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Rainbow Coloured Mountains – How to Discover the Fascinating Places in China in 2022




Rainbow Coloured Mountains of the East

If you have an avid fascination with rare rocks, then the Danxia mountains at the Zhangye National Geo-park located in the Gansu province on the northwest of China should be first on your itinerary.

Danxia is a landform of ruddy sandstones that have been disintegrated to make irregular rock formations. Found in China, these rainbow mountains are truly nature’s many rare sights and they are definitely worth a travel destination.

Travel destination: Danxia Mountains in Zhangye National Park Geo
Travel destination: Danxia Mountains in Zhangye National Park Geo (Credit:

But, What causes the Rainbow Mountains to be colored the way they are?

A geological explanation provides that these “Rainbow Mountains” are Cretaceous (is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period: 145 million years ago) sandstones and siltstones that naturally settled in China before the Himalayan Mountains were formed.

The sand and residue (silt) were stored with iron and trace minerals that furnished it with the colorful hues we see today.

rainbow mountain in China, Nature, travel
Zhangye rainbow mountain in China (Credit:

What was previously a flat surface was upset by the Indian Plate crashing into the Eurasian Plate roughly 55 million years back. That natural event erected mountains and uncovered sedimentary rocks that were concealed deep below the earth.

Weathering and erosion uprooted the overlying layers of continental siliciclastic rocks and uncovered rudimentary formations with various mineralogy and chemistry. This causes the striking variety in hues seen over the “Rainbow Mountains”.

Zhangye Danxia National Geologic in Gansu province of China
Zhangye Danxia National Geologic in Gansu province of China (Credit:

More to know about these mysterious mountainous features

Danxia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 and it is also one of the “Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World” selected by National Geographic.

The best time to travel to this majestic landscape is from June to September when the climate is pleasant. The blend of a solid sun and a little down-pour draws out the colors more. Try not to go when it is raining or overcast, as daylight is required for the best viewing of the saturated colors.

The remainder of the year is very dry on these mountains. Winter is not a good time to travel there because it is windy and cold during that time of the year.

The best time to visit is towards the beginning of the day and particularly at night, where the color variations change ceaselessly. Nightfall is at 7:30 pm local time in the spring and autumn and 8:00 pm in the summer.

It will be undeniably packed in July and August and on Chinese occasions. This is due to the fact that during the peak of tourist season in Zhangye, somewhere in the range of 20 000 voyagers visit day by day.

Note: China is not the only country with these vivid, prismatic rock formations, either.

Peru is well-known for this mountain range and its hues and goes by the name of Montaña de Siete Colores, translated as ‘Mountain of the Seven Colors’.

Another Rainbow Coloured Mountain, known as the ‘Hill of 14 Colors’ is located in Argentina, Serranias del Hornocal, and is very popular.

Seven Colored Earths located in Mauritius is less of a mountain range and far more of a range of sand dunes but it’s worth the visit nevertheless.

Now for some valuable tips for your excursion:

  • Take a coat for morning and evening visits. Temperatures drop rapidly at night.
  • Bring bottled water.
  • A face mask or scarf may be helpful, on more windy days.
  • Wear sunscreen to deal with the intense sun
  • Wear walking shoes, especially if you are taking an extended tour.

This ancient technicolor range is truly a sight worth seeing and as a result, you just have to be in your best form on the day…

Good luck!


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