Magnificent Hukou Waterfall on the Yellow River

Hukou Waterfall is the national 4A scenic area. As an attraction lies on the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi Province, Hukou Waterfall is 350km to Xi’an and 387km to Taiyuan. Visitors can put this world’s natural spectacular on your list whether you are on a trip to Xi’an or Shanxi.

“Hukou” in Chinese means the spout of the water kettle. The waterfall here was named so because, in the waterfall area, the original 300m wide Yellow River is narrowed to 20-30m side. The water velocity in the waterfall area is 1000m3/s and the cliff that bears the waterfall is 20+ meters high. Yellow River is the 2nd largest waterfall in China and the largest yellow waterfall in the world.

Hukou Waterfall in Yan'an
The majestic Hukou Waterfall

Hukou Waterfall Facts

  • Location: Within the Yellow River’s bed in the Qinjin Grand Canyon. Its east lies the Linfen area of Shanxi Province, while its west is Yanchuan County in Yan’an, Shaanxi Province.
  • Best time to go: April – May, September – November
  • Time needed: About 2 hours
  • Ticket price: CNY 90 per person
  • Opening hours: 8:00-18:00

Main Features of Hukou Waterfall

The Hukou Waterfall features many fascinating waterscapes for instance: smoke-like mist rising from 1he bottom of the water while the boat is going along the dry land and you’ll see rain-drops in a fine day and rainbows without haze or mist. When the torrential waterfall rushes down it strikes up mists to rise into the sky, which looks very much like thick smoke rising up from underwater and you can see the strange scape even at a distance of some five kilometers away.

Hukou Waterfall
Hukou Waterfall

When the mist rises into the sky it refracts the sunshine in different ways, forming various shapes of rainbow in the air, sometimes shaping like an arc plunging from the sky directly down into the water, it seems to be long dragon playing above the water; and sometimes like a colored ribbon lying over waves whereas at some other times there appear from among the thick mists piles of silk brocades.

The sudden change of the waterscape presents no fixed form, making you feel strange and puzzled, being charmed away. The suspended waterfall cascading and splashing produces loud roars as thought they were peals of thunder in the sky, which can be heard even at a distance pf several kilometers away.

Scenes in Different Seasons

The Hukou Waterfall presents different scenes along with the changing of seasons of the time.

  • In spring when the ice begins to thaw, the icicles falling down cracking as though they were the breaking up of the mountain and the earth or the rumbling of guns and peals of thunder.
  • In the rainy season of summer the torrents of water rush on with yellow waves rising into the air, the waterfall extending as wide as some 100 meters with mists seen over an area of a dozen of kilometers around.
  • The winter brings the ice and snow to the area and the waterfall are decorated with myriads of icicles. Clad in silvery white the area becomes even more charming and fascinating.

Differences of Hukou Waterfall View from Shanxi Side & Shaanxi Side

Both the scenes of Hukou Waterfall from Shanxi Side and Shaanxi side are impressive. Below are some differences in the views from each side:

  • Hukou Waterfall Shanxi side boasts a width of 3 km, and a massive sight and misty atmosphere, while the Shaanxi side is narrower, with the water running more intense amidst the rugged landscape of mountains and valleys.
  • In the Shanxi side, the surroundings are relatively flat, with boat tours available, allowing visitors many cultural experiences. While in the Shaanxi side, the landscape is more rugged, visitors can hike immerse themselves in the rugged natural beauty.

What to See and Do at the Hukou Waterfall Scenic Areas

Visit the Dragon Cave in Shanxi Side

The Dragon Cave in the Hukou Waterfall Scenic Area in Shanxi offers a unique perspective of the waterfall from below. Visitors can descend to the bottom of the Dragon Cave to marvel at the roaring water in a close distance and witness spectacle of the Yellow River cascading straight down.

Admire the Scene of Smoking from the Water’s Bottom (from both sides) (水底冒烟)

At the Hukou Waterfall section, the turbulent flow of the Yellow River generates a mist rising high into the air, which looks like smoke billowing from the bottom of the water. This phenomenon is called “smoking from the water’s bottom”, and is most captivating during spring and autumn when the water is moderate and the waterfall drop exceeds 20 meters.

Enjoy the Ten-mile Dragon Trough (十里龙槽)

The Ten-mile Dragon Trough is a remarkable feature at the Hukou to Mengmen section. Since the flow rate increases to several thousand cubic meters per second after the Hukou Waterfall, the Yellow River cuts the 400-meter-wide canon of this section into a trench of 30-50 meters wide and 10-20 meters deep.  Legend has it that this trench was carved by a dragon, hence its name “Ten-Li Dragon Trough,” also known as the “Ten-Li Dragon Moat.”

During non-flood periods, the adjacent riverbed in this section become the banks of the river. The banks are flat and wide, and composed of hard sandstone, the “land boating” (旱地行船) just takes advantage of this geological feature.

Marvel at Rainbow Soaring (彩虹飞渡)

The intense cascading water creates a shimmering mist when the torrents crash against the rugged cliffs. When the mesmerizing mist catches the sunlight just right, the Rainbow Soaring emerges.  This is nature’s artistry with vivid colors of the rainbow painting the sky above the waterfall in a magnificent display of beauty and wonder. It is said that people who are fortunate enough to witness the Rainbow Soaring at Hukou will be blessed with a life of abnundance and fulfillment.

Hukou Waterfall
Hukou Waterfall

Experience the Live-action Performances of The Yellow River Cantata (at Shaanxi Side)

With the Hukou Waterfall in Shaanxi Province as backdrop, the performance offers an insights into the Yellow River culture and folk customs. Through a combination of live performances, including song, dance, poetry, and scenic design, the performance offers a unique aspect of folk culture in northern Shaanxi and a glimpse into the spirit of revolutionary resistance during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.

It takes place daily at 5:00 PM, with a duration of 45 minutes, and is divided into four chapters.

Best Time to Visit Hukou Waterfall

  • April to May in spring is one of the best times to visit Hukou Waterfall when the peach blossoms in the surrounding mountains are in full bloom and the ice on the waterfall gradually melts.
  • September to November in autumn is another great time when the rainy season brings the peak flow of the waterfall, showing majestic beauty.
  • Winter is the season when the waterfall is partly forzen, and covered with crystal-like ice, offering great photo opportunities.

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