Shennongjia (Shénnóngjià, 神农架) is Hubei's foremost natural attraction. Forests of metasequoias and Chinese tulip trees here play host to a remarkable 1,300 species of medicinal plants, not to mention 500 species of wild animals, including rare golden monkeys and giant salamanders. Capricious evolution has also contrived to produce an unusual concentration of white species, such as white bears, monkeys, snakes and deer.

The most elusive of Shennongjia's denizens is the yěrén (野人), central China's own Yeti, whose legend is corroborated or perpetuated, depending on one's view of the evidence, by the occasional finding of Gigantopithecus-sized footprints and at least 200 sightings.

Of the park's four sections, foreigners are allowed into just one, south of the Yazikou Junction (admission RMB 140), but it comprises the UNESCO-listed Shennongjia National Nature Reserve. The area is large and there is plentiful trekking, cycling and camping to be done around the park's caves, waterfalls and picturesque forests.

Xaiolongtan and Dalongtan, with their abundant wildlife, come highly recommended. Shannongding, the highest peak in central China at 3,105 m (10,187 ft), is your destination of choice for challenging hikes up to celestial views of a mountainous empyrean from the peak.

For foreigners, access to Shannongjia is secured through the small town of Muyu, well-versed in tourism, about 14 km (8.5 mi) out from Yazikou. Visitors should note that foreign ATM cards will not work anywhere in this village, so make sure to stock up on RMB before you arrive.

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