Article by XIANEASE
We, your well-traveled friends at Xianease, write a lot about the wonderful city of Xi’an, but this month we thought we’d strike out into the Shaanxi countryside for a bit of something different. Just outside Baoji lies the Guanshan Pasture (or “Grassland,” but we like Pasture better). Perfect for a two-day trip, it’s quite popular with Chinese tourists and has a lot of surprises in store.
The history of the Guanshan Pasture goes back nearly 3000 years, to the beginning of the Dynastic Era. Throughout that time it was a location of great strategic importance, as a place for animal husbandry and horse grazing for a dynasty’s cavalries. As armed conflict began to subside, the Pasture’s usages became more placid to match its peaceful landscape: as private grazing for the horses of the royal family; as the cradle of an entire industry of horse wranglers; and in the 1950s as a place to hybridize a new breed of horse.
The Guanshan Pasture is a pasture. That much is obvious. But the name fails to capture the totality of its beauty. Scenic meadows, dense forests and rolling hills ebb and flow between mountain ridges. There are several rivers and streams running through it as well. It’s often compared to certain sections of the Alps, in Europe. The weather is pleasant to match—commonly, it’s about ten degrees cooler on average than it would be in Xi’an, making it a great place for a summer escape.
WHAT TO DO?
A nice, cool, beautiful landscape is a decent draw for us city slickers, but many of us require that there’s more to do than walk around a field for a weekend. In keeping with its equestrian traditions, there are a multitude of horses on the Guanshan Pasture, several hundred of which are trained and reserved specifically for visitors to ride. But if tear-assing around on horseback pretending you’re a Qin cavalry general isn’t your bag, there’s a little more on offer. Anyone so inspired by the latest Avengers movie can try their hand at archery; there’s a high-altitude zip line (which undergoes regular inspections); there’s a bit of skiing (but that’s for wintertime); and there’s something that we’re choosing to translate as “grass sliding,” which is apparently like skiing if skiing happened without snow and required crazy-looking rollerblades. If you’re a less active tourist, there’s something for you as well. There are “bonfire parties”; you can try some local roast lamb; and there are the requisite traditional song-and-dance performances.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are two main ways to get to Guanshan Pasture from Xi’an. The first would be to take a bus from Xi’an West Bus Station to Longxian County, and then a short taxi ride from there. Alternatively, you could take the train to Baoji, then a bus from Baoji North Bus Station to Longxian County, then a taxi—but then again, it’s about the same amount of travel time so the one bus from Xi’an might be your best bet.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a couple of notable places to stay when at the Pasture, such as the “Camp Hotel,” which will put you up in triangle houses, and the Guanshan Kaibin Hotel. However, if you want to explore your options, check C-Trip or Feizhu for the most up-to-date options—give Trip Advisor a miss for this though, as they’ll send you all the way back to Baoji to find a hotel.
Know any other great destinations?
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