Traditional yacht boat along scenic river in Three Gorges
The Wu Gorge of three gorges at the Yangtze river, near Badong, Hubei, China
Three Gorges Tribe Scenic Spot along the Yangtze River; located in the Xiling Gorge of Three Gorges, Yichang, Hubei, China
China Yangtze River Three Gorges Dam in the rain.
- The Three Gorges region spans a total of 120 miles, with the Three Gorges themselves occupying roughly 75 of those miles. Spanning from the western–upriver cities of Fengjie and Yichang, in Chongqing municipality eastward–and downstream to Hubei province, the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River consist of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Xiling Gorge. Each of the gorges has something different to offer as you cruise down the Yangtze river, which happens to be the largest river in China, and the third largest in the world next to the Amazon and the Nile, respectively. The paths of the three gorges are filled with caves and sites of culture; some of these sites even require moving to a smaller boat to navigate the crevices of the gorges!
- The Qutang Gorge is the shortest of the three gorges, spanning almost 5 miles in length. It starts at the White Emperor City, more commonly known as Baidi City. Within it is the Baidi Temple, which is definitely something to see during your three gorges river journey. Over the years due to the rising of the water, Baidi City stands as an island, but bridges and docks have been built to facilitate visitors to the temple. The gorge begins between the Chijia and Bayan Mountains, and this particular spot is known as the Kuimen Gate. The Qutang Gorge is considered the most dramatic of the three gorges, as it navigates through steep and winding cliffs. At the entrance to the Qutang Gorge you can see the chalk wall: a white cliff recognized by the numerous characters carved into the rock by ancient Chinese calligraphers. The largest character carvings reach a staggering six feet! A series of rectangular holes that zig zag up part of the cliff face known as the Meng Liang Staircase, a cultural site potentially dating back to the Song dynasty, can be seen as you float down the Qutang Gorge.
- The Wu Gorge is the second of the three gorges. Sometimes referred to as the great gorge, it stretches on for 28 miles, much longer than the Qutang Gorge. The Wu Gorge runs from Wushan to Guandukou. One of the most spectacular sites along the Wu Gorge is the twelve peaks, located on both banks of the river. Many tales and legends have been based off of these peaks, and the most notable of the twelve is the Goddess Peak, or the Shennu Peak. This peak’s shape represents that of a woman looking down onto the Wu Gorge; it is also the highest of the twelve peaks located on the gorge. The Wu Gorge is bountiful with twists and turns, constantly zig zagging through the mountains. With each turn of the boat new scenery appears, and the forest covered mountains are nothing short of a spectacular view. Kongming Stele is also found along the Wu Gorge; located on the Jixian peak, this concave white rock looks like a rather large stone stele engraved with six Chinese characters. The Wu Gorge at one point even divides into two smaller gorges: the Golden Helmet and Silver Armor gorge, and the Iron Coffin gorge, another unique feature of this waterway.
- The Xiling Gorge is the largest and most downstream of the three gorges of the Yangtze river. Found entirely within the Hubei province, it spans from Badong County in the west to the Nanjin Pass in Yichang in the east. About 41 miles in length, it compromises more than half of the distance of the three gorges combined! Xiling Gorge is abound with shoals, or natural submerged ridges and banks consisting of sand or other unconsolidated material; this once made the Xiling Gorge somewhat frightening to travel along, paired with the quick and uneasy currents sometimes found in this gorge. Collectively known as the Three Shoals of Xiling, the Quingtan, Xietan, and Kong Ling are known as the most dangerous of the shoals that can be seen on your Yangtze river journey.
- The Three Traveler’s Cave, or San You Dong, is a spot that must explored on your three gorges adventure. Located on the Xiling Mountain along the Xiling Gorge, it is a magnificent limestone cave almost 100 feet in length! Almost 50 feet inside the cave you will find one of the features it is most known for: two stalactite pillars that hang down almost like a gate. On the inside of the walls of the cave you will find many inscriptions and styles of calligraphy, as the cave may be traced all the way back to the Tang Dynasty. Since the building of the Three Gorges Dam though, the danger has faded due to the increase in the river’s depth from said Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam spanning the Yangtze river, and found by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling district. It hails as the world’s largest power station, in terms of installed capacity. Although China regards the dam as monumental, and both an economical and social success, the dam has flooded many of the archeological sites found through the Yangtze river, including sites from the three gorges. It is still quite a site to see on your three gorges adventure, and it is something you cannot miss.
The Three Gorges are an important part of the history of the Yangtze river, and are steep with ancient history. The absolutely incredible geography and views make any cruise along the Three Gorges an experience you won’t forget, and Stunning China has your back when it comes to a Three Gorges vacation.