Mount Hua is located near the southeast corner of the Ordos Loop section of the Yellow River basin, south of the Wei River valley, at the eastern end of the Qin Mountains, in southern Shaanxi province.
It is part of the Qin Mountains, which divides not only northern and southern Shaanxi, but also China.
Traditionally, only the giant plateau with its summits to the south of the peak Wuyun Feng (五雲峰, Five Cloud Summit) was called Taihua Shan (太華山, Great Flower Mountain).
It could only be accessed through the ridge known as Canglong Ling (蒼龍嶺, Dark Dragon Ridge) until a second trail was built in the 1980s to go around Canglong Ling. Three peaks were identified with respective summits: the East, South, and West peaks.
The East peak consists of four summits. The highest summit is Zhaoyang Feng (朝陽峰, Facing Yang Summit, i.e. the summit facing the sun).
Its elevation is reported to be 2096.2 meters and its name is often used as the name for the whole East Peak. To the east of Zhaoyang Feng is Shilou Feng (石樓峰, Stone Tower Summit), to the south is Botai Feng (博臺峰, Broad Terrace Summit) and to the west is Yunű Feng (玉女峰, Jade Maiden Summit).
Today, Yunű Feng considered its own peak, most central on the mountain.
The South peak consists of three summits. The highest summit is Luoyan Feng (落雁峰, Landing Goose Summit), with an elevation of 2154.9 meters. To the east is Songgui Feng (松檜峰, Pines and Junipers Summit), and to the west is Xiaozi Feng (孝子峰, Filial Son Summit).
The West peak has only one summit and it is known as Lianhua Feng (蓮花峰) or Furong Feng (芙蓉峰), both meaning Lotus Flower Summit. The elevation is 2082.6 meters.
With the development of new trail to Hua Shan in the 3rd through 5th century along the Hua Shan Gorge, the peak immediately to the north of Canglong Ling, Yuntai Feng (雲臺峰, Cloud Terrace Peak), was identified as the North peak.
It is the lowest of the five peaks with an elevation of 1614.9 meters.
As early as the 2nd century BCE, there was a Daoist temple known as the Shrine of the Western Peak located at its base.
Daoists believed that in the mountain lives the god of the underworld. The temple at the foot of the mountain was often used for spirit mediums to contact the god and his underlings.
Unlike Taishan, which became a popular place of pilgrimage, Huashan, because of the inaccessibility of its summits, only received Imperial and local pilgrims, and was not well visited by pilgrims from the rest of China. Huashan was also an important place for immortality seekers, as many herbal Chinese medicines are grown and powerful drugs were reputed to be found there.
Kou Qianzhi (365–448), the founder of the Northern Celestial Masters received revelations there, as did Chen Tuan (920–989), who spent the last part of his life in hermitage on the west peak. In the 1230s, all the temples on the mountain came under control of the Daoist Quanzhen School.
In 1998, the management committee of Huashan agreed to turn over most of the mountain’s temples to the China Daoist Association. This was done to help protect the environment, as the presence of taoists and nuns deters poachers and loggers.