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Just In Time For The Sequel, Visit The Breathtaking Mountains That Inspired “Avatar”

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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The groundbreaking film, Avatar, struck a chord with audiences for many reasons. The fantastical world created by James Cameron took us on an unforgettable ride, soaring through jagged rock formations that ascended from the forest floor. Now known as the ‘Avatar mountains’, Zhangjiajie National Park is touted as the Grand Canyon of China, located in the northwest corner of China’s Hunan province.

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If you are willing to brave the heights, the Bailong Glass Elevator, which translates to “Hundreds Dragons Elevator”, was built on the side of a rock face and transports visitors to the top of the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie Park. The elevator was inducted into the Guinness World Records as “the highest, the fastest, largest-loaded outdoor elevator in the world”. From here, you will have a clear view of the more than 3,000 otherworldly quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks that mesmerized viewers on the big screen.

Bailong Glass Elevator | topchinatravel.com

The park also includes the world’s longest cable car ride to the top of Tianmen Mountain and “Heaven’s Gate Hole”, a visually-striking glass walkway that stretches between two cliffs, is 1,000 feet tall, and over 1,400 feet long.

cable cars at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park | golero | Getty Images
Glass Bridge, Zhangjiajie, CHunan, China | MediaProduction | Getty Images

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The site sees millions of local and international visitors a year. The best time to visit the first natural Chinese site to be inscribed as a UNESCO Heritage List in May and June to avoid Chinese holidays and popular vacation times. As far as Avatar 2, the release date is listed as December 2021, giving you plenty of time to plan and experience this magical place in person before seeing how Cameron transforms it on the big screen.  

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