit before It's Too Late: Seven Great Endangered Attractions in China (the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is included).

Detailed Descriptions

Shanzidou, the highest peak of Jade Dragon Snow MountainShanzidou is the highest peak of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

There are about ten peaks all together, and the group of mountains stretches about 35 kilometers from north to south. Shanzidou (扇子陡) is the highest peak and measures 5,596 meters or 18,355 feet tall. On the eastern side of the mountain is a deep valley where the Yangtze River runs. That is where the best and longest hiking trails are. The valley is on the far side of the mountain from the city. Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia) is in the northern part of this eastern valley. On the south side of the mountains, there is a town called Yuhucun that is only about 8 kilometers (about 5 miles) north of the ancient part of the city of Lijiang called Baisha Quarter. You can do some hiking up the mountain from Yuhucun or rent guided horses to ride, and there is no entry fee. However, the government prohibits or tries to discourage hiking off of designated park areas on much of the mountain, especially in the areas at higher altitude and the areas away from villages, and fires are strictly forbidden. The best hiking on the mountain is on the eastern side above the Yangtze River where there are good hiking trails with accommodations, and on the western side you can hike or climb at Glacier Park, Spruce Meadow and Yak Meadow.

Hiking and Scenic Areas

Southern and Eastern Sides of the Mountains

Hike Jade Dragon Snow MountainHike Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

There are hiking places on the southern and eastern side of Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain, but the best hiking is along the western side. On the southern side, people can walk around the village of Yuhucun and walk on paths and trails. You can also rent horses to ride.

People also go to three locations on the eastern side via trams. The trams go to Glacier Park, Spruce Meadow and Yak Meadow. The most popular tram goes to Glacier Park. It is one of the highest elevation trams in the world. The tram puts one at a big terminal building at an elevation of 4,506 meters or 14,757 feet. This is very high. It is higher than any of the Rocky Mountain peaks. It puts one at Glacier Park close to a glacier and a high peak that reaches an elevation of about 4,680 meters or 15,350 feet. People can walk around the area of the tram terminal building and play in the snow if there is snow. There is a specially constructed wooden platform that people can use to go up past the glacier to the nearby peak. People who are not used to this elevation may find this short climb to the peak difficult. Oxygen tanks are available for rent for about five dollars USD. People say that the view is spectacular. The cable car fee and a bus ride to the cable car cost about 170 RMB round trip.

Cable car to Glacier ParkCable car to Glacier Park, one of the second highest cable car in China.

The cable car to Glacier Park was built in 1999 by an European company called Leitner. It used to be China’s highest cable car. But recently one that goes about 300 meters higher was built in China. A cable car in Venezuela in South America also goes higher. During most of 2010, the tram may be closed.

Another tram goes to Yak Meadows that is at an elevation of about 3,650 meters (about 12,000 feet). It is the furthest lift from Lijiang, and it is also the least visited area. Farmers graze their yaks there, and there is a temple. It is a big area of grass near the high peaks. There are hiking trails there. The round trip ticket for the cable car is about 60 RMB. The further away from the tram, the fewer the people.

A third tram goes to Spruce (云杉) Meadows. There are fewer crowds of tourists. Spruce Meadow is at an elevation of about 3,200 meters.

Western Side with Tiger Leaping Gorge

The best hiking trails are on the western side of the mountains. The main trail is called the “high path.”  It is on the Haba Snow Mountain side of the Yangtze River. There used to be a “low path” that ran next to the Yangtze River, but that was turned into a road that is used by tour buses. In 2010, the road is closed for construction.

Related Reading

Top China Winter Destinations


The tallest peak called Shanzidou has been climbed only once. On May 8, 1987, the Americans Phil Peralta-Ramos and Eric Perlman climbed it. They said it is very dangerous to climb. They had to climb on ice and snow. Backpackers started to arrive in the 1980s, and the government promoted tourism in the 1990s.


The Yulong Snow Mountains are about 20 kilometers north from the center of Lijiang, and only about 11 kilometers north from the Baisha Quarter area. It is in northwestern Yunnan Province.

Touring Activities

1. Walk in the scenic areas.
2. Hike.
3. Walk on stairs to the top of a 4,680 meters or 15,350 feet high peak.
4. Try the local cuisine that features a lot of dairy and cattle products: yak steak, yak butter, yak milk tea, warm or hot yak milk, cheese, yoghurt, and yak steak. Yaks are related to cows and buffalos. Pali is a traditional bread. Sweet fried white cheese is delicious. Some yogurts come as blends with honey or fruit and can be made into fruit shakes. There is also traditional Naxi beer, and various kinds of teas.

Nearby Attractions

To experience some of the ancient traditions and culture, visit the higher altitude towns and villages. In the city of Lijiang, the Baisha Quarter and Shuhe Town retain more of the old Naxi architecture and customs.

The best hiking in the area is just west of Yulong Snow Mountain along the valley between Qiaotou, Walnut Grove and Daju on the Haba Snow Mountain side of the valley. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges on earth. There is a high path that goes the whole distance. There is a road below the path that follows the course of the Yangtze River.