Tian Men Shan Big Gate is the road with 99 turns
Tucked away in northwestern Hunan Province of China, Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road is the name of an extraordinary drive on the limit with 99 turns and steep parts.
How long is Tian Men Shan Big Gate Road?
Set high in the Tianmen Mountain National Park, the road (also called Tianmen Winding Mountain Road) is totally paved, with concrete parts. It’s 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) long running from the bottom at 200m above the sea level, to the top, at 1.300m above sea level. At the top there’s a heaven gate, a natural rock arch that was believed to be the link between the gods and the mortal world—awaits. There are also 999 stairs, called Tianan stairs (also known as Tianti, or the Celestial/Heaven Reaching Ladder), to climb before you reach the peak, where Heaven's Gate—a natural rock arch that was believed to be the link between the gods and the mortal world—awaits. And there's no platforms for stopping. Due to the high elevation of the mountain, the day time is longer than the night hours and the temperature on the mountains is about 10 degree centigrade lower than the Zhangjiajie city, the sunrise on the mountain is 30 minutes earlier and the sunset is 45 minutes later than it is in the city areas.
When was Tian Men Shan Big Gate Road built?
Construction of the road started in 1998 and opened to public in 2006. It’s just wondrous how the Chinese were able to build structures like this and how long they made it. The rhythmically winding sections appear to be stacked. This is a picturesque strip of tarmac over sheer cliff faces and some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. With its 99 steep turns, the road is an exhilarating driving experience. That’s a lot of curves to tackle, with only a few feet separating you from a deadly plunge down the slope.
Is Tian Men Shan Big Gate Road open?
The road is incredibly narrow and winding with extremely narrow tunnels. This road, which spirals rapidly upwards from 200m to 1300m above sea level, offers a view of a long winding road which looks like a dragon ascending from the mountains. Concrete slabs form the surface and provide sufficient adhesion, but also an extremely bumpy surface. Despite its young age, the road has already earned mythical status: the locals speak respectfully of it, winding its way up the mountain like a flying dragon. This road is not open to public traffic (only for some special competitions, such as cycle races). The road is the go-to, out-of-the-way spot for record-setting and demonstrations of vehicle prowess.
Is Tian Men Shan Big Gate Road dangerous?
The driver should be extra careful during the drive. Taking it slow and paying attention to every curve and turn. Not being overly careful could make it too easy to junk a car, or worse injure and even kill passengers. The scenery looks beautiful, but take your eyes off the road for a second, and you’re on the fast way down to the bottom. The roads are scary with many twists and turns and is certainly not for the faint-hearted. What makes it scary is its dangerous curves and turns. The 99 bends have it all: almost every one of them is a tight hairpin curve, separated only by concrete blocks from the steeply sloping abyss.
Is Tian Men Shan Big Gate Road worth it?
The scenery is extremely beautiful but taking your eyes off the road for a second may take you to the actual heaven. If the road is a little too scary for you, there is an alternative. You can take the cable car straight from the city - which they claim is the longest cableway in the world with a distance of 7,455 meters and a height gap of 1,279 metres (4,196 ft) with an unusual gradient of 37 degrees. It’s an absolutely ‘must see’ scenic area. The main featured scenic spots are centralized in the north part of Zhangjiajie City – Wulingyuan Scenic Area which became China‘s first National Forest Park in 1983. Tourists can take the Tianmen Mountain Cableway from Zhangjiajie Railway Station to enjoy the beautiful scenery and get a bird's eye view of the road.
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