A’ershan Forest National Park, Inner Mongolia

Explore the A’ershan National Forest Park, a natural reserve that contains volcanic landscapes, mountaintop lakes, deep forests, grasslands, rivers, and mineral-rich springs.

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A crater lake surrounded by pines at the A’ershan National Forest Park, Inner Mongolia
A crater lake surrounded by pines at the A’ershan National Forest Park.

A’ershan Forest National Park

A’ershan Forest National Park is a 100,000+ hectare nature reserve in northeastern Inner Mongolia famous for its volcanic landscapes, mountaintop lakes, deep forests, grasslands, rivers, and mineral-rich springs. The park infrastructure is well developed, with boardwalks and paths leading to the key scenic areas.

The nearest town is also named A’ershan: a 3–4 hour drive through small grasslands towns and vast fields and plains from the airport at Ulan Hot. The population of A’ershan is somewhat seasonal, with more people about during the warmer summer months—not surprising, when January sees an average high of -17.8°C!

A'ershan is the pinyin for the phonetic representation of the Mongolian name for the area after it's been converted into sounds that occur in the Chinese language. The Mongolian name means 'spring', or 'spa', and sounds a bit like 'Ar-shan'.

Trip overview

Day One Fly to Ulan Hot; drive to A’ershan; hill walking from Rose Peak to Black Stone Peak.
Day Two Full day in A’ershan Forest National Park, visiting crater lakes and lava flow area.
Day Three Hike in hills and forest near A’ershan City; hot springs; drive to Ulan Hot.
Day Four Visit Genghis Khan Park in Ulan Hot; fly to Beijing.


Rock outcrops near Rose Peak, Aershan, Inner Mongolia

Rock outcrops on the ridges near Rose Peak. View another photo of the rock at Rose Peak

Rose Peak hike

Hike statistics

Distance: 4.5km
Time: approx. 2 hours
Start height: 869m
Highest point: 1,086m
Total ascent/descent: 240m
Finish height: 867m

Rose Peak is a large outcrop of rose-coloured rock that protrudes from one of the lines of hills that surround A’ershan City. For fans of geology, the type of rock is granosyenite. Rose Peak is the start point of a scenic hike that will take us through the hills and past other strangely shaped rock formations formed by strong erosion and frost weathering.

The hike is not a long one, but starts with a fairly steep climb up past the big rocks of Rose Peak. The climb gets us up on to the ridgeline, and thereafter the ups and downs are more gradual. We follow the ridgeline past forested hills up to a peak, and then walk down and out a valley to finish, passing a few farm houses on the way.

Azalea Lake, Aershan National Forest Park, Inner Mongolia

Pines behind Azalea Lake, inside the A'ershan National Forest Park. View another photo of Azalea Lake

A'ershan Forest National Park ‘Heavenly’ Crater Lakes

A'ershan Forest National Park is huge, and some of the key places to visit are somewhat spread out. We'll drive between each, getting out for walks of 1–2km. We'll break up the sightseeing with a big lunch at a restaurant in the park.

At 1,332m above sea level, A’ershan Tian Chi is the third highest of China’s many ‘Heavenly Lakes’. The lake itself is a volcanic crater of the Maar type, formed an estimated 200,000–300,000 years ago. Maar-type craters are formed after explosions caused by contact between lava and groundwater, and commonly become lakes. A’ershan Tian Chi is surrounded by thick forest and is a deep-blue colour. It is not a large lake (0.3 sq/km) but is said to have a depth of more than 300m. The water level remains constant throughout the year, rain or shine.

We’ll visit another two of the crater lakes on our way through the park, and if there's time we'll take a walk up a trail by one of the rivers as well.

Lava area

A hiker walks on the boardwalk through the lava area of the A'ershan National Forest Park, Inner Mongolia

A hiker follows the boardwalk through the natural habitat that has grown up on the lava beds.

Aside from the lakes, forests, and hills, the A’ershan National Forest Park has an interesting area where lava flows solidified. A boardwalk has been constructed to allow visitors to explore without damaging the delicate environment that has since grown up on top of the lava. The boardwalk leads through a forest and by smaller lakes, with signs giving extra information about special things to look out for.

