Are These for Real? Rainbow-Colored Mountains Look Too Good to Be True

    These mountains look good enough to eat! (Image: Eric Pheterson/Wikimedia Commons)The reds look even stronger as the sun sets. (Image: Sohu)A curved road runs through the dramatic striations. (Image: Sohu)The diagonal layering is thought to have been caused by tectonic plate movements. (Image: Sohu)Tourists visit this unique area to take in the multicolored wonderland. (Image: rolando000/Flickr)

    When you see technicolor pictures like these, you really have to wonder whether they’ve been photoshopped.

    Well, these gorgeous mountains in Gansu Province do look almost just like this in real life.

    The last photo with the tourists is probably the most natural, but the others might just have had ideal lighting!

    The Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park is located north of the Qilian Mountains, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. In Mandarin, “Dan” means red, and “Xia” means colored clouds.

    The formations are mostly several hundred yards high with smooth and sharp cliffs, some of which appear to be castles and creatures when viewed from a certain angle. From a distance, the mineral layers almost look like a colorful cake.

    The range formed from different types of rock, including red sandstone, about 200 million years ago during the Jurassic and Tertiary periods, and covers an area of around 155,000 square miles.

    However, about 50 million years ago, the tectonic plate movements that created the Himalayas also affected the future area of Gansu Province, crumpling the layers into the patterns we see today.

    Chinese archaeologists mapped the area in the 1920s and 1930s, but Danxia only hit the tourist map fairly recently.

    Being landlocked and relatively underpopulated, Gansu has tended to be less developed than other eastern provinces. But that’s changing now, and is being accompanied by a tourism boom.

    Research by Lulu


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