China’s most famous stone forest （石林）is located in Yunnan Province about 3 hours outside of Kunming. It’s massive and from what I hear well worth a visit. Chongqing’s stone forest, on the other hand, is virtually unknown. And some locals might tell you it’s not really worth the 3.5 hour drive from the city （没什么好玩儿 is not an uncommon response). However, we were pleasantly surprised.
Dating back to 600 million years ago (claimed by the park; hyperbole, perhaps, though perhaps not), Chongqing’s Wansheng Stone Forest （万盛石林）is a whopping 200 million years older than Yunnan’s Lunan Stone Forest （路南石林）. So take that Yunnan!
You can easily spend about 3-4 hours walking around the maze of stone pillars. Heading in with little to no expectations, the Wansheng stone forest really was quite inspiring in terms of scale and coolness factor of the rock formations. Moreover, the park was basically empty on a Sunday afternoon (bear in mind we went in the winter), which made for a truly peaceful wandering experience.
We went on a typical smoggy/foggy Chongqing day, and it still felt good to be outside. 3.5 hours outside of the city you won’t find sunshine necessarily, but the air will smell/taste a little less sour.
Walking through the rocks, you can see the layers of age etched into the stone like the rings of a tree trunk. When you look around the surrounding area, it really is quite amazing because this stone forest seemingly just appears out of nowhere amidst an otherwise normal Sichuan countryside.
Around lunch time we stopped at one of the many benches lining the pathways. A very affectionate and chill dog joined us. There really isn’t much in the way of eateries in the stone forest (aside from your standard assorted meat hot dog and 快速面), so it’s a good idea to pack a lunch.
The textures on the rocks are quite exquisite. A lot of the rocks look like dinosaurs or some other scale encased creature.
In the middle of the park is a lake, which has stepping stones that you can hop along to walk over the lake. Leaping from stone to stone is shockingly entertaining, especially if you’re a child at heart (we also had a middle-schooler with us who loved it).
The tea house by the lake is also a nice spot to relax and enjoy the geological wonderland you’re in. It was closed for the winter while we were there, but looked pretty nice nonetheless.
Below is the grass ski course. We really wanted to try it out, but again this was closed for the winter. Apparently you ski down on what are basically giant rollerblades. The grass was surprisingly slippery and soft, as you could somewhat coast down even on flat shoes. I can only imagine how fun it would be when filled with kids (and adults) falling on their faces.
If grass skiing isn’t your thing, then definitely take the slide down the hill back to the parking lot. It’s one of those where you sit on a blanket going down a plastic slide. The course is short, but absolutely fun and beats walking down for sure.
If you happen to have an open weekend in Chongqing, I’d definitely put this on a potential to-do list. The stone forest, Wulong’s karst bridges, and Jindao gorge would make a pretty awesome 3-day Chongqing itinerary.
It’s always a bit surreal doing day trips out of Chongqing. When you’re out in the countryside you easily forget about the concrete and steel mega-tropolis that’s waiting for you in the evening. Driving back home, as one 40-story building after another appears, you get that combined feeling of dread and wonder. And when coming back during sunset, the smoggy/foggy city has a sort of haunting beauty to it.
Finding Wansheng Stone Forest on a Map