Located in the northern part of Sichuan province in China, Jiuzhaigou National Park is comprised of a speckling of multi-colored lakes surrounded by deep woodlands and impressive conic waterfalls in between precipitous mountains. Given the high altitude of the jagged valley, 4,800 meters, the landscape has a range of diverse forest ecosystems over the 300 square km and half of which is virgin forest. About 140 bird species inhabit the valley as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, the Sichuan takin, and the golden snub-nosed monkey.
The landscape of the park is made up of high-altitude karsts shaped by glacial, hydrological and tectonic activity, but is most popular attraction is its dozens of blue, turqoise, and green lakes, which attract visitors regardless of the season. The autumn months are the most popular time to visit in order to witness the yellow, red and orange foliage that complements colors of the crystalline lakes. The primary features of the park are Nuorilang Falls, Peacock River, Five Flower Lake, and Panda Lake.
Jiuzhaigou means “Nine Village Valley” and refers to the nine Tibetan villages scattered in the park territory. According to Tibetan legend, Jiuzhaigou was created when a jealous devil caused the goddess Wunosemo to drop her magic mirror, a present from her lover the warlord god, Dage. The mirror dropped to the ground and shattered into 114 shimmering turquoise lakes.
Whether or not you believe in the legend, I’m certainly adding these turquoise mirrors to my travel bucket list (given that I am looking for any excuse to travel back to Sichuan).