The Main Caucasian Ridge stretches more than 1200 kilometers from the Azov to the Caspian Sea. There are a lot of gorges on the northern and southern slopes of the Caucasus that attract tourists with their beauty. In some gorges there are ski resorts.

The online guide Geomerid have chosen several gorges of the Caucasus for you:

1.    Daryal Gorge (Georgia)
2.    Sulak Canyon (Russia)
3.    Vorotan Gorge (Armenia)
4.    Yupsharsky Canyon (Abkhazia)
5.    Granite Canyon (Russia)
6.    Okatse Canyon (Georgia)
7.    Borjomi Gorge (Georgia)
8.    Martville Canyon (Georgia)
9.    Baksan Gorge (Russia)
10.    Chegem gorge (Russia)
11.    Guam Gorge (Russia)
12.    Adyr-Su Gorge (Russia)
13.    Tsey Gorge (Russia)
14.    Kurtatinsky Gorge (Russia)
15.    Karmadon Gorge (Russia)

1.    Daryal Gorge

The Daryal Gorge (Georgia and Russia) is the only through passage in the Central part of the Caucasus Ridge. From a geographical point of view, the Daryal Gorge is considered only a narrow canyon of the Terek River with a length of 12 kilometers. Now there is a checkpoint Upper Lars on the state border between Georgia and Russia. 

In this review on the Geomerid online travel guide, under the name Daryal Gorge, we combine the entire passage through the Caucasian Ridge from the northern to the southern slope with a length of 160 kilometers, from the Ananuri Fortress in the south to the state border with Russia in the north. The Daryal Gorge has been used for communication between the North and South Caucasus for thousands of years. In 1799, a Georgian-Military road was laid along the Daryal Gorge. On the territory of Georgia (170 km) in the Daryal gorge there are many natural and historical attractions. There are two mountain resorts here: Gudauri and Stepantsminda. In Gudauri you can go skiing. The village of Stepantsminda is located at the foot of Mount Kazbek, the symbol of Georgia.

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2.    Sulak Canyon

Sulak Canyon in Dagestan 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. 

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Vorotan Gorge

The Vorotan Gorge is often called the Grand Canyon of Armenia. It is located 20 km south of the city of Goris and 230 km from Yerevan. Despite the distance from the capital, tourists come here every day on excursions from Yerevan, as the sights of the Vorotan Gorge are among the most interesting in all of Armenia.

People go to the Vorotan Gorge to see the famous Tatev Monastery. However, the beauty of the gorge itself cannot leave anyone indifferent. It can be seen from below by driving along the mountain serpentine, as well as from above by riding the Wings of Tatev cable car. If you go by car along the bottom of the gorge, then do not forget to make a stop near the Devil`s Gate. This is a through cave, which was punched in the rock by the river. There is a road on top of the cave and cars drive along it every day. Alas, it is impossible to go down into the cave itself, it can only be viewed from above.

The total length of the Vorotan gorge is 178 kilometers, but for tourists the most interesting segment is 16 kilometers from the village of Alidzor to the Tatev monastery. 16 kilometers is the distance along the mountain serpentine. If you go by cable car, the distance in a straight line is much shorter. 

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3.    Yupshar Canyon 

The road in the Ritsa National Park (Abkhazia) from the seashore to Lake Ritsa is very picturesque. At first, it goes along the wide Gorge of the Bzyb River. An interesting place of the gorge is the Blue Lake. Its size is only 180 m2, but the depth reaches 76 m. The bottom of the Blue Lake is covered with lapis lazuli deposits, so that the water has a rich blue color, and at the same time it is very transparent. 

After the Blue Lake, the canyon of the Bzyb River winds between high cliffs. The next stop will be the Yupshar Canyon. At this point, the rocks of the canyon close closely over the road, therefore the Yupshar canyon got its second name - the Stone Bag. There is another attraction nearby - the waterfall of Men's tears. 4 kilometers away is located the Geghsky waterfall, whose height reaches 70 meters.

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4.    Granite Canyon

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.

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5.    Okatse Canyon

Okatse Canyon is located 50 kilometers northeast of Kutaisi (Georgia). In 2012, a metal staircase was built on the rocky slope of the canyon, after which the canyon became accessible to the public. This canyon can be called one of the wonderful natural attractions in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.

The iron staircase is fixed on the steep slope of the canyon at an altitude of 140 meters. For people with acrophobia (fear of heights), walking up these stairs will be a test, others will simply feel an increased level of adrenaline in their blood. The views of Okatse Canyon from this staircase are spectacular. Okatse Canyon has a length of 16 kilometers, the Okatse River flows along the bottom of the canyon. The slopes of the gorge and its bottom are covered with dense forest. A metal staircase stretches along the canyon wall for 750 meters and ends with a beautiful bridge.

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6.    Borjomi Gorge

The Kura River is the largest river in Georgia. It originates in Turkey, in the Armenian Highlands. In the Borjomi Gorge, the Kura River made its channel between two mountain ranges. The Meskheti Mountain Range stretches to the west of the Kura, and the Trialeti Mountain Range stretches to the east. Near the Kura River, the maximum height of the mountains does not exceed 1500 meters.

During the spring flood, the Kura turns into a rather stormy river and even rafting is possible here. In the middle of the Century, the main trade route from Armenia to Georgia passed along the Kura riverbed, so the ruins of numerous fortresses have been preserved here. Borjomi-Kharaguli National Park is located on the western side (the right bank of the Kura). It was founded in 1935 and is one of the largest in Georgia. Several routes have been laid through the territory of this park, which begin in the Borjomi Gorge.

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7.    Martville Canyon

Martville Canyon is located 50 kilometers northwest of Kutaisi (Georgia), near the city of Martvili. This canyon is one of the most beautiful natural attractions of Georgia. If you are in Kutaisi, then an excursion to the Martville Canyon must be planned.

The Martville Canyon was cut by the Abasha River in the soft limestone mountains. A convenient tourist infrastructure has been created in the Martville Canyon, thanks to which this place has become very popular. In addition to the Martville Canyon itself, tourists can see beautiful cascading waterfalls here, as well as a grove of ancient yews and boxwoods. In Georgia, such places are called the "Colchis forest".

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8.    Baksan gorge

The Baksan gorge is one of the longest in the north slope of 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.
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9.    Chegem Gorge

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. 

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10.    Guam Gorge

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.

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Gorge of the Adyr-Su River

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. 

The trail in the lower part of the Adyr-Su gorge (8 km) passes through a dense pine forest, but as soon as you step out onto a flat plateau, you will have a beautiful view of Ullu-Tau Mountain. The inhabitants of the mountainous Caucasus call the mountain Ullu-Tau: "Mother-Mountain" or "God`s Mountain". They believe that if you come to the foot of Ullu-Tau to the Glade of Desires and ask the mountain for the fulfillment of your innermost desire, then it will definitely come true.

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Tsey Gorge

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.

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Kurtatinsky gorge

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.

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Karmadon gorge

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.

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