Qutang Gorge is the spectacular first of the Three Gorges on the
Yangtze River. It is the shortest, but loftiest of the Three
Gorges, in comparison to the gracefulness of Wu Gorge and the
treacherousness of Xiling Gorge. It is considered as the gateway of
the Yangtze River.
Qutang Gorge is about 500 km (300 miles) northeast, down the
Yangtze, from Chongqing City and about 200 km (130 miles) upriver
from Yichang, in Central China. The gorge stretches 8 kilometers (5
miles) downstream from Baidicheng (White Emperor City), Fengjie
Kuimen (Kui Gate)
There are two bluffs, located at the western end of Qutang Gorge,
rising up steeply to over 1300 meters (4300 feet) on either side of
the Yangtze River. The Yangtze River is only 100 meters (328 feet)
to 200 meters (656 feet) wide here and the narrowest point is only
about 50 meters (164 feet) wide. The two bluffs by the Yangtze
River are like a slightly open gate, which is hence called Kuimen,
or Kui Gate (Fengjie County was called Kui in ancient time.
). Kuimen is a major landmark of the Yangtze River. Therefore
Qutang Gorge is also called Kui Gorge. If you travel downstream, it
is “the gate to the Three Gorges”. Kui Gate is very steep as if
cleaved by a huge and sharp ax, forming a nearly 90 degree angle.
It is really breathtaking to witness. The mighty Yangtze River
becomes a small belt when passing Kuimen and winding through Qutang
After the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the water level at
Kuimen Gate rose about 130 meters (430 feet). However, the peaks
forming the gate are still about 1100 meters (3608 feet) above
Rhinoceros Viewing the Moon
On the north bank of Qutang Gorge, there is a big stone on top of a
mountain. It looks like a rhinoceros facing Kuimen to the west.
When the moon is in the west at night, the stone is looks like a
rhinoceros viewing the moon. It has become one of the famous sights
of Qutang Gorge called Rhinoceros Viewing the Moon.
There are a lot of cultural and historical sites along Qutang
Gorge, including Baidicheng (White Emperor City), which is known as
"the Poet City", where many famous Chinese poets have lived; cliff
inscriptions of the past dynasties and the former residence of
famous Chinese poet, Dufu.
1. Many Yangtze River Cruise routes include a shore excursion
to White Emperor City.
2. Photography. Qutang Gorge is the shortest of the Three
Gorge, so your photo time will be very limited. You should take
time to prepare in advance to avoid missing the highlights of
Qutang Gorge, such as Kui Gate and Rhinoceros Viewing the Moon.
The best way to see Wu Gorge is on a Yangtze Cruise. Read more on
For the best time of year to travel see Yangtze River Weather.
The Lesser Three Gorges