Tiger Leaping Gorge (now THERE is a name that “jumps out” at you!) is located in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area, in southwestern China. This geological marvel is a deep canyon situated on the Jinsha River, which is itself a principal tributary of the Yangtze River. Tiger Leaping Gorge is actually one of the deepest (not to mention incredibly beautiful!) river canyons on earth. Of significant interest is the fact that the canyon is home to a small indigenous population known as the Naxi. Their principal subsistence comes from serving as guides for hikers and tourists.
Tiger Leaping Gorge Geography and Geology
Tiger Leaping Gorge measures approximately 9.3 mi (15 km) in length. It also boasts a maximum depth of approximately 12,434 ft (3,790 m). Wow! That’s “deeper” than Lao Tzu and Sun Tzu combined! The width of both the river and the gorge varies greatly. At one point, Tiger Leaping Gorge narrows to a width of only 82 ft (35 m). The gorge is naturally divided into three separate sections. It is also home to several small waterfalls, as well as a staggering 18 different sections of rapids! Wow….beautiful AND dangerous! The gorge is also a source of numerous types of crystals.
Tiger Leaping Gorge Hazards and Concerns
Though its beauty is undeniable, the terrain of Tiger Leaping Gorge is extremely dangerous (NO surprise, from looking at these photos!). The river itself is considered unnavigable, with numerous deaths occurring among those who have attempted it. Hiking the region is possible though it is only recommended for experienced hikers (understandable!). Over the past 20 years, several extensive dam projects have been proposed for Tiger Leaping Gorge. To date, however (and thankfully) these have been voted down, due to concerns over environmental impact and the displacement of the indigenous peoples.
Todd Sain Sr.