The Yellow River 'Stone Forest' (黄河石林 Huánghé Shílín) is 145km north of Lanzhou (map). Take a bus to Báiyín (白银) from the East Bus Station, then change to a local bus, or negotiate a taxi (we paid Y120). Local farmers have rooms available for overnight stays. Trivia: Some scenes from the soon-to-be-released Mulan (花木兰) were filmed there (trailer). We were there on a very overcast weekend, so I put some black and white film in my camera (more colourful pictures). Photos here.
Here are some photos of the places we visited on a three-day trip to neighboring Shănxī (陕西) province (spelled Shaanxi in pinyin, to distinguish it from Shānxī 山西 province).
Due to the riots in march, for the past several months travel to Xiàhé (夏河) Tibetan Autonomous County in south Gansu has been restricted for foreign visitors. Those who did manage to slip in found they had nowhere to stay. Even foreigners with residency there found travelling around almost impossible.
We hired a driver through Tibetan Connections, and drove around Qinghai Lake for a couple of days...
One of the advantages of being based in Lanzhou, is that China's 'remote' northwest is actually pretty close by.