There are many beautiful gorges and canyons in Russia, where tourist routes are laid. The gorges and canyons in the Caucasus and Altay are the most accessible to visit in Russia. There are very beautiful gorges in more distant regions, for example, on the plateau of Putoran, but they are less accessible to unprepared tourists. 

In this review on the online travel guide Geomerid you can read about the most beautiful gorges and canyons of Russia, which are easily accessible to visit:

1.    Sulak Canyon, Dagestan
2.    Chegem gorge, KBR
3.    Karadakh Gorge, Dagestan
4.    Gorge of Adyr-Su river, KBR
5.    Tsolotlinsky canyon, Dagestan
6.    Guam Gorge, Adygea
7.    Granite Canyon, Adygea
8.    Navalishchenskoye gorge, Kuban
9.    Chulcha River Gorge, Altay
10.    Baksan Gorge, KBR
11.    Tsey Gorge (N.Osetia)
12.    Kurtatinsky Gorge (N.Osetia)
13.    Karmadon Gorge (N.Osetia)

Follow the hyperlinks to read in detail about each gorge and see a large number of photos

Sulak Canyon, Dagestan

Sulak Canyon is the deepest in Russia and one of the deepest in the world. To visit it, you need to allocate a whole day. There are several viewing platforms on the side of the village of Dubki. If you want to see the canyon from the south side, as well as ride a boat along the rapid flow of the Sulak River, then you need to go there with an excursion. 

Sulak Canyon is located between the Salatau mountain ridge and the Gimrinsky ridge. The maximum depth of the canyon reaches 1920 meters, and on average its depth ranges from 1300 meters. Sulak Canyon is one of the Top10 deepest canyons in the world. Since Dagestan geographically belongs to Europe, the canyon can be called the deepest in Europe. Sometimes the deepest canyon in Europe is called the Canyon of the Tara River in Montenegro. However, its maximum depth is only 1300 meters. 

Chegem Gorge, KBR

Chegem gorge is located on the Northern slope of the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, near the town of Nalchik. This is one of the most beautiful gorges in the Caucasus Mountains. It stretches for more than 80 kilometers, but the most interesting part of the Chegem gorge for tourists is located between The Chegem waterfalls and the village of Eltybiy.

The height of the rocks in the Chegem canyon reaches 300 meters, and at the narrowest point, the width of the canyon between the rocks is only 25 meters. After ending of the Chegem canyon, a wide valley with beautiful landscapes begins from the southern slope of the Rocky ridge. The distance from Chegem waterfalls to the village of Eltybiy is 20 kilometers. In the village, you should see the Necropolis, which also called “The city of the Dead”. It is located on the slope of the Kara-Tyubu mountain. The crypts in the necropolis are dated to the 11th-17th centuries. 

Karadakh Gorge (Dagestan)

The Karadakh Gorge is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Dagestan. It is located near the village of Karadakh, in the Valley of the Avar Koisu River. The gorge is a narrow canyon about half a kilometer long. In the narrowest part, the width of the canyon is only 2-4 meters, and the height of the steep walls reaches 170 meters. 

The Kvartakh River flows along the bottom of the Karadakh gorge, but it is filled with rainwater. During heavy rains, a powerful stream flows here, which makes the gorge inaccessible to visitors. As we approach the narrowest point of the gorge, the limestone cliffs begin to close. As elsewhere in Dagestan, they have a beautiful layered structure: limestone alternates with clay shale. Only a narrow strip of sky is visible inside the gorge. It is always dim and cool even on a hot day. Because of this, the Karadakh Gorge is called the Dark Gorge. There is absolutely no vegetation inside it due to the lack of sunlight.

Adyr-Su River Gorge (KBR)

The gorge of the Adyr-Su River is one of the most beautiful places in the Elbrus National Park. Its length reaches 17 kilometers, and the mountains of the Greater Caucasus Range rise above it. Followers of esoteric teachings believe that there are two Places of Power in the Adyr-Su gorge – the Glade of Desires at the foot of Ullu-Tau Mountain and the Living Lake in the gorge of the Kullumkol River. 

