The Duku Highway | A panoramic view of the scenic spots along the Tianshan Mountain

From North Xinjiang to South Xinjiang, the DuKu Highway to the stunning Tianlu Road that runs along the Tianshan Mountain ridge, I recommend to you to travel from the Nalati Grasslands to the Jiuhuan Shiba Wan, and then return to the Tianshan Mountain to visit the majestic Tianchi lakes. These are all must-visit routes for your self-driving journey.

Nalati grassland

Narat Grassland is a mature scenic area with convenient surrounding accommodation and dining facilities. The area is highly commercialized. The scenic area is divided into three routes: Sky Grassland, Valley Grassland, and Panlong Ancient Trail, each with its own entrance fee. Visitors need to purchase tickets at the Narat West Gate Visitor Center and take the shuttle bus to visit each fixed scenic spot. The most popular routes are Sky Grassland and Valley Grassland. The average elevation of Sky Grassland is over 2200 meters, and the grassland appears to be floating in the air, hence the name "Sky Grassland". From the observation points, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of lush greenery, especially in summer when the water and grass are most abundant, creating the best scenery.

Bayinbuluke Grassland

Bainburuk Grassland is the second largest grassland in China. Most of the people who live here are descendants of the famous Mongolian Tuerhute tribe. In the grassland scenic area, you can see the Tuerhute tribe's Donggui Temple and the prayer flags hanging on the oboo. The annual Donggui Nadam Fair is held here in July.

Many twists and turns

In the evening, you can visit the Viewpoint of Baxili (Nine-turn Eighteen Bend) in Brazil and take photos of the sunset over the Kaidu River. If the timing is right, you may see the last rays of the sun reflecting in the winding Kaidu River, creating the illusion of nine suns.

Swan Lake (North Gate)

The deep grassland is Tian'e Lake, the only swan nature reserve in China. Tens of thousands of swans breed and stay here from March to April every year, with a residence period of over six months.

Kuressaare Castle

Go southwest along the Duku Highway for about 40 kilometers, and you will see a sign indicating "Tianshan Stone Forest" on the right. Follow the sign and go deeper for 73 kilometers to reach the Tianshan Stone Forest Scenic Area below the Kuikusu ridge. The stone forest is made of wind-eroded conglomerate sandstone layers, forming a typical "yardang landform" shaped by external forces over a long period of time. The scenery is extremely magnificent.

Dalongchi Tourism Scenic Area

Return to the Duku Highway and continue for about 80 kilometers into the southern Tianshan Mountains, passing by Daxiaolong Lake. Starting from Kuche, about 120 kilometers deep into the Tianshan Mountains, there are two high mountain lakes. They are called Dalong Lake and Xiaolong Lake, with breathtaking scenery. At an altitude of 2390 meters, adjacent to National Highway 217, these two snow-capped lakes are not large in size and have dark green water, like two pearls embedded deep in the Tianshan Mountains.