Dunhuang Yardang National Geologic Park
Treading his way to the ancient city of Loulan from Lop Nur, Sven Hedin (1865~1952), the prominent Swedish explorer on the Silk Road, was struck by the vast amount of hillocks that suddenly manifested themselves. He inquired about the name of the place, and the local Uyghur guide replied, “this is yardang”. In the Uyghur language, yardang means “steep, precipitous bank”. Sven Hedin recorded the answer in his travel notes, and the type of landform came to be known as “yardang”.
Yardang landform is formed by the dual action of wind erosion, dust, sand, etc, which carve the bedrock or certain other solid material into hillocks. The wind eats into, and removes, the softer material, while the harder material remains. Depending on the mechanics of the air flow and erosion, yardangs may take on various shapes.
On the Chinese territory, the aggregate area of yardang landform amounts to over 20,000 square kilometers, which mainly exist in the northwest of Tsaidam Basin, along the middle & lower reaches of the Shule River, and around the Lop Nur. And, the yardang landform in Dunhuang, originally part of the Lop Nur, presents to mankind a spectacular work of Nature with its large scale (the largest in Asia), high concentration, mature geological configuration, and rich variety of land features,.
Dunhuang Yardang National Geologic Park is situated 180 km to the northwest of downtown Dunhuang. The park covers an area of around 400 square kilometers, spanning 18 km from south to north and around 25 km from east to west. Visitors are feasted with unique and wonderful scenes of the desert. It is an exciting destination especially during the nighttime, as wind blows across the hillocks, producing sounds similar to ghostly screaming. Roads crisscross the park area, making it a grand labyrinth for the explorer.
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