So you want to know a little about the Ural Mountains

170px-UralMountains1Early in Russian history the Urals were called several different names including “Rock” and “Belt”, by the 16th and 17th centuries the range became known as the Urals during the Russian conquest of Siberia. As early as the 13th century in Bashkortostan there was a legend about a hero named Ural. This also could have lent to the naming of the mountain range. Of 101 zapovedniks, 14 of them are in the Ural mountain ranges. A zapovednik is a strictly protected scientific nature preserve. Among all the types of protected areas within Russia, zapovedniks are most successive in protection of biodiversity on ecosystem level. The zapovedniks, were created to protect natural territories that excludes all forms of management, (hiking is prohibited). This was done in order to preserve its indigenous complexes in their untouched natural state. At the same time, a zapovednik is an institution designed not just for the conservation of its territory but also for study (special permits required). Zapovedniks present a series of unique territories, unparalleled in the world as models for comparison to areas of human disturbance. They are truly some of the most beautiful untouched spaces left in the world.

Zapovednik “Denezhkin Kamen”

Federal Nature Preserve “Denezhkin Kamen” is one of the 101 preserves of the Russian Federal System of Nature Protection Areas.
Zapovednik “Denezhkin Kamen” is located in the Northern Ural geographical region of the Main Ural Mountain Ridge and is situated 40 km to the northwest of the town of Severouralsk, Russia. Its most southern point is located at 60º20” northern latitude, and its most northern point at 60º50” northern latitude. The average longitude is 59º30”.
The frontier position of the “Denezhkin Kamen” zapovednik between Europe and Asia; as well as between northern and middle taiga regions, makes it unique among the Ural Preserves. The wood-covered area makes up 70 thousand hectares; the area of meadow land is 0,5 thousand ha; of wetlands 0,3 thousand ha. On western slopes mountain-taiga dark coniferous forests of spruce, fir, and cedar prevail. A continuous belt of cedar forests is developed on eastern slopes on the height of 600-700 m above the sea level. Pine forests are developed on the eastern slopes. In the upper rivers sites of alpestrine meadows are met. The belt of mountain tundras is developed.


Zapovednik “Basegi”

State Nature Reserve Basegi situated in the Perm region, the mining industrial area. It was organized October 1, 1982. The total area of the reserve is equal to 37 935 hectares.
The reserve Basegi dominated continental temperate climate. The average annual temperature ranges from -1.0 to -1.4 C. In July, the thermometer rises to 13, 3 C. In January the average temperature is -11.9 C. Annually on protected lands falls 496-107 mm of precipitation.
On the east coast during the year falls about 767 mm of rain on the west – 801 mm. Typically, the rains in June, August and September. The least amount of precipitation falls in December and February. In the summer, thunderstorms are frequent fogs and which are accompanied by a cold snap to 0 C.
In winter, the winds of the south-western and western areas – up to 86%. In summer, besides there are north-westerly winds. In October, formed a stable snowpack, which usually lasts until the end of April.
The reserve territory is within the boundaries Basegi western slopes of the Main Ural Mountains. The ridge Basegi, from north to south, stretches the center line of the reserve. This range has the form of isolated mountain peaks Basegi Southern, Middle and Northern Basegi Basegi.

In Basegi there are two rivers of medium size Vilva (flows on the southern boundary of the reserve) and Usva (northern boundary). Lower portions of the relief permeated their numerous small tributaries. All rivers have a well-marked mountain character, their channel rapids and stony bed. As for the river valleys, they are designed poorly. From small rivers most significant Sohatka, Berezivka, empty, Hariusnaya, Small and Large Basegi, Korostelevka.
The flora of the reserve Basegi rich in rare and protected species. The Red Book of the Russian Federation made ​​3 types of plants: shiverekiya Podolsky, Lobar pulmonary, calypso onion.
In the Red Book of the Middle Urals is 24 species: bloodroot snowy anemone Permian, Dactylorhiza speckled, thyme Taliev, gypsophila Urals, Campanula latifolia, Platanthera bifolia, Pulsatilla patens, alpine aster, calypso onion, cloves igolistnaya, Alpine Woods, Rhodiola rosea, peony and others.
Fauna Reserve Basegi represented species that are typical of mountain-forest zone. In the mountain rivers usual minnow, burbot, grayling. Considerably less common trout. Reptiles and amphibians are not common and are mainly represented by lizard and grass frog.
Also in the reserve Basegi usual squirrel, hare, lynx, fox, wolf, brown bear, moose. For small predators typical weasel, columns, American mink, marten. Among the rarer species belong badger, flying squirrel, polecat black, otter, mink, European, wolverine. Occasionally on protected lands go deer and wild boar.
The Red Book of the Russian Federation includes the following species: unusual bumblebee, Mnemosyne, bullhead, the European grayling, trout ordinary, plain gray shrike, European Azure tit, Aquatic Warbler, Black Stork, curlew, golden eagle, osprey, peregrine falcon, white-tailed eagle, owl and others.


