Even though the gap between humanity and nature is expanding, many of us still want to experience the natural world. On the weekends we can visit a beautiful outdoor location with several good friends, go camping, smell the fragrance of soil mixed with grass, and then experience the strong feeling that we are getting closer to nature.
1. Soul Mountain
Lingshan is the tallest peak in Beijing, with an altitude of 2,303 meters. Located only 122 kilometers from the capital city of Beijing, this mountain is characterized by its beautiful scenery and cool weather in summer. For this reason it is a good place worth visiting for a summer vacation to avoid the heat and for relaxing.
Lingshan is ecologically diverse in wild flowers and is home to a special grass which grows on its peak; it also has many wild animals. To get to the top you can take the cable car which takes 25 minutes. The iron rope used for the cable car is 1,548 meters long while the height is 430 meters. Lingshan is no doubt the highest peak in Beijing and is praised for its fantastic scenery and amazing landscape.
As Lingshan was a Great Wall battle site, there are still remnants from this, such as the brick wall and beacon tower. At the top of Lingshan, there is a wide open space where you can go camping. In the tourist district, you can see not only the old mortars but also the wells where clean spring water runs throughout the whole year.
Attention: As the top of the mountain is colder than the city, tourists should wear long shirts in summer and take an umbrella. In other seasons you should wear thick, warm clothes.
Address:The north-west of Qingshui Town, Mentougou District, Beijing. 北京门头沟区清水镇西北
Access: Take the 336 or 326 public bus to the He Tan long-term stop, or change to the 929 direct bus.
2. The Xiangshui Lake Scenic Area
The Xiangshui Lake Scenic Area is located to the east of Dazhengu Village, Bohai Town, which is near the western portion of the Huairoutiangu Great Wall. This beautiful lake combines the Great Wall, an old cave, the peak, a spring, and a waterfall together. The main places of interest are in a valley where a Ming Dynasty fortress was built, surrounded by rocky mountain peaks. The spring that runs out of the top of the mountain leads to a 50-meter-high waterfall. The lake's name originates from the noise of the spring water splashing on the rocks, which can be heard nearly 1,000 meters away. The spring here is the largest in Huairou, which supplies all of the residents.
There is a small valley in the tour area where you can find the spring. You can camp near the back of the Mutianyu Great Wall if you make early reservations.
Address: The east of Dazhengu Village, Bohai Town, Huairou District, Beijing. 北京市怀柔区渤海镇大榛峪村东
Access: Get on the 936 bus at the eastern gate and get off at the Huairouyu Home, then switch buses to go to Zhuanghu or Dongtai. The last stop will be Xiangshui Lake.
3. The White River Castle Reservoir
The White River Castle Reservoir is located in the north-east corner of Yanqing Town in the headwaters of the white river. It is 110 kilometers away from the downtown area of Beijing and 30 kilometers from Yanqing Town.
The average temperature is 20°C in summer. This basin is the fifth largest in Beijing although it is also the highest. People may drink the water from the upper branch of the river. The White River Castle Reservoir is famous for the important castle "Jingan Castle" as it is the main access to the white valley. Due to the castle, this area is given the name "The White River Castle Reservoir".
Along both sides of the reservoir you can see mortars (powder launchers). In the east of the reservoir, brick groups of the Great Wall are connected to one another. This is the site of the old Great Wall from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
On the north shore of the reservoir, the blue sky reflects in the lake making it a great place to go camping.
Address: The White River Castle Reservoir, Yanqing Town. 延庆县白河堡
Access: Either in Yanqing or Changping, take the bus to Chicheng and get off the bus at Baihe Castle.
4. The Ming Tombs Reservoir
The Ming Tombs Reservoir is located in a basin surrounded by green mountains and clear lakes. The reflection of the mountain in the water shows the peacefulness and beauty of the reservoir. There are a lot of paths under many flourishing trees. You can camp in this fantastic place with its pretty scenery, and cross your legs and sit on the ground. While facing the dam and feeling the breeze, the appreciation for nature and the enjoyment of life will come to you.
Tip: Take extra clothes in case of low temperatures at night.
Address: Shuiku Road, Changping District, Beijing. (Near exit 15 of the Badaling motorway) 昌平区水库路 (八达岭高速15号出口附近)
Access: Take the 23 or 56 bus in Changping.
5. The Huangsongyu Reservoir
The Huangsongyu Reservoir is located at the entrance of Huangsongyu Village, which sits at the foot of the north-eastern part of the Great Wall, called Pinggu Town. North of the reservoir, there are several famous places of interest including the "Hudongshui" and "One-Line-Sky". The Huangsongyu Reservoir is not known by many people, but it's a great place to go camping. In the summer, plenty of mulberries grow along the river there. In autumn, hawthorn leaves cover the ground to make a long and beautiful red mat. The water that comes from the spring can be drunk without any worries. In addition, the space beside the reservoir can accommodate over 100 camps.
