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Brief Impression of Nanshan Pasture

In Tang Dyansty (618 AD ~ 907 AD), Nanshan Pasture was a famous hunting area, and it still served as an important pasture in Qing Dynasty (1636 AD ~ 1912 AD) and Ji Xiaolan, a notable scholar of Qing Dynasty once praised its vastness and beauty in a poetry. Nowadays, Nanshan Pasture actually refers to a huge mountainous area consisting of dozens of east-west valleys. It stretches on the transitional zone between the lower and middle mountains, with an average elevation of 2,252 m. As the nearest grassland from Urumqi, this natural scenic area is most known for the towering snow-topped peaks, rolling mountains, luxuriant forest, widespread flowers, groups of herds and yurts. The natural scenery and climate here is a bit like that of the Alps and Rocky Mountains. The cool temperature, fresh air and eyeful of green plants all make Nanshan Pasture a wonderful summer from Urumqi.

Main Attractions to Explore in Nanshan Pasture

Nanshan Pasture covers a large area of about 120 square kilometers. The most important scenic areas are distributed mainly in the vertical parallel gorges near Urumqi. From west to east, famous attractions are Xiaoquzi, Gangou, Juhuatai, West Baiyanggou, East Baiyanggou, Shuixigou, Miao’ergou, Yangquangou, etc. These scenic areas share a common feature as all other natural spots on the north slope of the Tianshan Mountains and present individual characteristics in the meantime. Tourists often choose one or two attractions to visit for a half-day tour.

West Baiyanggou 西白杨沟

West Baiyanggou (average elevation: about 2,000 meters) is the most famous and popular site among all areas of Nanshan Pasture. Many locals love to spend their summer holidays here. It is located in the north foot of the Tian’geer Peak, about 62 km from the downtown Urumqi. The valley occupies about 612.52 hectares and is named after the densely grown aspen trees. In this picturesque site, you can see thick firs and pine trees cover all over the hillside, little streams flowing pass the craggy stones, with Kazakh yurts dotted in the vast grassland. One of the can’t miss highlights is the 42-meter-high Shenbulak Waterfall hanging on a cliff like a silver dragon, very stunning and amazing. You can get there by a tourist sightseeing bus, walking or a horse riding. If you’re with kids, the tourist bus is most recommended. In West Baiyanggou, you can ride a horse, visit a Kazak family, try their local milk tea and catch a glimpse of the authentic Kazak lifestyle, lie down on a soft meadow under the warm sunshine, watch the eagle hovering in the sky or the Kazakh performances by the local people, freely enjoy the quietness, coziness and larger space you won’t have in the city.

Scenery of the West Baiyanggou

East Baiyanggou 东白杨沟

Located about 56 km south of Urumqi City, East Baiyanggou (average elevation: about 2,050 meters) is one of the noted summer resorts for the locals. It covers an area of 334.4 hectares. In the valley, there are massive old trees, majestic peaks towering up the sky, a joyful creek running afar. When wind blows, the magnificent forest waves and looks very spectacular. When rain drops, ethereal mist fills the woods and creates a fairyland. Leave all your urban annoyance, just close your eyes and feel the gentle breeze, soft kiss from mother nature and get back your inner peace. The Greenfield Villa, as the only star-rated hotel in this area, offers fine facilities and services for a wonderful summer holiday.

East Baiyanggou

Muxutai 苜蓿台

Muxutai (average elevation: about 2,020 meters) is located at Tuoli Town in southern outskirt of Urumqi, nearly 55 km to the city center. People often call it “the Backyard Garden of Urumqi”. In fact, it is a meadow platform scenic area on a mountain top, and it covers an area of 3 square kilometers. Embraced by mountains in three directions, tourists can view beautiful grassland in the center and surrounding green mountains, and get a vague view of Urumqi city from here. Clustered colorful wild flowers, red little hoses and white Kazak yurts like shinny stars scatter on the extensive green grassland. From spring to autumn, Muxutai is decorated with tens of wild pretty flowers, yellow, purple, light blue, red, white, colorful and beautiful. Besides that, with luck, you can also see wild animals, like red deer, wild boar and marmot. The well-arranged three peaks here are mysterious and poetic as well. This primitive charm may be the most attractive part of Muxutai.