Zapovednik “Bashkirsky”

The “Bashkiria” National Park is located on the western slopes of the Urals Mountains between the Nugush and Belaya Rivers, as well as on the eastern spur of Obshchii Syrt and the northern part of Zilair Plateau. It scatters over the territory of three administrative districts Burzyanski, Kugarchinski and Meleuzovski. The Park for about 30 kilometres from north to south and its total area is 82,300 hectares. In the east, the Park borders on the “Shulgan-Tash” State Sanctuary.The flora of the “Bashkiria” National Park features 40 rare and disappearing species which were entered into the Red Data Book of the Republic of Bashkortostan (2001) and 15 – in the Red Data Book of the RSFSR (1988). N. Torgasheva made a profound survey of broad-leaved forests and birch-tree groves in the vicinity of Nugushskoye Water Reservoir as well as the vegetation of Mount Kalmash and identified 107 species of fungi, one of which is entered into the Red Data Book.The central portion of the Park which is difficult to access is rich in forests with numerous fallen trees and hollows in old trees which give shelter to many live organisms and add to this area’s biological diversity. Meadows, steppes and marshes do not contribute greatly to the composition of the Park’s vegetation.The territory of the “Bashkiria” National Park accommodates the three natural monuments as follow: – See more at:
– “Kuperlya” karst bridge (“kuperlya” means “with a bridge” in Bashkir) located in the area frequented by tourists;- “Kutuk-Sumgan” isolated terrain feature (“kutuk” – “water well”, “sumgan” – “dived”) located in a specially protected zone. It is here that the famous Sumgan Cave is located;- “Bear’s Meadow” with the concentrated growth of Allium obliquum L. – See more at:
“Kuperlya” karst bridge (“kuperlya” means “with a bridge” in Bashkir) located in the area frequented by tourists
It is a natural bridge over the river. The given bridge is quite a rare form of karst in relief. In its essence the bridge is a ruined channel of an underground river and it runs through a deep canyon. Its height over the bed is 20 meters, width – 4 metes and length of its hanging part is 10 meters.
“Kutuk-Sumgan” isolated terrain feature (“kutuk” – “water well”, “sumgan” – “dived”) located in a specially protected zone. It is here that the famous Sumgan Cave is located.
The given natural boundary is a unique place from speleological and karst points of view, as here a variety of karst, erosion and cave forms, built with the help of recent karst being laid over older layers. There are a lot of calcium formations in the natural boundary: deep karst relicts, more than 30 caves different in size and depth. The sum length of major passages is 8.200 meters and depth – 126 meters. Passages in some caves are quite dangerous because of ice and underground rivers.

Zapovednik “Ilmensky”

The Ilmen Mountains are called the «Ural Switzerland» because of their beauty and unique diversity of minerals. In 1920 the Ilmen Mountains were announced a mineralogical reserve, one of the first nature reserves created in Russia.

The reserve’s rock diversity was determined by its long and complex geological history going back 2.3 billion years.

Its value to svience is connected with the presence of pegmatite veins (granite, syenite, miascite), where one can find topaz, aquamarine, phenacite, zircon, sapphire, tourmaline, amazonite and various less-common metal minerals. Such rocks as miascite, firsite and sandyite as well as 18 minerals (including ilmenite) were discovered here for the first time in the world.

