Kislovodsky National Park occupies an area of 950 hectares in the center of Kislovodsk. Previously, this territory was called "Kislovodsk Resort Park". It is the largest urban park in Russia and the second largest park in Europe. In 2016, it was decided to transform it into a National Park with a stricter environmental regime.
Kislovodsk is one of the most popular balneological resorts in Russia. Every year about 400 thousand people come here for treatment and vacation. There are many special routes in the Kislovodsk National Park, which are called terrainkurs. Terrainkur is a route for therapeutic walking, which doctors prescribe to people who are treated in Mineral Water sanatoriums. There are poles on the terrainkurs indicating the distance covered. There are 6 terrainkurs of varying difficulty in the Kislovodsky National Park.
The territory of the National Park "Kislovodsky" is divided into three parts:
1. Lower (Old) Park
2. Middle Park
3. Mountain (Upper) Park
Tsar Alexander I was aware of the need to develop resorts on Mineral Water springs region. The main stronghold in these lands was the Pyatigorsk Fortress, erected in 1783. In 1803, Tsar Alexander I signed a decree "On the recognition of the state significance of the Caucasian Mineral Waters and the need for their arrangement." In the same year, 1803, the construction of the Kislovodsk fortress began near the famous and most powerful Narzan spring. Now the Narzan Gallery of Kislovodsk has been erected over this spring.
At the beginning of the 19th century, people began to come to the Kislovodsk Fortress for treatment at the Narzan Spring. Governor-General Ermolov laid the Kislovodsk Resort Park for them in 1823. His work was continued by the next Governor-General Mikhail Vorontsov, who brought here from his Vorontsov Palace in the Crimea seedlings of rare trees and plants. This part of the Kislovodsk Resort Park is now called the Lower (Old) Park.
The Lower Park of Kislovodsk stretches for 1.5 kilometers along the riverbed of the Olkhovka River. It starts near the Narzan Gallery and ends near the Lermontov’s Embankment. Many different pavilions and monuments have been built on the banks of the Olkhovka River. A colonnade was built near the Narzan Gallery in 1912 as the main entrance to the park. There are monuments to Lermontov and Pushkin.
In the Lower Park there are recreation areas and walking paths for people who do not want to walk on mountain routes. For them, the easiest Terrainkur No. 1 with a length of 1.6 kilometers is laid along the bed of the Olkhovka River. There are restaurants and cafes in the Lower Park. In the far part of the Lower Park there is a Mirror Pond with a Glass Jet pavilion, as well as a Ladies` Caprice Bridge.
On a hill above the Olkhovka River there is a Royal Garden. There is a small pavilion, benches at the foot of huge fir trees and flower beds with a regular layout. Next to the Royal Garden there is a pine grove, where a Rope Park is arranged. This is a popular place for active recreation for children.
Walking tours of the Kislovodsk National Park begin near the Pushkin Monument. In total, there are 6 terrainkurs (routes) in the Resort Park, with a length of 1.7 to 10 kilometers. Two routes are laid in the valley without climbing; the others go with a rather steep climb to the Red Sun Mountain. Along the route of the terrainkurs in the park, you can see various compositions of stones, groves of decorative trees and recreation areas.
Going further up the slope of the Middle Park, you can reach one of the most famous attractions of the Resort Park – Red Stones. These are remnants of red-brown sandstone, stained with iron oxide. The height of the rocky ridge of Red Stones is about 20 meters, and on top of one of them there is a sculpture of an eagle – the symbol of the Mineral Waters region.
The center of the Middle Resort Park is the Valley of Roses. In this beautiful high-altitude valley, several dozen types of roses have been planted, which bloom in the second half of summer. The Temple of the Sun is located above the Valley of Roses. You can take a cable car nearby and climb to the highest point of the Resort Park – Mount Small Saddle. Be sure to visit the Viewing Points of the Middle Park. One of them is located at the foot of the Temple of the Air, and the second is located a little higher and is called Gray Stones. The territory of the Mountain (Upper) Park begins at the Gray Stones.
Most visitors from the Valley of Roses go towards the Mountain Park, but if you go to the southeast, you will see another interesting attraction of the Kislovodsky National Park - Stone Mushrooms. These are the same Red stones, but with hats. In Kislovodsk, stone mushrooms reach a height of 7 meters. The diameters of the hats are about 3 meters. The most famous stone mushrooms in Russia are Stone Mushrooms on Elbrus, as well as Stone Mushrooms of Altay. The most famous stone mushrooms in the world are Cappadocia in Turkey.
Most people in the Mountain Park are limited to climbing the Red Sun Mountain. This is Route #2. Most part of the terrainkur passes among pine groves and from the viewing point of the Red Sun Mountain you can admire a beautiful view of the Kislovodsky National Park, lying at the foot. There is a monument to Mikhail Lermontov on the Red Sun Mountain.
If you have the strength and desire, then you can climb higher from the Red Sun Mountain. Next you will see the Pavilion Seven Winds, and even higher - the top of the mountain Small Saddle (1325 meters). The upper station of the cable car is located here. This is the highest point of the Kislovodsky National Park. The lower station of the cable car is located near the Valley of Roses. From here, tourists can immediately climb to the top of the Small Saddle Mountain to see the surroundings from the viewing points.
2 kilometers to the east is the Big Saddle Mountain (1409 meters). You can also follow the path there, but it is already located outside the Kislovodsky National Park. The climb from the Small Saddle mountain to the Big Saddle Mountain is 120 meters.
There are viewing points on both mountains, where the two-headed peak of Mount Elbrus is visible in good weather. Also from here you can see Mount Mashuk and Mount Beshtau, towering over Pyatigorsk. There is a Kosygin Trail near the Red Sun Mountain. It runs along picturesque grottoes, as well as a cliff called the Blue Stones.