The Flaming Mountain is located in north Turphan Basin of Xinjiang Province. The Flame Mountain starts from Langan Quicksand River of Shanshan County and ends at the Peach Channel in the Turpan Basin.
It lies 10 km east of Turpan city, covering about 100 km from east to west with a width of 9 km. The average height is 500m, but the high peak (831 meter) rises above Shengjinkou, a vital pass of the ancient city of Gaochang. The mountain is combination of red sand and rocks that makes the mountain looks like a red dragon sleeping on the area basin.
If you look the mountain from a distance, under the sunlight, the heat wave and the floating clouds will make you have the illusion that the mountain is on fire as tongues of fire. Every summer when the sun shines, the mountain could reach 80°C in temperature. A huge thermometer at the centre of the Flaming Mountain Museum will show you how hot it is. People from Xin Jiang Province said, "You can fry eggs in the sand and bake the bread in the wilderness". In winter, when the snow falls, the mountain will remain its appearance without any snow or ice on it.
At the foot of the mountain are several hidden valleys that contrast with the desert that surrounding the mountain. The natural conditions of these valleys, which abound with various plants and trees, are quite different. The most famous ones include Grape Valley, Peach Valley, Wood Valley and Shengjinkou Valley.
Many clear spring water flows out of the ground are used to irrigate the entire valley. People live in the area depend on those springs, they also use it to farm lands and grow crops like grapes, peach, melon etc. This green valley is rich with waters, villages and sweet tasting fruits, the valley are likes a green precious stone lying in the gate of the red flaming hills, the views are magnificent.
In addition to this, there are other scenic spots inside the Flame Mountain Tourist Zone including the Shengjinkou Canyon, Horse Fastening Stake, Foot Resting Stone, the Group Sculpture of the Pilgrimage of Xuanzang. The grotto and fresco of Tang Dynasty and Han Dynasty and other cultural sites and so on.
In the commercial area you can find crafts people with a wide range of products that celebrate the cultural, folk, regional folk memory. Souvenir like knives, hats, flowers, palm leaves, fans, thermometers, etc..
There are many old legendary stories make this mountain unique, attractive and with lots of room for wild imagination. The mountain is popular thanks to a classical novel, "The Journey to the West" written in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by writer Wu Cheng'en, which fascinated by his famous and its charming hero The Monkey King.
The monkey king in the novel kicked over an elixir oven in the heaven while fighting with gods, charcoals fell onto the mountain and started a lasting fire, and then he extinguished the flame with a magic fan.
According to the Uigur version, a vicious dragon lived in deep Tianshan Mountain and ate little children. A Uigur hero fought gallantly against the dragon for three days and three nights and cut the dragon into eight parts. With the red sun overhead, thermal air currents rising, red sandstone gives out red light looks like a fiery dragon. The remains of the dragon turned to a scarlet mountain colored by its blood. The eight scars turned into the eight valleys in the Flaming Mountain; including the famous Grape Valley.
Scientific explanation cites tectonic plate movement on the earth's surface during the formation of the Himalayas 50,000,000 years ago. Many years of volcanic activity have formed the unique crisscrossing gullies and ravines.
Flaming mountain is the hottest place in China and highest temperature sometimes climbs to 48 degree centigrade and temperature on the earth face occasionally reaches over 70 degree centigrade.
Detailed explanations of the history of Flaming Mountain, its geology as well as the legend are displayed in its museum, The Gaochang Celebrity Historical Museum.