Beautiful Muxutai in Summer

Juhuatai 菊花台

Juhuatai (average elevation: about 2,200 meters) in Gangou Village is another main attraction in Nanshan Pasture. It is located about 61 km from Urumqi City and covers an area of 500 hectares. Juhuatai is actually an alluvial fan platform on a gentle slope. The northern side is covered with dense green pines, and the southern side is carpeted by fresh grass, while at the bottom a brook wriggles through. On the flat and board area, herds of cows and sheep is surrounded by golden and purplish red flowers, and bright sunlight casts the shadow of white clouds on the waved green grass. Walk among the grass is just like walk into a peaceful idyllic picture which was composed by Chinese great poet - Tao Yuanming.

Different Seasonal Sights in Juhuatai

How to Get to Nanshan Pasture?

Travels usually get to Nanshan Pasture from Urumqi. The locations of Nanshan Pasture’s attractions vary from each other. And, the West Baiyanggou is often the preferred option than others.

West Baiyanggou Location & Transportation:

West Baiyanggou Address: Banfanggou Village, Urumqi City, Xinjiang 新疆维吾尔自治区乌鲁木齐市乌鲁木齐县板房沟乡境内; about 62 km from downtown Urumqi.

Urumqi Nanshan Pasture Urumqi Nanshan Pasture Location Map (Click to Enlarge)

Urumqi to West Baiyanggou:

By Private Car: about 1.5 hours’ drive.

By Bus: Urumqi Nanjiao Bus Station (South Suburb Bus Station 南郊客运站), Beijiao Bus Station (North Suburb Bus Station 北郊客运站), Urumqi Shijiao Bus Station (市郊客运站), Bayi Jungong Bus Station (Urumqi Tourism Distribution Center 八一军供客运站旅游集散中) and bus station near Urumqi Railway Station all have direct buses to West Baiyanggou and other attractions of Nanshan Pasture. The bus journey is approximately 2 hours.

Bus Stations Information:

Nanjiao Bus Station (Address: No.1 Yaerwo Road, Tianshan District, Urumqi, Xinjiang 新疆维吾尔自治区乌鲁木齐市天山区燕尔窝路1号) runs the buses every hour between 09:00 and 19:00.

Bayi Jungong Bus Station (Address: North of Bayi Hostel, Saybag District, Urumqi, Xinjiang 新疆维吾尔自治区乌鲁木齐市沙依巴克区南站路八一招待所北侧) has one bus to Nanshan Pasture departing at 08:30 each morning.

Beijiao Bus Station (Address: No.959, Hubei Road, Shuimogou District, Urumqi 新疆维吾尔自治区乌鲁木齐市水磨沟区南湖北路959号)

Shijiao Bus Station (Address: N0.62, Hetian Road, Saybag District, Urumqi, Xinjiang 新疆维吾尔自治区乌鲁木齐市沙依巴克区和田街62号) delivers buses to West Baiyanggou every hour between 09:30 and 18:30. The station still has many buses to other scenic areas of Nanshan Pasture.

Best Time to Visit

Most scenic areas of Nanshan Pasture are located at about 2,000 meters above sea level, and they have large amounts of vegetation, so the pasture belongs to a mountain climate. The weather and temperature here is quite different from that of Urumqi City.

When Urumqi eases its way to warm spring, it’s still cold in Nanshan Pasture until May. Likely, when the city goes through hot summer, the pasture actually is very cool. The forests and grassland are on their green time. Various wild flowers bloom during the season too. Snow-covered mountains can be seen in the distance. Therefore, summer (from June to August) is the best time to visit Nanshan Pasture for you can appreciate the beautiful natural scenery and experience comfortable weather. July has the best grass in all of the year, and it’s a great time to stroll around the pasture with blue sky, white clouds and fresh air.

Fall turns the pasture a golden world and long, freezing cold winter follows with snows. Winter may last six or seven months. It’s the low season but you can view stunning snowy grasslands, have skiing fun and enjoy fewer tourists. Remember to dress warm when visiting in winter and keep warm at night if you stay over.

