Tiger Leaping Gorge is a canyon on the Yangtze River (locally called the Golden Sands River ), located 60 km north of Lijiang City, Yunnan in southwestern China. It is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site. In Yongsheng Village of the Town of Tiger leaping gorge, which is 8km from Qiaotou, divided into three sections: Upper, Mid and Lower Gorge. Totally 20km long, with elevation difference of 213km, and 18 dangerous rapids. The river is held by the two snow mountains of Yalong and Haba, with altitude difference of 3900m. The narrowest place of the river is only over 20m. Tiger leaping Gorge got its name from 13m high Jumping Tiger stone in the center of river. It is said that the tiger with extraordinary power has traveled between Jade Snow Mountain and Haba Snow mountain with the help of this stone. You can go to the bottom of the Gorge along 1800 steps. The water of Jingsha River is like a dragon taking over the pass, and the place with terrifying waves is the famous landscape “Mantianxing”. If you go further on, you can come to the Water Curtain Cave of Guanyin Waterfall. There are few guesthouse in Tiger leaping gorge where you can overnight. Wedged tightly between titanic cliffs, the river is so narrow here. A local legend goes that a hunted tiger made its escape to the other side in a single bound. Here, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain lean close to each other and a large volume of torrent moving between them cutting deeper and deeper into the bottom of the gorge. In some places, there is a drop of 3,000 meters to the water.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a contender for the world's deepest river canyon, depending on the exact definition used. The inhabitants of the gorge are primarily the indigenous Naxi people, who live in a handful of small hamlets. Their primary subsistence comes from grain production and foreign hikers. The gorge is not considered navigable. In the early 1980s, four rafters attempted to go down the gorge and were never seen again. In 1986, the first known successful attempt to sail through the gorge was made by the first expedition to float down the entire length of the Yangtze, starting at the river's high source at the Gelandandong glacier lake.
The area was officially opened to foreign tourists in 1993, but had attracted adventurous backpackers already in the 1980s. Officials plan to improve the existing trails and roads, bringing tour buses and more development. These plans arouse highly varied reactions among the local population, from strong opposition to strong support.
Natural crystals are mined from areas in and surrounding the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is inspires a sense of adventure and satisfies the deepest yearnings for magnificent scenery. It was recognized as one of the deepest gorge in the world, no matter for normal visitors or adventures, it shares magnificent natural landscape. Also, Hiking the length of the gorge is possible.
The hiking path ("the high road") is well-maintained and marked, although sometimes narrow, and is used by the Naxi as part of everyday life. This trail is longer than the lower road, approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi), but more varied. It features a variety of micro-ecosystems, waterfalls, and a fair number of guesthouses for trekkers. These guesthouses are not well heated, which combined with the unpredictable nature of high mountain weather makes this trek unadvisable during the rainy season, although in recent years the raining periods got shorter and it got possible to hike there again.
The lower road, stretching about 195 km (121 mi) from Qiaotou through the Gorge, is a stretch of pavement (until recently a simple mule track) crossed by several waterfalls, and frequently beset by rockslides. Some portions of the road have been known to disappear into the river below. The road follows the Yangtze, so there are more views of the river, and a stronger sense of being in a gorge than on the upper trail. Where the high road descends to meet the lower road, one can climb down to the river near the Tiger Leaping Stone, the point at which the tiger is said to have leaped. At the time being (July 2010) the gorge is closed, because a new lower road is being built. But individuals are allowed to use the upper trail. Some busses go through the gorge.
Despite its proximity to tourist-favorite Lijiang, the high trail winding up onto the steep sides of the Haba Xue Shan, range is much less welcoming to tourist groups than Lijiang Old Town's stone streets. There were once two trails through the middle part of the gorge, but the low trail has since been paved and is the road that takes tourists less inclined to hike into the gorge to take pictures of the three Tiger Leaping Stones or to spend the night at a guesthouse. To hike the high trail takes least two days at a moderate to steady pace to complete. Many hikers linger in the gorge, taking advantage of the charming accommodations available in the village of Walnut Garden situated between Daju southeast of the river and Qiaotou to the northwest. There are a handful of other small towns as well which all make for good resting points, with a number of small guesthouses scattered between them. See Stay for more details.
Naturally, Tiger leaping Gorge divided into three sections, the first section, which is the narrowest and uppermost section, is the mouth of the fast flowing Jingsha River. In the middle of the river's mouth is a large rock that is positioned at the gorge's narrowest section-only 30 meters (99 feet) wide. An ancient legend says that a tiger used this rock as its stepping stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other, which is how the gorge got its name.
As the river enters the middle section, it drops another 100 meters (330 feet) and rushes through with incredible speed. Here the thunderous waters slam into sharp, large rocks and crash down into the river forming swirling whirlpools. Can it get more exciting? Yes, it can as the third and lowest section is acclaimed for being the wildest attraction of all!
The cliffs over-looking this section are even steeper and much more dangerous. Here, the river twists and turns and the river vigorously surges forward creating high waves and a frothy spew as it collides with the mountainsides. This is a view that inspires a sense of adventure and satisfies the deepest yearnings for magnificent scenery.
The gorge stretches about 15 kilometers (9 miles). For the experienced and adventurous, thrilling raft rides are available. The magnificent backdrop of the gorge, combined with the twisting white water will create an exhilarating and unforgettable white water rafting experience. For those who prefer a gentle ride, slow-speed drifting is available in the calmer sections of the gorge.