Address: Huangsongyu Village at the foot of the north-eastern part of the Great Wall, Pinggu District, Beijing. 北京市平谷区东北部长城脚下黄松峪村
Access: Take the 918 bus at the east gate's bus stop and get off at the hospital in Pinggu District. Then switch to bus 38 and get off in Huangsongyu Village.
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6. Nine Valley Mouths Natural Scenic Spot
Nine Valley Mouths Natural Scenic Spot is located near the river in Huaibei Town, Huairou District, which is 80 kilometers from the capital city. The spot occupies 10,000 acres and the forest takes up more than 85 percent of the area, forming an amazing ecological environment. Nine Valley Mouths Natural Scenic Spot has green mountains and a beautiful lake. As its background, the site has the Great Wall and some surrounding valleys. You can easily find a free space to camp, fish, and barbecue. This park is definitely the largest wild camping spot in the area. Even though it is not far from the center, the camp always makes you feel like you are very close to nature.
Address: 548 Hefangkou Village, Huaibei Town, near Huairou District. 近郊怀柔区怀北镇河防口村548号
Access: Take the 936 bus and get off at Qinglongxia Road. Then walk straight towards the north of the road for 900 meters before arriving at the location.
7. The Labagoumen Virgin Forest Park
The Labagoumen Virgin Forest Park is located in a Chinese minority "Manchu Village" in the far northern town of Huairou. The park is located 160 kilometers from Beijing city, and is at an altitude of 1,700 meters, making it the highest peak in the Huairou District. This area has flourishing plants and flowers, which live late into the year. In the summer, around June, you can find a diverse range of pretty flowers everywhere. If you want to have an adventurous trip in this amazing forest, camping will certainly provide you with many great memories.
Address: The Manchu minority in Sunshanzi Village, Labagoumen, Huairou Town, Beijing 北京市怀柔县喇叭沟门满族乡孙栅子村
Access: Take the bus from Jingshun to Huairou, then walk northwards along Huairou Road to the north of Labagoumen. If you are afraid you will get lost, you can look at the road signs to find the directions.
8. Yunmeng Mountain Natural Scenic Area
Yunmeng Mountain is well known as the small version of Huangshan (the legendary Yellow Mountains), which is located on the boundary between Miyun Town and the Huairou District. The high mountains and the diversity of peaks show the beauty of nature. The waterfall here is also amazing. Yunmeng Mountain Natural Scenic Area is the nearest national nature reserve to Beijing. The easy access to the mountain makes camping very enjoyable.
Tips: The temperature at night can be 5°C, even in the summer, making it a must to take a sweater. Hiking up the mountain takes a long time, so wearing hiking shoes with you is a smart choice.
Address: The Liuli Temple Town, Huairou District, Beijing 北京市怀柔区琉璃庙乡
Access: Take the 916 bus to Huairou and switch buses, or take the direct 936 bus.
9. The Simatai Reservoir
The volume of the Simatai Reservoir is 547,500 cubic meters. The water it supplies ever year is 300,000 cubic meters. The upper reaches of the river have hot springs and the northern part of it is the "Jinshan" Peak Great Wall. The Simatai Reservoir has a lot of great camping space along the eastern and western shore sides.
Address: The Xiaoyang branch of the Beichao River in Simatai Village, Dongzhuanghe Town, Dongbeishan District, Minyun, Beijing. 北京密云县东北山区东庄禾乡司马台村北潮河支流小汤河上
10. Tian Mo - the most beautiful desert close to Beijing
Tian Mo is located inside Huilai Town in Beijing. It is a natural desert as large as 1,300 acres, lying at the foot of Yan Mountain near the Guanting Reservoir.
The golden sand dunes among the mountains and the calm lakes roll as far as 1,000 meters away, and are famously called "Tai Mo" in Beijing, forming the unique natural landscape. It is said that this desert comes from inside Inner Mongolia, with the wind taking the sand there and creating the scenic landscape together with the humans' habitat.
There is no need to go to the large north-west desert to camp. The Tian Mo in Beijing is a worthy experience of a natural desert and is a paradise for desert skiing, riding camels, playing desert volleyball, sitting around campfires, setting off fireworks, and tasting grilled lamb.
The Reason to Recommend: The natural and cultural landscape there is totally natural and unique among the areas around Beijing.
The Experience to Share: Standing on the desert, you will face the clear Guanting Reservoir. In the south, there is a group of mountains rolling towards the distance. At the foot of the mountains, you will see different kinds of hummocks and, looking from the west to the east, the heritage of the old Yan Great Wall dating from the Warring States period will appear before your eyes.
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