ATLAS OBSCURA

Crescent Lake - Dunhuang, China

It’s not every day that you see a real-life oasis that looks just like the ones in the movies—a lush patch of green foliage surrounded by sandy desert hills as far as the eye can see.

Crescent Lake offers eager adventurers and explorers exactly that. Less than 10 kilometers south of the city of Dunhuang, this grassy outcrop might as well be in the middle of the Sahara. It certainly looks the part.

And at 15 to 25 feet deep, the lake is suspiciously deep considering its isolated location in the middle of a sun-scortched desert. This is only exacerbated by the fact that, once the local government noticed the lake was losing its total surface area, steps were taken to ensure the water supply didn’t dry up. But the move wasn’t about ecology so much as tourism, since Crescent Lake is a popular tourist destination in all seasons.

Details on how to visit Crescent Lake on Atlas Obscura…