In Russia, there are many nature reserves, where you can see world-famous natural attractions. Some of them deserve the definition of "unique". For example, Lake Baikal, the Volcanoes of Kamchatka, or Mount Elbrus, but these are large natural objects.

In this review on the Geomerid online travel guide, you can read about small nature attractions, which, nevertheless, are the highlight of their places and attract thousands of tourists:

1.    Granite canyon of the White River
2.    Mount Vottovaara in Karelia
3.    Stone Mushrooms in Altay
4.    Big Stone River in Taganay
5.    Navalishchenskoe gorge in Sochi
6.    Dancing forest on the Curonian Spit
7.    Kungur Ice Cave
8.    Sail Rock in Gelendzhik
9.    Salt lake Baskunchak
10.    Salt Lake Elton
11.    Samur forest

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

Granite canyon of the Belaya River in Adygea

The Granite canyon of the Belaya River is one of the most impressive sights of a Caucasus nature reserve in Adygea. 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.

Mount Vottovaara

Mount Vottovaara is one of the most famous anomalous zones in Russia. It is often called the Place of Power. On the mountain, you can see a lot of amazing things that are difficult to explain from a scientific point of view: Sami seids, stones with perfectly smooth splits, twisted trees, Stairs to the Sky and just very beautiful landscapes of Karelian nature. 

The first systematic research of Mount Vottovaara was started in 1978 by a local searcher from the village of Sukkozero, Sergey Simonyan. He admits the possibility of an anthropogenic origin of the Seids on Vottovaara, but denies the presence of esoteric and mystical phenomena on this mountain. However, this does not stop the numerous followers of occult teachings. They believe that here is a portal to another world, that here you can feel the vibrations of the earth and receive energy from Space. Someone may treat this with disbelief, but the presence of anomalies on the mountain is obvious. 

Stone Mushrooms in Altay

Stone Mushrooms in the Akkurum site are one of the most famous sights of the Altay Mountains. They are located in the Valley of the Chulyshman River. Thousands of tourists come here every year to see this miracle of nature. Akkurum in translation from the languages of local peoples means "White scree". Here the Chulyshman River makes a very beautiful bend among the picturesque mountains. On the slope of one of the mountains there are famous Stone Mushrooms. 

Approximately 150 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, soft layers of rock called tuff were formed at the bottom of prehistoric seas. About 50 million years ago, the prehistoric oceans and seas retreated. During this period, active volcanic eruptions occurred, which formed a layer of hard stones (most often basalt) on top of the Cretaceous rock. For millions of years, under the influence of water and wind, the soft cretaceous rock (tuff) was destroyed. Basalt stones became a "roof" for soft rock, and tuff was destroyed on the sides. So there appeared "mushroom legs", which eventually become larger.

Big Stone River in Taganay

The Big Stone river is probably the most interesting sight of the Taganay nature reserve. You can see mountains and rocks, including the ones with most fantastical shapes, in many places. And it is the only such river in the world. A similar rock river of smaller size is only in India.

The Big Stone river is a conglomeration of huge boulders. Some of them weigh up to 10 tons, with a volume of 30 m3. But the average weight of the boulders is 3-4 tons. The boulders are at a depth of 4-6 meters, so they lie in 4 layers. That is why you can see no trees in the middle of the river, excepting two strong pines growing nearer the Otkliknoy Crest.

Navalishenskoe Gorge in Sochi

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.

Navalishinsky Canyon is near the village Krasnaya Volya, 8 kilometers to the north of Khosta (between the Central District of Sochi and Adler). In the area of Sochi relic forests of yews and box trees survived only in three places. These are the Canyon of the Psakho River, yew & boxwood grove of Khosta, and Navalishinsky Canyon where there are perhaps the most picturesque places.

Dancing forest on the Curonian Spit

The Dancing Forest (also known as the Drunk Forest) at the 37th kilometer of the Curonian Spit is the most famous and most popular tourist route. Many believe it to be a mystical place. 

The Dancing forest is a small part of a pine forest one kilometer away from the main road. The forest dates back to 1961. Near the highway the trees have normal straight trunks but as they approach the «mystical» square their trunks begin to twist. At the outer side of the area trees twist quite a little but in the center of the Dancing Forest they have very strange twists, and some of them are even loop-shaped. And with that the trees look quite healthy and continue to grow in spite of fantastic twists.

Kungur Ice Cave

Kungur Ice Cave is probably the most curious sight of Perm Krai. It is in the environs of the town Kungur, 100 kilometers from Perm. It is a unique geological monument of Russia. In the first grottoes of the cave you can see the most beautiful ice formations.

The total length of the cave is 5700 meters. However, only 1500 meters of the cave are adapted for tourists (lighting and paths). Kungur Ice Cave has 48 grottoes, about 60 lakes and 146 «organ pipes». Diamond and Polar grottoes are the most beautiful grottoes of Kungur Ice Cave. They are near the entrance of the cave. The biggest ice formations such as stalactites and stalagmites are just in these grottoes. 

Sail Rock in Gelendzhik

Sail Rock in Gelendzhik  is located on the beach near the village of Praskoveyevka. This is a wonderful monument of Caucasian nature. A vertical rock, only 1 meter thick, stands at the water`s edge. It is 25 meters high and 20 meters wide. The rock has a quadrilateral shape, similar to a sail.

Sail Rock stands perpendicular to the sea shore. From the water it is clearly visible that it is part of the coastal mountain, which consists of layers of dense yellow marl. These strata go down to the sea, but Sail Rock is the only One that has not collapsed, and stands alone in the middle of the beach. The relief of the rock from which the Sail broke off is exceptionally beautiful. In some places, the rock strata look like dragon tails descending to the sea. The roots of pine trees here cling to the rocks and grow very picturesquely. 

Salt lake Baskunchak

Salt lake Baskunchak, located in the north of the Astrakhan region is a natural phenomenon, the same as the Dead Sea in Israel. The lake is located 21 meters below sea level. Swimming in its waters, you cannot drown; you can lie on the water and read the newspaper.

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. 

Salt lake Elton

The salt lake Elton is located in the Caspian Lowland on the border with Kazakhstan. The nearest major city of Volgograd is 330 km away. The brine mineralization in Lake Elton is similar to the level of the Dead Sea, and outwardly Elton is very similar to the Bolivian Uyuni Salt Flat. 

In spring, the depth in some places reaches 1.5 meters, but in summer and autumn most of the lake dries up. At this time, the water depth in the lake does not exceed 5 centimeters. This allows people to walk on the lake, watching how the sky and clouds are reflected in the water surface. Salt crystals protrude above the surface of the water in many places, which create the impression of ripples from the wind on the sea. The color of Lake Elton at different times of the year is yellow or pink.

Samur Forest

The Samur forest is located on the border of Dagestan with Azerbaijan, in the valley of the Samur River. It is a unique botanical phenomenon. Tropical lianas and other relict trees grow here, although the border of the northern tropic is located in the region of Egypt, 2,300 km south of the Samur Forest, and the real rainforests are much further south in Central Africa. 

Only deciduous trees grow in the Samur forest: hornbeams, beeches, poplars, oaks and others. Due to the moisture, very dense undergrowth grows under the trees, with vines hanging from the branches above it. In total, scientists have registered 1,073 plant species in the territory of the Samur National Park, and more than 50 of them are listed in the Red Book of Russia. However, the main asset of the Samursky forest, unique to Russian forests, are tropical lianas. In total, 15 types of lianas grow here, but four types are most common: wild grapes, grape-leaved Clematis, Pastukhov ivy and prickly sassaparilla. Some creepers entwine the trees like a spider web to the top, but there are also large creepers here.