A’ershan Hot Springs

Mineral-rich springs well up from as far as 3,000m below, part of a 50-year cycle between the surface and the underground – some of the springs are hot, some warm, and some cold. Aside from being a pleasant spot to soak, the minerals in the water are said to have health benefits. We include a soak at the springs as part of the trip, not coincidentally after one of the hikes.

Hike statistics

Distance: 4.6km
Time: approx. 2 hours
Start height: 1,003m
Highest point: 1,165m
Total ascent/descent: 208m
Total descent: 241m
Finish height: 990m

Springs Hike
We'll take a stroll up into the hills in front of our hotel, walking through A'ershan Town on the way to the start of the trail. Another fairly steep climb gets us up on to the ridgeline; after that the trail is mainly flat, passing through pine forests and following a firebreak on the way to a small hill trail that takes us down a steep slope and over train tracks. The hike finishes by a clear spring, which is supposedly healthy and good for drinking. Our bus will meet us here and drive us back to the hot springs in town, where we'll have a soak before a big lunch.
View 4 photos from the Springs Hike


August in A’ershan feels a lot like spring and autumn in Beijing: an average high of 21.3°C, and an average low of 8.2°C. There’s a reasonable chance of rain. The climate of Inner Mongolia is described as ‘variable’. Be prepared for a variety of situations: heat, cold, rain, wind, and perhaps even a little snow.


We will be staying two nights in a 4-star hotel in A’ershan, and one night in a 4-star hotel in Ulan Hot.

You’ll be sharing a room at the hotel with another hiker. If you'd like a hotel room to yourself, it can be arranged at an extra cost of 750 RMB, if a room is available—usually not a problem!

Further details about room shares and single supplement can be found in the documents we send you as part of the registration.

Flights and transport

We’ll fly to and from Ulan Hot. Transport to, from and inside A’ershan National Forest Park will be by private bus.

Frequent flyers: Please let us know if you would like to use your frequent flyer miles or if you are a frequent flyer member. If you would like to organise your own flights, we can provide further details.


A big meal at a local restaurant

Unless otherwise specified, we will take most of our meals at restaurants. We’ll be eating Chinese- and Mongolian-style food. Bring some spending money for snacks during the trip.

At one of the restaurants we visited in 2010, we were offered a local delicacy – ant omelette!

Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

Things to bring

  • Waterproof outer jacket and trousers
  • Thermal underwear and other warm clothing, including gloves and a hat
  • Hiking boots
  • Regular hiking equipment (socks, etc.)
  • A day pack to take on outings. Suitcases or bigger bags can be left at the hotel.

Full itinerary

  1. Day 1
    06:00 — Meet at Beijing Capital Airport for a 7:20am flight (exact time T.B.D.)
    09:05 — Arrive at Ulan Hot Airport
    09:20 — Drive to A’ershan
    13:30 — Arrive at the Aershan Hotel, check in and have lunch
    14:30 — Hike from Rose Peak to Black Stone Peak
    17:30 — Back at the hotel.
    18:00 — Free time to walk about A’ershan city
    19:30 — Dinner at a local restaurant

  2. Day 2
    08:00 — Breakfast at hotel, drive to the A’ershan National Forest Park
    10:30 — Arrive at A’ershan National Forest Park
    11:00 — Visit Camel Peak
    13:00 — Visit Cuckoo Lake
    14:00 — Restaurant lunch
    15:00 — Visit ‘Little’ Heavenly Lake and Lava area
    17:00 — Drive back to the A’ershan Hotel
    19:00 — Dinner at restaurant

  3. Day 3
    08:30 — Breakfast at hotel
    09:30 — Hike in hills and forest near A’ershan
    11:30 — Check out of hotel, walk to hot springs
    11:45 — Hot Springs
    13:00 — Lunch
    14:30 — Drive to Ulan Hot
    18:00 — Check in at Ulan Hot hotel
    19:30 — Dinner

  4. Day 4
    08:30 — Breakfast, drive to Genghis Khan Park
    10:00 — Fly to Beijing (exact time T.B.C.)
    12:00 — Arrive in Beijing (exact time T.B.C.)
    All times are approximate, and depend on our speed of movement.

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Photos and trip reports: A’ershan Forest National Park, Inner Mongolia

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