The reserve’s relief is smoothed out and comprises a system of hills at different height. To the west it is limited by the flood plain of the river Miass, to the south and east – by a chain of large lakes of tectonic origin. The highest point, the Ilmen-Tau is 750 m above sea level.

Over forty rivers and nearly 30 lakes are registered in the reserve. More than 80 % of its territory is covered by forest, 50% pine and 44% birch. Larch, aspen, spruce and fir make up the remainder. Elm and lime are also found here. Oak and Siberian peashrub are cultivated. The characteristic feature of the reserve’s flora is its mosaicity. On the southern slopes of the Ilmens there are patches of typical mountain steppes.

Suslik, elk, white and grey hares, Eastern imperial and white-tailed eagle, common and Himalayan cuckoo, woodcock, whooper swan, common crane, peregrine and fish hawk are found here. Shrews, moles, hedgehogs, several species of voles, squirrels (common and flying), least weasel, ermine, European polecat, Siberian weasel and European pine marten are common. It is possible to meet fox, wolf and lynx. Occasionally brown bears appear in the outskirts. Elk and roe are not numerous. Sika deer and beaver are acclimatized.

The reserve’s climate is acutely continental with hot summers and cold winters. Its weather is unstable. Dry summers can alternate with rainy ones, and frosty winters with little snow – with mild and snowy ones.


Zapovednik “Shulgan-Tash”

The preserve is located at the point of intersection of two most beautiful rivers of the republic – the Belaya (White River) and the Yuruzan. In Bashkir epos these two rivers are often called the most beautiful, generous and noble helpers and bread-winners for the Bashkir people. The territory of the preserve is extremely rich in plants, relief and animals. A museum and excursion center has been organized in Shulgan Tash to provide its visitors with the opportunity to know about the beauty of Bashkortostan and to feel its freedom.Flora: Number of species of the plants is 880. The territory of reserve is classified forest and steppe nature zones, and also the European and Siberian bio-geographical areas with forest occupying the majority of the territory. Broad-leaved old-age forests with sections of glades with high grass and meadow steppes also prevail. Birch and white birch, black poplar, oak, maple, pine, Siberian spruce, gray alder, aspen are distributed throughout the reserve.Fauna: Number of species of fish: 27; Number of species of reptiles: 6; Number of nesting species of birds: 196; Number of species of mammals: 54. The fauna of the reserve is characteristic for the deciduous and mixed forests of the southern Urals. Forest marten, brown bears, wolves, lambs and roe are common. The famous Bashkir wild bee is protected.
In the reserve is the unique world famous Capova cave. Being a complex natural monument the cave is of great interest because of its structure: multiple grottos and halls connected by passages of various levels. Total length of all the cave passages is more than 2.7 km and the total volume of the cavities – about 86000 cubic metres. The cave walls are rich in calcite sinters of all shapes and sizes. The cave has three levels. Inside the cave the river “Underground Shulgan” flows forming a Blue Lake at its entrance. In the cave scientists found rock paintings made by primitive men in the Paleolithic Epoch.

Zapovednik “Vishersky”

The national reserve is located to the northeast of Krasnovishersky area and is the fourth largest in Europe. The reserve area is 2412 sq. km, that constitutes 1,5 % of Perm territory space. It is the most beautiful part of the Northern Urals.

The Perm Territory highest point – Tulymsky Stone, 1469,8 m high, is situated here. There are picturesque ranges with the beautiful names – Isherim, Molebny, Olkhovochny, Listvenichny, Sample-Chakhl, Saklaim-Sori-Chakhl, Put-Tump. Exciting views to the boundless dark blue distances open up from the tops of these ranges. Many of them are crowned with the gorgeous column rocks. Mountain lakes with the crystal pure water are placed on the slopes. Originating here and flowing down the national reserve territory Vishera, Niols, Bolshaya and Malaya Moyva, are the typically mountain rivers with rifts and rapids. On the rivers and streams there are waterfalls up to 9 m high. A number of water currents have underground channels. They dive into karstic cavities, and flow some time underground to erupt further to the surface.

There are about 500 species of vascular plants, more than 100 species of mosses and about 150 species of lichens in the reserve. Woods and stone rivers and seas remained hear intact. An elk, a bear, a sable, a marten, a beaver and many other animals are usual here. The rivers are full of graylings, burbots, minnows, bullheads, loaches.

