Qutang Gorge is the shortest of the Three Gorges (8 kilometers). It is considered the most dramatic by many visitors. The river navigates through the gorge's sheer, steep cliffs where the Meng Liang staircase from the Song Dynasty can be seen. Qutang Gorge starts at the White Emperor City in the west and ending at Daxi Stream in the east with a distance of 8 kilometers.
The width of the river in Qutang Gorge is reduced to 100 - 200 meters and the narrowest places are no more than a few dozen metros while the principal peaks on the banks are as high as 1,000 - 1,500 meters. The turbulent waters flowing in the deep gorge along a continuous line of peaks make a most magnificent picture. The rolling and roaring river bursts through the rock gate that towers over the water.
Although the Qutang Gorge is the furthest upstream of all the affected gorges, the impact of the Three Gorges Dam on the Qutang Gorge has been especially large. Many of the most famous and historically significant sites in the Qutang Gorge are located closer to the water level. In fact, even prior to the dam construction the water level would come close to many sites during the rainy season. The water has now effectively covered many of the most impressive and notable sites in the Gorge including the Ancient Pathway, Meng Liang's Staircase, the Chalk Wall, and the cave within the Bellows Gorge.