Urumqi Nanshan Pasture

Summer is the most beautiful season of Nanshan Pasture

Accommodation

Tourists usually drive back to downtown Urumqi for accommodation after a day trip to Nanshan Pasture. If you like, you can spend one night in the pasture and enjoy a longer intimate contact with nature. The most popular and common accommodation are the featured Kazak yurts on the slopes. The yurts are the houses of the Kazak families with thick carpet and stove only. The facilities are simple and basic, with no beds, quilts and washroom. Howevery, the giant firing stove keeps the yurt warm enough. Better bring your own sleeping bag if it’s your first time to try the Kazak yurt.

Except riding a hose during the daytime and experiencing the Kazak living style at night, you can enjoy gorgeous night view and twinkle stars in the pasture, savor long-lost quiet and darkness and taste local milk tea and original Kazak meals. There are also a few villas in the pasture, and the facility is better, you can take hot bath, however, the price is more expensive than Kazakh yurts.

Urumqi Nanshan Pasture

Kazak Yurt in Nanshan Pasture

Nanshan Pasture Useful Travel Tips

1. Traditional Activities

  • Lots of traditional activities are held in Nanshan Pasture during different seasons. Summer and Autumn hold the famous house riding and girl chasing games. Goat grabbing in the snowfield takes place in every winter.
  • With luck, you may see a celebration mentioned above. Other times, you can take a walk, ride a horse, make a short visit to the Kazak yurt of the local people, or try skiing in the winter.

2. About the Ticket

  • The whole scenic area only charges ¥45 as admission. But, there are lots of self-paying projects in the pasture, for example, riding a horse (¥100 per hour), visiting a Kazakh family (¥30/time) and the bus to the waterfall (¥60 per adult).
  • You can check detailed information with your guide when visiting the Nanshan Pasture.

3.Others

  • Respect the minority ethnic culture and customs.
  • Take thick coat against the huge temperature difference between morning and evening.

How to Plan A Urumqi Xinjiang Tour

How to Get to Urumqi: Fly to Urumqi from Beijing (4-4.5hrs), Shanghai (5.5hrs), Guangzhou (5hrs), Shenzhen (5.5hrs), Xian (3.5hrs)..., or take a high speed bullet train from Dunhuang (4hrs), Zhangye (7-7.5hrs), Turpan (1hr), etc.

Best Time to Visit Urumqi: May to October when the temperature is comfortable and the seasonal scenery is very beautiful.

Top Places to Visit Urumqi: Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) of Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar, Xinjiang Regional Museum, Red Hill Park, Nanshan Pasture.

Most travelers start a Xinjiang tour from Urumqi and take Urumqi as the transfer center of visiting the Northern Xinjiang. Usually, tourists spend one day exploring Urumqi’s highlights in the down area, including the Xinjiang International Grand Bazaar, Red Hill Park and Xinjiang Regional Museum. Making a day trip to Tianchi Lake is a popular itinerary if you won’t visit Kanas. Nanshan Pasture is a good summer resort worthy of your visit if you happen to visit Urumqi in summer.

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Xinjiang is vast and beautiful. The Northern Xinjiang is most known for the natural beauty while the Southern Xinjiang is characterized rich cultural and historical treasures. Depending on your time and personal interests, you can extend trip to more destinations, such as the Turpan, fairyland Kanas Lake and Hemu Village in Altay, incredibly beautiful Sayram Lake, Wu’erhe Ghost City in Karamay, Ili (Kalajun Grassland, Narati Grassland, Guozigou...) in Northern Xinjiang, and travel further to the Southern Xinjiang’s Kashgar and vicinal Tashkurgan, Taklamakan Desert, Bosten Lake, Tomor Peak, Kuqa, Khotan, etc. You can pick up some highlighting places for a week's travel or haven an in-depth discovery for up to one month.

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Northwest and Southwest China are two mysterious regions travelers love to visit. Following the ancient Silk Road from Xian to Xinjiang is also a popular travel route. It’s highly suggested that you visit Xinjiang with Dunhuang, Zhangye, Jiayuguan along the ancient Silk Road, or with the holy land of Tibet (Lhasa, Shigatse, Mount Everest, Mount Kailash, Nyingchi...). The nature scenery and distinctive culture will impress you deeply. China Discovery provides not only all-inclusive Xinjiang tours, Silk Road tours, but also can help you customize a wonderful trip on your own.

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