There are more than 100 nature reserves and more than 60 national parks on the territory of Russia. A significant part of the reserves are located in hard-to-reach places and are not visited by tourists. 

In this review, the Geomerid online travel guide offers a selection of Nature Reserves in Russia, which are located near cities. They are compact and very convenient for tourists to visit without special training and equipment:

1. The Caucasian Nature Reserve
2. Golden mountains of Alta
3. Lake Baikal Nature Reserve
4. Utrish Nature Reserve
5. Karadag Nature Reserve
6. Yalta Nature Reserve
7. Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve
8. Kivach Nature Reserve
9. Bogdinsky-Baskunchak Nature Reserve

1. Caucasian Nature Reserve

The Caucasian biosphere nature reserve is located in the Central part of the Caucasus mountain range, North of Krasnaya Polyana. Free access is closed, passes are required. However, in any case, it is not easy to go to the reserve. You have to cross mountain passes. Behind them, there are wild places where there is no mobile connection or any tourist infrastructure.

The Caucasian reserve was founded in 1924. It is one of the largest mountain reserves in Europe. In Soviet times, several tourist routes were laid along the Caucasian reserve, the main ones being No. 8 and No. 30. Route 8 starts near Psebay and route 30 starts in Guzeriple. Both end in Sochi.

2. Golden Mountains of Altay

"Golden Mountains of Altay" is a collective definition of the most beautiful places of the Altay Mountains, which were included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List in 1998. These places are part of two biosphere reserves: the Altay Reserve and the Katun Reserve, as well as tourist areas on the Ukok Plateau and Mount Belukha. 

The word "Altay" in translation from the Turkic language means "Golden Mountains". The Altay mountain system is located in the geographical center of the Eurasian continent. The central point is located near Mount Belukha, the most famous attraction of Altay. Some followers of esoteric teachings considered Mount Belukha to be the mystical center of the Earth, where the legendary country of Shambhala is located. 

3. Lake Baikal Nature Reserve

Lake Baikal is undoubtedly one of the most curious places in Russia. The lake is rather unique scientifically, and it is very suitable for ecotourism, hiking and adventurous tours. You couldn’t find such flora and fauna nowhere in the world. There are three nature reserves on the shores of Lake Baikal.

One or two days aren’t enough to see the real beauty of Baikal. It will be enough only for a short boat trip starting from Irkutsk or visiting settlement Listvyanka. It would be most preferable to go to Baikal for 1-2 weeks. This term is due to great spaces, which you need to overcome to see the most beautiful places (the length of the lake is 636 km.), as well as poor roads. The most popular tourist attractions are Olkhon Island and Eastern Baikal.

4. Utrish Nature Reserve

The Utrish Nature Reserve is one of the most interesting natural attractions in the vicinity of Anapa. Here, on an area of 10 thousand hectares, groves of relic junipers grow. Previously, there was a camping site on the territory of the reserve, where people rested in tents, but now a visit to the Utrish reserve is possible only with an excursion.

The Utrish Nature Reserve near the Great Utrish village was established in 2010 on the site of the nature reserves Great Utrish and Small Utrish. The territory of the forest reserve is located between the Sukko village and the Abrau-Durso village. The protected regime in these places was created to preserve the subtropical ecosystem unique to the Kuban, where juniper forests grow. The age of some junipers in the reserve reaches 700 years.

In addition to junipers, pistachio trees grow in the Utrish Nature Reserve, as well as dozens of other plants and trees. Many of them are listed in the Red Book, and some are even endemic. However, most of the territory (more than 90%) is covered with Juniper Forests. In addition to rare plants, dozens of rare species of animals and amphibians are found in the reserve.

5. Karadag Nature Reserve

The Karadag Nature Reserve is located south of the Koktebel resort. It was established in 1979 to protect the ecosystem of the ancient extinct volcano Karadag. Free access to the top of Mount Karadag is prohibited, but twice a day the reserve staff conduct excursions here. Very beautiful rocks of Karadag are visible from the sea.

In the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic era, about 150 million years ago, these lands were covered by the waters of the ancient ocean Tethys. The photo shows that the ocean waters covered the entire Caspian lowland. The regions of Crimea and the Caucasus were also under water, but the Crimean and Caucasian Mountains towered over the waters of the Tethys Ocean.

