Qutang Gorge

    Below White Emperor City you will enter Qutang Gorge, the first of the three gorges of the Yangtze River, and the one that is famous for its sheer and spectacular precipices. When you visit Qutang Gorge, you will find uniquely beautiful natural formations greeting you from every direction. In this section, the Yangtze River carves its way through the gorge between the sheer precipices that frame both sides of the river. Qutang's widest point is more than 150 meters (500 feet) and its narrowest point is about tens of meters. Two mountains, the Red Passage Mountain (Chijia Shan) to the north and the White Salt Mountain (Baiyan Shan) to the south, form the Kui Men entrance (Kui Gate). The steep precipices form a giant door where the tumultuous Yangtse bursts through in an exciting rush of rolling and roaring water

On the precipice of White Salt Mountain is Meng Liang Stairway - a series of holes nearly a meter (3 feet) apart and about one-third of a meter deep, forming a 'Z' shape. It is the typical model of Ancient Plank Road in Qutang Gorge. Directly below is a rock that appears to have a human form, and is known as Hanging Monk Rock ( Daodiao Heshangshi). If you look over the monk's head, above the top of this rock, you will see Armour Cave (Kuijia Dong).There is a legend that a Song-Dynasty female general hid weapons. During an excavation of this cave in 1958, three 2,000-year old wooden coffins from the ancient Kingdom of Ba were removed. This proved that the Yangtze River region is one of the sites of early human activity. To the east of Armour Cave (on the south side), there is a distinctive black rock on the top of which is Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon.


In another section, near the Meng Liang Stairway, one can climb a flight of steps to see a huge stalactite that resembles a phoenix with its head raised upwards. The small stream that flows down from the phoenix is called Drinking Phoenix Spring. Nearby, on a grand rock face there are 900 characters that were carved by famous Song Dynasty calligraphers. Looking to the north side of the river, opposite Meng Liang Stairway, is a coffee-colored precipice called Bellows Gorge (Fengxiang Xia).        

    Below Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon, at the eastern end of Qutang Gorge, is the town of Daxi. This is the best place for those who love archeology to explore the Daxi Culture - one of China's primitive cultures that originated over 5000 years ago. This culture that developed along the river was a later period matriarchal clan community that evolved to patrilineal community.


Below Daxi, the river widens out. About 5 kilometers downstream, on the south bank, are two sharp, black peaks, which form the Unlocked Gates Gorge (Cuokai Xia). On the east side is a thick, round stone pillar, called Binding Dragon Pillar (Suolong Zhu).

Other scenic spots in this section include "Chalk Wall", "Iron Lock Pass" and "Water Stealing Hole", etc.