Located between 10004′-10016’east longitude and 2703′-2740′ north latitude, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Mountain) is the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. Consisting of 13 peaks, among which Shanzidou is the highest one with an altitude of 5,600 meters (18,360 feet), Jade Dragon Snow Mountain stretches a length of 35 kilometers (22 miles) and a width of 20 kilometers (13 miles). Looking from Lijiang Old Town in the south which is 15 kilometers (nine miles) away, the snow-covered and fog-enlaced mountain resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds, hence, the name Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
According to the research of geologists, for about 400 million years the area around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was the ocean and it was during the last 600 thousand years that the different landscapes had come into being because of the uprising of the lithosphere. Archaic legend about this mysterious and beautiful snow mountain goes like this: Once upon a time, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain were twins. They had lived on panning in Golden Sand River until one day an evil fiend usurped the river. The brothers were very brave and had a fierce fight with the fiend, Haba died in the fight and Jade Dragon drove off the fiend after wearing out 13 swords. For guarding the people and preventing the return of the fiend, Jade Dragon held the 13 swords in hands day and night. As time passed, the brothers had turned into the two snow mountains, and the 13 swords had become the 13 peaks. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a holy mountain for the local Naxi people not only because of the legend, but also because long time ago, it was a place for young lovers to sacrifice their young lives in honor of true love and to escape from the arranged marriages and feudal ethics.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a sanctuary for rare animals and wild plants. In fact, one fourth of all plant species in China can be found here and 20 primeval forest communities shelter a big family of 400 types of trees and 30 kinds of animals which are protected by the state. These species live in different temperature levels and create different kinds of views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The 13 peaks, which have the altitudes of at least 4,000 meters, are covered by snow all year round; the mountain is called the “Natural Glacier Museum” for it has all types of glacier. Move down from the mountaintop and you can see rivers and pools, which are formed by the thawed snow water running along the valley and through the forests. The plants and the animals are different according to the altitude, so are the views. Every sight brings you a surprise and every step takes you to a new scene. Each of the meadows on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has its own special character due to their different landscape and height. For instance, Yunshanping (Spruce Plateau) is grassland with gigantic spruces whilst Ganhaizi (Dry Sea) used to be a highland lake as its name tells, the meadow was formed after the water had dried up.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain now is a famous scenic spot for sightseeing, mountaineering, skiing, exploration, scientific research and taking holiday. Besides, widespread legends and myths of the Naxi ethnic minority and the unclimbed Shanzidou are all important attractive spots for those who come to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.