There are several mountains in the Adyr-Su gorge with a height of more than 4 thousand meters. Their peaks are covered with snow all year round.  Since the 1930s, this place has become one of the centers of mountaineering. In 1938, the largest mountaineering camp in the USSR, Dzhaylyk, was built here, which in 1983 destroyed a powerful mudflow. However, the popularity of the Adyr-Su gorge has not decreased. Now it is visited not only by climbers, but also by ordinary tourists to enjoy the beautiful mountain views and visit the famous Caucasian Places of Power. 

Tsolotlinsky canyon (Dagestan)

The Tsolotlinsky canyon with huge sheer cliffs is the main natural attraction of the village of Khunzakh. This giant rift shows the scale of the Khunzakh plateau, which rises 2,000 meters above sea level. The Tsolotlinsky Canyon (Tsolotl) literally splits the plateau in half. There are many canyons with steep walls in the world, which were made in the mountain ranges of the river. But almost all of them are quite narrow. The Tsolotlinsky Canyon is a giant tectonic rift of a mountain plateau with steep walls, although the river flows along its bottom.

Three waterfalls fall into the Tsolotlinsky Canyon from the north side. The most powerful of them, the Tobot Waterfall, falls into the Tsolotlinsky Canyon from a height of 70 meters. The most beautiful part of the Tsolotlinsky Canyon stretches for 4 kilometers south of the Tobot Waterfall. From the north, the width of the canyon reaches 200 meters, and at this place the sheer walls with a height of 100 meters descend to the bottom of the canyon. Then its width increases to 400-500 meters and the walls become conical. At the top, a sheer cliff descends about 30 meters, and then the wall goes in the form of a cone to the center, where the Tobot River flows.

Guam Gorge, Adygea

Guam gorge in Adygeya, in the upper reaches of the Kurdzhips River, is one of the main attractions of the Caucasus Nature Reserve in Russia. The length of the canyon is 4 kilometers. In some places it is very narrow. With the height of walls reaching 400 meters, there may be only several meters between them. The sides of rocks are covered by relict trees: yews, box-trees and hornbeams.

There are many beautiful rapids and small waterfalls in the Guam canyon. They cut their way through layered rocks. The tourist path begins at Guamka. You can get there by a car. Small trains of 4 carriages us a problem for tourists as at daytime, when the trains run along the canyon, it is closed for visiting on foot until 17.00. Surely, you can go there by train, but it is impossible to see all the beauties of the canyon from the window of a train. The best time to visit Guam canyon is Monday or Tuesday. Those days trains go to the canyon a whole day.

Granite Canyon, Adygea

The Granite canyon of the Belaya River is one of the most impressive sights of a Caucasus nature reserve in Adygea of Russia. It is amazing that a mountain river could cut its way among massive granite rocks at the bottom of a narrow canyon. The canyon is not far from village Dakhovskaya on the way from Kamennomostsky to Guzeripl.

The canyon itself stretches for about 4 kilometers. The river passes by pink granite rocks. In that place its water also acquires a beautiful turquoise shade. Rapids, whirlpools and rifts of the narrow Granite canyon look very picturesque. In some places the canyon is only 2 meters wide.

Navalishchenskoye gorge, Kuban

Navalishinsky Canyon may be considered as one of the most curious places in Sochi, where you can get to a primeval relic forest. Semi-darkness always reigns in yew & boxwood groves and there you can feel the atmosphere of the tropics.
From the entrance to the Navalishchenskoye gorge, a staircase goes down the canyon. It is necessary to go down to the White Rocks. There is a small waterfall that falls between narrow white rocks.

Groves of relict trees grow upstream in the Navalishen Gorge. Here, not only trees, but also rocks and the ground are covered with moss. Up you will need to walk two kilometers to the campsite. At the entrance to the gorge, you can pre-arrange to be picked up from the campsite by car.

Gorge of the Chulcha River, Altay

The gorge of the Chulcha River is one of the most beautiful places of the Altay Biosphere Reserve. It begins at the place where the Chulcha River flows into the Chulyshman and stretches for 8 kilometers to the Uchar waterfall. There is a hiking trail along the right bank of the river. 