The eruption of Karadag occurred about 150 million years ago. At that time, the planet was inhabited by dinosaurs. Karadag is located in the foothills of the Crimean Mountains. The territory of the Karadag Nature Reserve is 2.8 thousand hectares, of which 800 hectares is the water area of the Black Sea in the area of an ancient volcano. To the south of the Sphinx Rock there is a Dead City – this is the most picturesque place of Karadag. At the foot of the Dead City is the Golden Gate - the most famous attraction of the Karadag Nature Reserve. This rock is called the same symbol of the Crimea.

6. Yalta Nature Reserve

Yalta Nature Reserve is located on the territory of the Crimean Mountains. It stretches along the mountain range from the Black Sea side. The territory of the reserve is 50 kilometers long and about 10-20 kilometers wide. It starts near the Foros Church in the south and ends near Yalta. A separate part of the Yalta Nature Reserve is located in the mountains above the resort of Gurzuf.

A special ecosystem has formed in the Yalta Nature Reserve. Mountains block the coastal strip from cold winds, and pine forests grow below. The phytoncides of the coniferous forest are mixed with the sea breeze, which creates a positive effect for the treatment of lung diseases. These properties of the climate of the Southern coast of Crimea were first noted by the doctor Sergey Botkin when he studied the climate of the Yalta Reserve at the end of the 19th century.

There are two trails to the top of Stavri-Kaya Mountain, which are called Health Trails. They are called the Botkin Trail and the Shtangeyev Trail. The trails were created in 1901. The most famous attraction of the Yalta Nature Reserve, which is visited by thousands of people every day, is Ai-Petri Mountain. Its teeth are visible from all coastal areas, from Yalta to Alupka.

7. Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve

The Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve is located on the southern slope of the Ural Mountain Range in the Burzyansky district of Bashkiria. The distance from Ufa to the reserve is 370 kilometers. Its territory is only 22 thousand hectares, but here you can visit one of the most important monuments of the History of Russia of ancient times – Kapova Cave, where rock paintings of the Paleolithic era have been preserved.

The Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve was established in 1958. In the beginning, it was a branch of the Bashkir Reserve, but since 1986 it has been made an separate reserve. Despite the exceptional scientific importance of the Kapova Cave, the main reason for the creation of the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve was the protection and preservation of honey hunting. The habitat of the Burzyan bee has been preserved in Bashkiria. Tourists can learn more about the honey hunting at the Museum of Honey Hunting.

The main sightseeing routes in the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve are "Reserved Land" and "Waiting for a miracle". These traditional routes include a walk to the Kapova Cave with a visit to the Museum of Honey Hunting and the Museum of Kapova Cave. During a walk along the route "To Mount Timertau", tourists climb the mountain where you can admire the beauty of the Nature of the Shulgan-Tash reserve. At this point, the Belaya River makes a very deep bend among the low mountains. 

8. Kivach Nature Reserve

Kivach, in spite of its modest height, only 11 meters, is the third largest (by the volume of water) waterfall in Europe. All territory around the waterfall was given the status of a national park where there remained the primeval nature of Karelia.

Kivach Nature Reserve is located not far from St. Petersburg – Murmansk highway, near the town of Kondopoga. The first Russian balneotherapeutic resort Marcial Waters, founded by Peter the Great in 1719 is just a short distance away. There they come for treatment with the waters of chalybeate springs.

Kivach waterfall is on the river Suna. The waterfall is very picturesque, and so it has attracted tourists for several centuries. Near the waterfall there survived a relict forest in Karelia. There is an arboretum where you can see the karelian birch, which you can hardly find in the wild, as well as the other trees of the Russian North. Also, you can visit the nature museum at the Kivach reserve.

9. Bogdo-Baskunchak Nature Reserve

Bogdo-Baskunchak nature reserve is located in the north of the Astrakhan region. The two main attractions of the reserve are the Salt lake Baskunchak and the Big Bogdo mountain, which is sacred to Kalmyk Buddhists.

Salt lake Baskunchak is not only a unique attraction in Russia, but also a rare natural object in the whole world. The concentration of salt in its water is 300 grams per liter, and the salt consists of 99.8% of sodium chloride. This is one of the cleanest indicators in the world. A similar concentration of salt is in the Dead sea in Israel. A few kilometers south of the Salt lake Baskunchak is located the Big Bogdo mountain. Its height is only 171 meters. Not very much to consider it a mountain, but in the area of the Caspian Lowlands around the mountain are only endless steppes.