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Jiuzhaigou National Park is a nature reserve in the north of Sichuan, a province in south western China. It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes.Stretching over the northern part of Sichuan as a jagged alpine valley, Jiuzhaigou offers a spectacular landscape with the composition of turquoise waters, bouncing streams, flying waterfalls and lush forest surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Its nickname is "Jiuzhai Paradise". The remoteness doesn't prevent it from becoming a hot tourist destination.
Jiuzhaigou Valley is a good place for hiking. The followings give a brief introduction about four major hiking lines in the valley.
The Shuzheng Valley is the northern and branch of Jiuzhaigou. It ends after 14.5 km (9 mi) at the Y-shaped intersection of the three gullies. Going downhill from the intersection to the mouth of the valley, visitors encounter the following attractions. They are Nuorilang Falls, Nuorilang Lakes, Shuzheng Lakes, Rhinoceros Lake, Tiger Lake, Sleeping Dragon Lake, and Reed Lake. These attractions are intensive. It is good to travel on foot instead of taking bus.
The mouth of the valley is the first station and the Jiuzhaigou administration and station are set here. You need to buy tickets and bus tickets here and then go to the Jiuzhaihou from here. In the busy season, you will fine that people stand in a lone queue waiting to buy tickets. If you don not want to waste time on queuing for tickets, you should get up early to buy tickets. The mouth of Shuzheng Valley, with a height of 1900 meters, is the gate of Jiuzhaigou Valley. The topography of valley mouth is relatively low-lying and there is a lotic stream in front of it. You can buy admission ticket at the valley mouth. After you enter the gate, you walk along a five-kilometer asphalt road. With the lotic stream, you can get to the Lotus Leaf Village. From Lotus Leaf Village, you will successively encounter bonsai beach, Reed Lake, Double Dragon Lake, Fire Lake, Sleeping Dragon Lake, Shuzheng Lakes, Shuzheng Fall, Shuzheng Village, and Rhinoceros Lake and so on. After pass Rhinoceros Lake, you continue to walk a long way to the end of the Shuzheng Valley where you can fine the biggest gathering place for visitors—Nuotilang. Go head from Nuorilang and turn right, you can get to the Rize Valley. If you turn left, you can get to the Zechawa Valley.
The 18 km (11 mi) long Rize Valley is the south-western branch of Jiuzhaigou. It is the right side of the Y shape. It contains the largest variety of sites. Going downhill from its highest point, you will pass the following sites: The Primeval Forest, Swan Lake, Grass Lake, Arrow Bamboo Lake, Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake, Pearl Shoal, Mirror Lake, Nuotilang Lake, Nuorilang Falls. From the Primeval Forest to Nuotilang, this traveling line is the best among all the lines. The scenery in Rize Valley is very beautiful but the weather changes frequently. When traveling around Rize Valley, most visitors take a traveling bus to the Primeval Forest, and then hike from up to down, and finally get to the Mirror Lake. When you get to the Mirror Lake, you can enjoy the beautiful reflection scenery in the lake. The best time to take photos of the reelection scenery is before 9:00 am and at 16:00 pm.
The Zechawa Gully is the south-eastern branch of Jiuzhaigou. It is left side of the Y shape. It is approximately the same length as Rize gully (18 km) but climbs to a higher altitude (3150 m at the Long Lake). Going downhill from its highest point, it features the following sites: Long Lake, Five-Color Pond, and the Seasonal Lakes. Reportedly, Long Lake has no outgoing waterways, getting its water from snowmelt and losing it from seepage. Local folklore features a monster in its depths. Five-Color Pond is one of the smallest but most spectacular bodies of water in Jiuzhaigou lakes. Despite its very modest dimensions and depth, it has a richly colored underwater landscape with some of the brightest and clearest waters in the area.
The Zharu Valley runs southeast from the main Shuzheng gully and is rarely visited by tourists. The valley begins at the Zharu Buddhist monastery and ends at the Red, Black, and Daling lakes. It is the fourth hiking line. This is a human culture traveling line. You not only can enjoy the idyllic scenery of Tibetan area, but also can enjoy the Tibetan folk customs. On lunar 15, the Tibetans go to the Lama Temple in Jiuzhaigou Valley, and they must pass through the Zharu Pack way. At this day, the Zharu Packway is full of people.
Zharu Valley is the home of eco-tourisminJiuzhaigou. The valley has recently been opened to a small number of eco-tourists wishing to go hiking and camping off the beaten track. Visitors can choose from day walks and multiple day hikes, depending on their time availability.