Road Tianmen mountain, a scenic route in China.

Tianmen mountain scenic road in China
The Tianmen road

The Road Tianmen mountain which in Chinese means Winding Mountain Road is also called Heaven’s Gate or the Dragon road by locals. It a very famous and scenic place in China.

Why is the scenic Tianmen mountain so famous?

The famous Winding or TianMen Mountain road is an ascension of 11 kilometers (6.9 miles) long. The construction of the road debuted in 1998 and finished in 2004, so it took 6 years for engineers to built this amazing and unique way. The drive will take approximately 40 minutes.

It has more than 1000 meters (3280 ft) of positive elevation as it starts at 200 meters (655 ft) above the sea and finishes at more than 1200 meters (3930 ft). The Tianmen Mountain is 1512 meters (4983 ft) high.

It is very famous because of its 99 turns. Many of them are 180 degrees turns.

The Road Tianmen mountain is considered one of the most beautiful but also one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Local drivers drive very fast and the road is only separated from the ravines by safety concrete blocks. So, if you are nervous about it, prefer the ascent to the descent: the drivers will go slower.

The maximal gradient of the road is close to 37 degrees at some passages. So fasten your seat belt!

This road is so scenic and well known that it is often used for races or test drives. For example, Red Bull organizes a drift show there and Land Rover tests some of their cars on this road (they even beat a speed record detained by a Ferrari with their Range Rover Sport SVR: 40 seconds less than Ferrari 458 Italia!).


Enlarge the map

Things to do in Tianmen Mountain.

The Tianmen Mountain is the first Chinese area that became a national forest park in 1992 thanks to its lush vegetation and become .

Cable car

The Cable car that goes to the top of the mountain is one of the longest in the world. It is about 7500 meters (24600 ft) long and has a gradient of more than 1250 meters (4100 ft).

It allows the transportation of 1000 passengers per hour and moves with a speed of 6 meters (20 ft) per second.

The view from the cabines is stunning!

Tianmen Cave

The cave is located at 1265 meters (4150 ft) above the sea level. This cave is natural and forms an open cavity of 131 meters (430 ft) high by 37 meters (121 ft) wide and 30 meters (98 ft) deep.

As you can see in the picture, the cave forms an opening into the sky and that’s why it’s also called the Sky Gate Mountain.

To access the cave you will have to take the cable car (or the bus shuttle) and then climb the 999 stairs. This may seem impressive at first glance, but it is not too hard.

Sky Gate Mountain in China
728Sky Gate Mountain

Buddhist temple

At the top of the mountain, there is also a Buddhist temple that deserves the visit. The imposing architecture dates from the Tang dynasty.

Skywalk for thrill seekers.

One of the most famous attractions there is definitely the Skywalk: an impressive mountainside trail made with glass.

You will walk on a 60 meters long (196 ft) and 1.5 meters large (5 ft) glass platform and will be able to see the void below.

Skywalk in tianmen mountain china
Skywalk in Tianmen

If you don’t feel dizzy at the skywalk, you can also walk on the famous longest glass bridge over the canyon (made with glass panels). On this bridge, you can admire a superb landscape and have a gap of 1400 meters (4600 ft) below your feet.

Tianmen glass bridge in china
Glass Bridge in Tianmen

The area is also very well known for its vegetation. The creators of the Avatar movie film a lot of landscapes in this region.

How to get to Tianmen mountain.

To access the Road Tianmen mountain mountain get to Zhangjiajie city in the Hunan Province.

There, take the S306 road to the south and follow the Tianmen mountain direction. Then, you will get to Tian men road (Y104 road). It’s located approximately 7km (4.3 miles) from the city.

If you want to take the cable car, it’s very easy: the start is near the center of Zhangjiajie city.

Video of the drive of the the road:

You can watch this video in order to have an idea of what you can expect from a bus drive on the Dragon road!

If you are more in a rally mood you can also see this video for the whole road ascension:

Is the Road Tianmen mountain open?

The Road Tianmen mountain is open all year round for tourists buses, although it’s generally closed for “normal” traffic”. If you are a cyclist fan, note that the local authorities close the Dragon road often for cycle races.

Here are the opening time and prices for the complex of Tianmen mountain:

  • From April to October: 8 am to 6 pm, approximately 260 CNY (including the cable).
  • From November to March: 8.30 am to 6.30 pm, approximately 240 CNY (including the cable).

If you want to walk on the famous skywalk (a path made with glass, read our section about it), you will have to pay an extra 10 NCY but it is definitely worth it!

Pictures source: Opui42 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), expedia, By David Wood – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18212199,


Discover other roads in Asia: click here or use our road travel map.