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Home Travel in Xinjiang The Flaming Mountain
The Flaming Mountain
Travel in Xinjiang

The Flaming Mountain
The Flaming Mountain (huǒ yàn shān 火焰山) is located on the northern verge of Turpan Basin (tǔ lǔ fān pén dì 吐鲁番盆地), more than 10 kilometers away from Turpan city (tǔ lǔ fān 吐鲁番). It is the cradle of the Turpan ancient civilization and oasis agriculture. Eighty percent of the total natural landscapes and human landscapes in Turpan are located here. In there, it is bare, red rock, and incredibly hot, high and dry. Great to look at from a distance, but going into the mountains is not for the faint-hearted, and only in the coolest part of the day. They provide a spectacular backdrop to the oasis and scenery of the Turpan area, and have given rise to many legends and stories, such as the classic "Journey into the West"(xī yóu jì 西游记).


As one of the hottest places on earth, Flaming Mountain has always been a famous tourist attraction, with its harsh yet unique natural conditions, as well as abundant cultural heritage.
Located on the northern edge of the Turpan Basin, Flaming Mountain runs 10 kilometers east of Turpan city, stretching up to 100 kilometers from east to west and about 10 kilometers from south to north. The mountain begins at Liusha River (liú shā hé 流沙河) in Shanshan County (shàn shàn xiàn 鄯善县) in the east and ends in Peach Valley (táo ér gōu 桃儿沟) in the west.

The Flaming MountainThe mountain's average altitude is about 500 meters, with the highest peak, Shengjinkou (shèng jīn kǒu 胜金口), towering 831 meters above sea level. Known as Red Rock Mountain (chì shí shān 赤石山) in ancient Chinese classics, or Keziletage ("Red Mountain") in Uygur, Flaming Mountain is largely made up of bare rock..

Not a single blade of grass grows on the hills of Flaming Mountain and there are no traces of birds or animals there. When the July sun heats the bare rocks, the blazing air current rolls up like burning flames.

In the summer, the region gets so hot that you can "hard boil" an egg by burying it in the sand for just a few minutes. With strong direct radiation from the sun, the highest temperatures can reach 47.8 degrees Celsius and the earth's surface temperature can top 70 degrees. From a distance, at the foot of the mountain, dozens of the red rock hills look like flaming fireballs under the blazing sun - hence its name, Flaming Mountain.

The Flaming Mountain and ValleysHowever, its natural allure is not characterized by mere heat. Behind the sterile rock mountains, there are many hidden valleys shaped by diastrophism millions of years ago. The natural conditions of these valleys, which abound with various plants and trees, are quite different. The most famous ones include Grape Valley (pú táo gōu 葡萄沟), Peach Valley (táo ér gōu 桃儿沟), Wood Valley (mù tóu gōu 木头沟), and Shengjinkou Valley (shèng jīn kǒu gōu 胜金口沟). Among them, Grape Valley is best known for producing the best grapes in the country. These "green islands" add extra glamour and diversity to the deserted Flaming Mountain.

Cultural Traditions

Besides its unique natural attractions, the region has always had great cultural traditions. Many historians have penned poems about this mountain. Lying beside the ancient Silk Road, the mountain has witnessed the thriving moments and the abandonment of the ancient commercial road that has linked the East and West for hundreds of years. The famous poet Cen Sen (cén cān 岑参) of the Tang Dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝) (618-907) once presented a poem when passing by: "The mountain abruptly appears at the mouth of Chiting; the cloud of the flames pileups in May. The mountain is yet to be inhabited; even birds dare not fly by." In the Ming Dynasty (míng cháo 明朝) (1368-1644), the famous traveler Chen Cheng (chén chéng 陈诚) also composed a poem on his way through the region: "It's only early spring, but the weather is no different from midsummer." These two lines vividly depict the indistinctive climate in the four seasons on Flaming Mountain.


People have created abundant legends about the emergence of this natural wonder.
Legend 1
Journey into the WestThe most famous story about Flaming Mountain comes from one of the four major classic novels, Pilgrims to the West by Wu Cheng'en (wú chéng ēn 吴承恩) of the Ming Dynasty. In the novel, Tang Xuanzang (táng xuán zàng 唐玄奘) and his disciples meet tremendous hardships when they pass by Flaming Mountain on their way to the west. They cannot penetrate the flames and Sun Wukong (sūn wù kōng 孙悟空), Tang's oldest disciple, procures a magical palm-leaf fan from Princess Iron Fan (tiě shàn gōng zhǔ 铁扇公主), wife of the Ox Demon King (niú mó wáng 牛魔王) (two fictional figures in the novel) and waves it 49 times, causing heavy rains to extinguish the fire. 

To commemorate Tang Xuanzang and his companions who have made great contributions to Flaming Mountain's reputation, serial statues featuring the mythological figures have been erected under the mountain in 1998. Sun Wukong is positioned in the front, carrying the magic palm-leaf fan; Tang and his other disciples are also vividly portrayed, bringing the mythological story to tourists.

Legend 2
Tianshan MountainAccording to a famous Uygur legend, there was once an evil dragon hidden deep in Tianshan Mountain (tiān shān 天山) who liked to eat young children. The top local governor sent Halahezhuo (hā lā hé zhuó 哈拉和卓) to bring the dragon under control. After a heated and breathtaking battle that lasted for three days and nights, Halahezhuo conquered the dragon and cut it into 10 pieces. The dead dragon was then transformed into a mountain and his wounds became valleys; the creature's blood turned all of the rocks deep red. In Uygur, the mountain is therefore called "red mountain."


Many years of volcanic activity have formed the unique crisscrossing gullies and ravines. Scientific explanation cites tectonic plate movement on the earth's surface during the formation of the Himalayas 50,000,000 years ago.

Admission Fee: CNY 230