Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, set up in 1982, is the first authorized national forest park in China. Located 32 kilometers (19 miles) from urban Zhangjiajie and 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Wulingyuan Scenic Area. The area covers 480 thousand square meters (185 square miles). Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list for its lush vegetation, unique sandstone pillars, pristine waters and a wide variety flora and fauna. This park, together with Suoxiyu Natural Resource Reserve, Tianzishan Natural Resource Reserve and Yaozizhai makes up the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, also known as Zhangjiajie Scenic Spot. The most notable geographic features of the park are the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. They are the result of many years of erosion. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. Much of the erosion which forms these pillars are the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them.
The park features grotesque peaks, lucid brooks, abundant fauna and floras and hospitable climate. There are six main scenic spots and over 90 smaller ones in the park to date.About 98% of the area is covered with vegetation. There are 720 species of the 102 families, including all the five most important floras, namely, the rose family, pulse family, grass family, composite family and orchid family. Some of these trees are rare and regarded as national treasure.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park also boasts a variety of animals. Exuberant forests offer them ideal habitats to live in and procreate their own species. There are more than 149 kinds of chordate animals inhabitants in this park. Among them, 28 kinds are under national protection, amongst which, are the Golden Pheasant, Rhesus Monkey, Giant Salamander and Musk Deer. Visitors will be able to hear birds singing and see monkeys playing in the tree.
Sceneries along the Golden Whip Stream are most enchanting in the park. Named after the Golden Whip Rock that it flows by, this stream, 5.7 kilometers long (3.5 miles), joins the Lute stream in the west and Suoxi Stream in the east. A 300-meter (984 feet) walk from the gate of the park will lead you to the entrance of the Golden Whip Stream. Flanked by ridges and peaks, the crystal clear water makes it possible to observe every action of the fish in the water. Wild flowers are in abundance here. The northern part of the park is the essential tourist route. Yuanjiajie is a natural platform that faces giant rocks rising from deep valleys and surrounded by higher mountains. Unique in their shapes and covered with pine trees, these rocks resemble a vivid Chinese painting.
Yellow Stone Stronghold (Huangshizhai), Yaozizhai is located west of the park. It is named after a story whereby Huang Shi saved Zhang Liang from misfortune when the latter isolated himself from society in this forest.
It belongs to the sub-tropical climate of Central Asia. Splendid mountains and luxuriant trees help form a favorable climate: warm in winter and cool in summer. The average temperature is 13 degree C (55F), the highest 17degree C (62F ) while the lowest is 10 degree C (50F).