Jiuzhaigou (literally "Nine Village Valley") takes its name from the nine Tibetan villages along its length. Seven of them are still populated today. The main agglomerations that are readily accessible to tourists are Heye, Shuzheng and Zechawa along the main paths that cater to tourists, selling various handicrafts, souvenirs and snacks. There is also Rexi in the smaller Zaru Valley and behind Heye village are Jianpan, Panya and Yana villages. The Valley's no longer populated villages are Guodu and Hejiao.
Finally, the Penbu, Panxing and Yongzhu villages lie along the road that passes through the town of Jiuzhaigou/Zhangza outside the valley.
In 1997, the permanent population of the valley was about 1000, made up of about 130 Tibetan families. Due to the protected nature of the park, agriculture is no longer permitted so the locals now rely on tourism and local government subsidies to make a living.
- The Primeval Forest (Yuánshǐ Sēnlín) is a preserved ancient woodland. It is fronted by spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and cliffs, including the 500 m high blade-shaped Sword Rock (Jiàn Yán).
- Swan Lake (Tiān'é Hǎi) is a 2250 m long, 125 m wide picturesque lake named for its visiting swans and ducks.
- Grass Lake (Cǎo Hǎi) is a shallow lake covered in intricate vegetation patterns.
- Arrow Bamboo Lake (Jiànzhú Hǎi), covering an area of 170,000 m², is a shallow lake with a depth of 6 m. It lies at an elevation of 2,618 m, and was a main feature site for the 2002 Chinese film Hero.
- Panda Lake (Xióngmāo Hǎi) features curious color patterns of blue and green. It empties into the multi-stream, multi-level Panda Waterfalls, dropping 78m in 3 steps.
- Long Lake (Cháng Hǎi) is the highest, largest and deepest lake in Jiuzhaigou, measuring 7.5 km (5 mi) in length and up to 103 m in depth. It reportedly has no outgoing waterways, getting its water from snowmelt and losing it from seepage. Local folklore features a monster in its depths.
The main hike follows the pilgrimage of the local Benbo Buddhists circumnavigating the sacred 4,528m Zha Yi Zha Ga Mountain.