Wu Gorge is the second of the Three Gorges, through which the
Yangtze River flows. It was also called Ba Gorge in ancient times.
It is the most graceful and charming of the Three Gorges, known for
its forest covered mountains and changeable clouds and mists
wreathing around the tops. It is Chinese poets’ favorite among the
Three Gorges, providing the inspiration for a lot of sentimental
and widely prevailing poems.
Wu Gorge rises to about 1000 meters (3280 feet) above river level.
After the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the water level in
Wu Gorge rose about 80 meters (262 feet). Though the raised water
inundated some historical sites, such as a plank road built along
the cliff from Qutang Gorge to Wu Gorge, and many cliff
inscriptions from the past dynasties (which is a great pity), it
doesn’t affect the grace and beauty of Wu Gorge.
Wu Gorge stretches 44 kilometers (27 miles) from Wushan County,
Chongqing Province to Badong County, Hubei Province. It’s about 500
km (300 miles) northeast, down the Yangtze, from Chongqing City and
about 150 km (100 miles) upriver from Yichang, in Central China.
As Wu Gorge is long and narrow and the duration of direct sunshine
is short, the humidity of the gorge usually yields clouds and mists
easily. They waft and wreath around the peaks in
frequently-changing shapes, and are sometimes accompanied by
Buddha's light (a kind of optical phenomenon that can be observed
on cloud-shrouded high mountains).
As a result of the phenomenon a colorful halo surrounds the
observer's own shadow, and thus was often taken to show the
observer's personal enlightenment (associated with Buddha or
divinity). With mists and clouds curling around, Wu Gorge seems
more fascinating and mysterious, when the observer knows the
legends passed down from generation to generation.
The most attractive scenic spot of Wu Gorge is the Twelve Peaks of
Wushan (Wu Mountain) located on both sides of Wu Gorge. Among them,
Shennv Peak (Goddess Peak) is the most famous. It resembles a
lifelike slim and graceful girl standing among the cloud and mist.
As a Chinese legend goes, she was once a goddess who helped people
by controlling floods. It faces east, the first to welcome the
alpenglow and the last to see off the afterglow. Therefore, it is
also called Wangxia Peak (Viewing the Morning or Evening Glow
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