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Yunnan Stone Forest

Listed under Gardens in South China, China.

  • Photo of Yunnan Stone Forest
  • Photo of Yunnan Stone Forest
  • Photo of Yunnan Stone Forest
  • Photo of Yunnan Stone Forest
Photo of Yunnan Stone Forest
Photo by Donna Dawson
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Have you ever seen something so awe-inspiring, that is just takes your breath away? Well, I had that experience when I visited the Yunnan Stone Forest, about 75 kms from Kunming.

Arriving at the entrance, we got on one of the little golf cart type vehicles that would take us around the perimeter of some of the main attractions because we only had so much time and it is a huge area to walk. We could then stop where we wanted and walk around for a better view. It is a peaceful place, with only the sound of the birds to distract you while you try and find the stones that look like animals, people and whatever else your imagination can discover. I enjoyed seeing what was growing in this area and was pleasantly surprised to see bougainvillea in bright fuchsia. The workers were there at the time clearing an area of tall native plants all by hand…I was amazed. Everything in nice neat bundles, perhaps to be used for kindling?

There are a couple of beautiful serene lakes and the reflections of the stones on the water made it a truly magical place to be. I cannot tell you what it was like standing in an area that was proved by researchers to be at least 270 million years old. What stories these stones could tell, and I expect that the Chinese people have many stories to tell about the stones. There is one rock that has particular significance here and that is the rock of Ashima. It resembles a girl with a covering on her head and a basket on her back. I am sure once you visit you will find out what her story is and might even be surprised to know that much has been written about her as well as dances and performances and even film. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what it is…

Wandering around this unique place I could not help but wonder what it must have been like when it was ‘growing’. The area used to be an ocean and from about 230 million years ago until 2 million years ago, the ocean disappeared and these limestone rocks emerged. During their life they have changed, all affected by water, into these shapes that we see today. Standing high on a peak, you can only appreciate very little of what this forest has to offer, but it sure does give you a view unlike no other in the world.

The gem we discovered was on our way back, and that was a community of people who all support women working either in a co-op or from home, producing some of the most exquisite silk embroidery work that I have ever seen. I include some of the photographs that I took while there, and yes, I could not help myself, I brought one home to hang as a constant reminder of what this beautiful country means to me. Please visit to read the rest of the story…

Written by  Donna Dawson.

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The Stone Forest

Narrow pillars and stalagmite like peaks create a dense forest of stone covering 300 square kms of China’s Yunnan Province. Thousands of stones of all shapes and sizes create a maze like environment as they rise abruptly from this otherwise green countryside, some sharp and jagged, some sloping and dome like.

Local stories and legends have become attached to some of the stones, especially those resembling people or animals and there are many local myths about the forest’s creation.

Forests exist below as well as above ground cave systems with the same formations mirror the surface, but underground this kind of rock formation looks much more familiar.

The Science: The land that is now covered in these strange stone pillars and ‘trees’ was once, 270 million years ago, under water and was formed from sea floor sediment. Once it was exposed to the air erosion did the rest.

Located on the outskirts of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province.

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