Tianmen Mountain glass skywalk opens to the public

Acrophobics beware: China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park just got a little bit (or a lot) more terrifying.

August 22, 2016 |

Tianmen Mountain cable cars and Tongtian Avenue. Photo: Huangdan2060, Wikimedia Public Domain.

The thought of walking along a five-foot-wide path coiled around the side of a mountain like a python on its prey while suspended 4,600 feet in the air is enough to make many people get a bit wobbly in the knees. But take that same path, and give it a clear glass bottom, and even those who deny a fear of heights may begin to sweat a little.

Well, now you don’t have to just imagine this path, you can experience it. The Coiling Dragon Cliff recently opened on Tianmen Mountain in the southern Chinese province of Hunan and offers tourists a chance to venture along a 100-meter-long, glass-bottomed walkway floating over a 4,600-foot drop.

In addition to surreal views of the surrounding mountainous landscape, the walkway overlooks Tongtian Avenue, a winding, 99-turn road weaving back and forth up the mountain. The new Coiling Dragon Cliff joins Zhangjiajie National Forest Park’s two other skywalks and the longest glass-bottomed bridge (1,410 feet) in the world.

If that still hasn’t satiated your inner daredevil, a cable car that picks people up at a nearby railroad and deposits them at the top of Tianmen Mountain, a ride totaling around 30 minutes from start to finish and one that is said to be the world's longest cable car ride, is also among the mountain's attractions.

Naturally, the first question that pops into most people’s minds with glass-bottomed structures is safety. And in an effort to prove just how safe these glass-bottomed structures are, park authorities deliberately cracked the glass of one of the bridge’s panels and drove a Volvo XC90, which has a curb weight around 4,300 pounds, over it.

They also treated the glass like a "Test Your Strength" carnival game and smashed it with sledgehammers. None of the tests resulted in completely breaking through any of the three layers of glass.

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