You’re Not On Drugs: China’s Super-Saturated And Rainbow Mountains Are Real

Published June 2, 2015
Updated September 9, 2021

With their rich, vibrant hues, it's hard to believe that these rainbow mountains are real. You have to see it to believe it.

Rainbow Mountains

It’s hard to believe that this collection of colorfully striped mountains is real. Sure, some amount of photo manipulation may have awoken the rich hues, but even the un-retouched images paint a pretty picture. Located in China’s Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, these “rainbow mountains” are yet another wondrous example of what Mother Nature can create. The formations’ stripes are most vivid after a rainstorm or as the sun enters or leaves the sky.

With enough time, anything is possible–even this 400-square-kilometer section of striped mountains. 24 million years ago, red sandstone and mineral deposits formed layers that compressed and underwent metamorphism, speckling the Chinese landscape with a “layer cake” of blues, reds and yellows. Erosion worked against the formation, carving cliffs, valleys and natural pillars into the earth, adding the array of textures and patterns that now characterize the region’s mountains.

Danxia Landform China

Source: Wiki Walking

Danxia topography refers to landforms in China that form due to the ways that erosion, weather and uplift transform red sandstone. These unique geological features have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010, thanks to the striped mountains’ great natural beauty and their illustration of the forces and processes that created them.

Although there are already four scenic viewing platforms for tourists to experience China’s colorfully striped mountains, Zhangye is said to be building more amenities to accommodate tourists in the region.

Colorful Mountains at Sunset

Source: 500px

Zhangye Mountains

Source: img kid


If you liked these incredible rainbow mountains in China, you’ll love our list of the world’s most unbelievable places.

Kiri Picone
Kiri Picone holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Pepperdine University and has been writing for various digital publishers for more than 10 years.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.