Located in the Lunan Yi Autonomous County of Yunnan Province, the Stone Forest covers an immense area of 2,670 square kilometers. It is often referred to as the “first wonder of the world”, forming anywhere from 2-30 million years ago. The vast expanse of land is separated into several scenic areas including the Greater Stone Forest, Lesser Stone Forest, Outer Stone Forest, Underground Stone Forest, Stone Forest Lake, and Da Dieshui Fall.
Natural processes of weathering and erosion have led to the formation of peaks, pillars, stalagmites, depressions, underground rivers, and caves. Tall, narrow pillar-like limestone formations rise nearly 30 meters from the ground. The countless formations that spring forth from the earth resemble sheets, swords raised towards the sky, and even affectionate figures standing in pairs leaning towards one another. A number of scenic attractions can be found within the park including Lion Arbor, Sword Peak Pond, Lotus Peak, Moon Lake, Jade Lake, and Dadie Waterfall.
The forest holds great significance for the Sani people who consider it their home. For this reason, many legends and myths have been passed on for generations to explain the formations and geological wonders that exist within the forest. One legend in particular tells the story of Ashma, a heroine well known in traditional Sani poetry. In the Lesser Stone Forest there stands a slender piece of rock resembling a slim, beautiful woman. The legend goes that the slim figure, Ashma, refused to marry her landlord to whom she was promised. Alongside her true love, Ahei, she fought against the landlord and was able to escape, finding refuge in the Stone Forest. The landlord, who was a very powerful man, summoned the stone demon to create a flood that drowned the young heroine, who then transformed eternally into the beautiful stone figure.
The Stone Forest is home also to the Yi minority tribe. Along with the Sani people, the two communities are highly skilled dancers, musicians, and craftsmen. A visit to the forest is a beautiful experience that reveals the peaceful, picturesque lifestyle of those who live within the forest’s unique landscapes.