Xiling Gorge, Yichang – Ticket, Opening hours, Location, and Highlights

xiling gorge yichang

Xiling Gorge (西陵峡), named after Xiling Mountain in Yichang City, extends from Xiangxi Mouth in the west of Zigui County, Hubei Province, to Nanjin Pass in the east of Yichang. Stretching over 76 kilometers, it is renowned for its winding waterway, peculiar rock formations, numerous sandbanks, and thrilling boat rides, making it the most treacherous gorge among the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River. Throughout history, Xiling Gorge has been celebrated in the poetry and prose of eminent figures such as Qu Yuan, Bai Juyi, Ouyang Xiu, and Su Zhe.

Divided into two sections, the upper section of Xiling Gorge is Xiangxi Wide Valley, and the lower section is Miao Nan Wide Valley. The former, approximately 45 kilometers long, features notable attractions like Bing Shu Bao Jian Gorge, Niu Gan Ma Fei Gorge, and Kong Ling Gorge. The latter, around 33 kilometers in length, showcases scenic spots such as Deng Ying Gorge and Huangniu Gorge.

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Estimated Length of TourHalf a day
Boat Cruise Ticket160 RMB
Opening Hours8.30 – 17.30; Last admission: 17.00
Telephone Number0086-0717-8661722

Location and Transportation

The Xiling Gorge Scenic Area is located in the northern part of Yichang City, Hubei Province, China. The specific address is No. 8 Nanjin Pass Road, Yiling District. Tourists can take bus B10 and get off at Sanyou Cave Stop (三游洞).

Highlights of Xiling Gorge

Bing Shu Bao Jian Gorge (Military Book and Precious Sword Gorge)

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Located in the western section of Xiling Gorge in the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River, Bing Shu Bao Jian Gorge is approximately 5 kilometers long, stretching from the mouth of the Xiangxi River to Xintan in Zigui County, Hubei Province. The gorge is characterized by narrow waters, with the river reaching a width of nearly 100 meters at its narrowest point. The cliffs along the shore are primarily composed of limestone. The name, meaning “Military Book and Precious Sword Gorge,” stems from the belief that the crevices in the northern cliff contain ancient coffin-like relics resembling military books, rumored to be hidden by the legendary strategist Zhuge Liang. Additionally, a massive stone standing upright in the river, resembling a sword, is said to be the precious sword also hidden by Zhuge Liang. Due to the iron-like appearance of the “book,” it is also known as Iron Coffin Gorge. Legend has it that Zhuge Liang once stationed troops and stored provisions in this area, earning it the alternative name of Rice Granary Gorge.

Niu Gan Ma Fei Gorge (Cow’s Liver and Horse’s Lung Gorge)

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Not far east from Bing Shu Bao Jian Gorge, on the northern bank of the Yangtze, lies the Niu Gan Ma Fei Gorge. Characterized by two overlapping and hanging chunks of yellowish rock on the cliff, resembling the liver of a cow and the lung of a horse, the gorge is aptly named Niu Gan Ma Fei, translating to “Cow’s Liver and Horse’s Lung.” These formations are actually stalactites formed by the deposition of calcium carbonate from underground water. While the “cow’s liver” remains intact, the “horse’s lung” was partially destroyed in 1900 by British warships during the invasion, leaving it incomplete.

Deng Ying Gorge (Lamp Shadow Gorge)

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Between Liantuo and Nanjin Pass lies Deng Ying Gorge, renowned for its clear and pure cliffs devoid of any extraneous colors. The surroundings are adorned with verdant hills resembling flowing clouds and cascading springs akin to jade. The cliff reflections in the river create a tranquil and crystalline ambiance. Passing through this gorge during the night, especially under the moonlight with the moon hanging over the western mountains, transforms the scenery into an exceptionally beautiful spectacle, earning it the alternate name “Bright Moon Gorge.” One significant feature of Deng Ying Gorge is the breathtaking view at sunset when the sunlight casts shadows resembling the characters from the Chinese shadow play, especially the characters from the classic “Journey to the West.” This unique scence has given the gorge its name.

Huangniu Gorge (Yellow Ox Gorge)

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Continuing beyond Deng Ying Gorge, a series of steep cliffs come into view. Towering above the lush peaks, these cliffs overlook the surging torrents below. Nine winding ridges descend from the precipice, resembling nine dragons entering the water, creating a grand and majestic spectacle. The colossal rock wall suspended in mid-air is known as Huangniu Rock, and the valley is called “Huangniu Gorge.” Compared to Deng Ying Gorge, the terrain on both sides of Huangniu Gorge is steeper, and the rock formations are rugged and varied. This area is representative of the geological fault lines from the Sinian Period. Fossils of fish, trilobites, and other marine organisms can still be found in Huangniu Gorge, providing a record of the geological changes in the Three Gorges over millions of years. In the past, navigating through Huangniu Gorge was challenging due to swift waters and numerous reefs. Ships had to proceed cautiously, especially when traveling against the current, which often resulted in slow progress over several days.

On the southern bank of Huangniu Gorge stands Huangling Temple, a magnificent ancient structure with red walls, yellow tiles, and splendid golden decorations. It is the largest and oldest building in the Three Gorges region. Originally known as “Huangniu Shrine,” during the Three Kingdoms period, when Zhuge Liang passed through Huangniu Gorge, he saw the dilapidated temple and funded its reconstruction. He even wrote the “Huangniu Temple Inscription” in honor of this renovation.

Vlog about Xiling Gorge

Attractions along Xiling Gorge

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