Uchar Waterfall is one of the main tourist attractions of the Altay Mountains in Russia. It is a stepped cascade, 160 meters high, littered with huge stones. The Uchar waterfall is the main goal of the hike along the Chulcha River Gorge, but you need to understand that the gorge itself is an exceptionally beautiful place of the Altay Nature Reserve. 

Baksan gorge, (KBR)

The Baksan gorge is one of the longest in the Caucasus. It is very picturesque, and at its end rise the mountains of Elbrus and Cheget. There are excellent conditions for skiing in winter. Summer trekking routes through mountain valleys are also suitable for any level of physical fitness.

The Baksan gorge begins near the town of Baksan and then goes through the village of Zayukovo for 100 kilometers to the Azau Glade, where the lower station of the cable car to Elbrus is located. The road along the Baksan gorge is very picturesque, but it is not used for trekking, since the gorge itself is very wide and the distances are very long. The Baksan river flows through it. It is best to view the gorge from the slopes of the Cheget or Elbrus mountains.

Tsey Gorge (N.Osetia)

The Tsey Gorge is one of the most beautiful not only in North Ossetia, but also in the entire Caucasus region. Its length reaches 15 kilometers from the village of Buron, to the lower tongue of the Tsey glacier. The Tsey Gorge is an all-season resort. In winter, you can ski here, and in summer climbers and trekking fans come to Tsey’s mountain routes.

In Soviet times, the Tsey Alpine Camp was one of the most famous mountain resorts in the country. The famous singer Yuri Vizbor dedicated some songs to the Tsey Gorge. The length of 3 ski trails of the Tsey ski resort is 7.5 kilometers. There are two chairlifts here. The trails start at the Skazsky glacier, the height difference is 920 meters.

The Tsey Gorge is sandwiched between the Tsey and Kalperovsky mountain ranges. A pine forest grows at the bottom of the gorge. The height of the rocky mountains towering over the Tsey Gorge exceeds 3000 meters. There are also mountains with a height of more than 4000 meters, that’s why Tsey is so picturesque at any time.

Kurtatinsky gorge (N.Osetia)

The Kurtatinsky (Fiagdon) gorge is one of the longest in North Ossetia. Its lower part begins near the village of Dzuarikau and stretches for 50 kilometers to the village of Upper Fiagdon. There are a large number of historical monuments of North Ossetia in the gorge, so you should definitely come to Upper Fiagdon.

The wide Kurtatinsky gorge was broken through the mountain range by the Fiagdon River. In the upper reaches, through the Kurtatinsky pass (3287 m), you can enter the territory of South Ossetia. The top of Mount Tepli (4431 m) rises above the pass from the west, and the top of Mount Kazbek (5054 m), which is a symbol of Georgia, is visible from the east. The Kurtatinsky pass is relatively low, but from the northern side it is difficult to access by transport. You can only walk.

5 kilometers south of the Dzivgis fortress is the largest village in the Kurtatinsky gorge, Upper Fiagdon. There are many hotels and guest houses where you can stay for a few days to drive around the neighborhood. In the village of Hidikus, south of the Upper Fiagdon, there is an Alan monastery.

Karmadon gorge (N.Osetia)

Karmadon gorge is one of the most famous in North Ossetia. It is definitely worth coming here to see the beauty of the mountainous regions of Ossetia. However, the fame of this gorge is associated with tragic events. On September 20, 2002, the Kolka glacier descended. The village of Upper Karmadon was buried under a mass of ice and snow, 125 people died, including the film crew of Sergei Bodrov. 

The length of the Karmadon gorge is 17 kilometers. It begins at the foot of the mountains Jimara (4780 m), Pastukhova (4312 m), Mailikhoh (4597 m) and Peak Tsarakhova (4239 m). Two huge glaciers Kolka and Maili descend the slopes of these mountains. The Genaldon River originates from these glaciers, so the gorge is sometimes called Genaldonskoe.

Translated from the Ossetian language, the word Karmadon means Warm Water. In the upper reaches of the Karmadon gorge, mineral water sources with a high content of iodine and boron were discovered in the 19th century. This water is very helpful in the treatment of thyroid diseases. A large sanatorium building was built here, and the construction of houses for service personnel began. However, the development of the Karmadon Gorge as a balneological resort in Russia was prevented by the unpredictable "nature" of the Kolka glacier.