On the top of 1128,1 m, called Saklaim-Sori-Chakhl the watersheds of three great Russian rivers Ob, Pechora and Volga meet. As this territory is reserved, its visiting is strictly regulated.


Zapovednik “Visimsky”

Zapovednik Vishersky, in the north of the Perm Region, was established in 1991. The area is 341,200 ha. It is located in northern Ural in the basin of the Vishera River to cover a single Vishera drainage area.

The Zapovednik includes ranges of the Ural axial zone with a part of the main Ural watershed (Oshe-Nyer Range), inter-mountain meridional depressions and the foothills of the Ural west-facing slope.

The plant cover is dominated by the mountain middle-taiga spruce-fir forests. At elevations more than 400 m above the sea level they become more rare and acquire northern-taiga features.

Elfin woodland and tall grass sub-alpine meadows are well developed in the subgolets zone (i.e., the zone below the bald mountains), which are replaced, higher above the sea level, by mountain heathlands with low mountain cypress (Juniper sibirica), dwarf birch (Betula nana) . and the willow thickets. In the golets zone, between 350 and 1000 m above the sea level mountain tundras are common; and higher than 1000 m above the sea level cold deserts occur (on the tops of the Tulymsky Kamen Range, Khus-Oik Mountain).

The flora comprises 460 vascular plant species, including 2 rare.

There are 45 mammalian species, 136 avian species, and 7 fish species. The wolf, fox, brown bear, sable — the largest population in the Perm Region, ermine moose, and wild reindeer are common. Among rare and endangered avian species are the osprey, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, peregrine falcon, and black stork. The fish fauna includes: grayling, taimen, and bullhead.


Zapovednik “Yuzhno-Uralsky”

Zapovednik Yuzhno-Uralsky, in Republic Bashkortostan and partly in Chelyabinsk Region, was established in 1978 . Its area is 255 thousand ha. It comprises nature complexes of mountain massive Bolshoy Yamantau (the highest elevation is 1640 m above the sea level) and the Zigalg range.

The plant cover includes mountain-taiga fir-spruce forests with nemoral elements; ferns are common in the understory; tall-herb sites are characteristic. There are also mountain-taiga pine forests. The herb-moss mountain tundras cover the tops of the mountains. There are plots with mountain-meadow vegetation. Rare plant species, listed in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation include the military orchis. Endemic plants are numerous: Gypsophila uralensis, Anemonastrum biarmiense, Rhodiola iremelica, Lathyrus litvinovi, Cicerbita uralensis, Knautia tatarica.

The following mammalian specie are characteristic: the moose, brown bear wolf, lynx, marten. The best represented avian family are Tetraonidae: capercaillie, black grouse, hazel grouse. A rare avian species is the golden eagle. There are numerous rare butterfly species, including mnemosina, listed in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation. The fish dwellers are the muddler, and European grayling.


National Park “Nechkinsky”

National Park Nechkinsky, in Votkinsky, Zavyalovsky and Sarapulsky Districts of the Republic of Udmurtia, was established in 1597. Its area is 20,7 thousand ha. It is located in the middle part of the Kama River valley and on the shore of the Votkinskoye Reservoir on the watershed of the Siva River, Kama tributary, and the Reservoir.

The depth of the incised valley is 100-160 m; width, 3 to 20 km. A sharp asymmetry of the valley slopes is characteristic: the left shore being fairly flat; and the right is steep. The width of the Kama river channel is about 1 km. The Kama wide floodplain is well-defined; often has crescent lakes and swamps, and there are pronounced above-floodplain fluvial terraces (from two to four levels).

The plant cover comprises complexes of taiga, mixed forests and steppe-forests. The most valuable nature communities are found on the left bank of the Nechkinka River. There are old pine forests. Oligotrophic and mesotrophic bogs are numerous.

The most notable nature monument landscape sites are as follows: Sidorovy Gory, Galevo, the mouth of the Siva River, the Kemulskoye bog (2 thousand ha), mineral water spring Makarovsky.


 Taganay National Park

The national eco park Taganay was established on 5 March 1991. It is located on the area of Zlatoust and Kusa region. Its name originated from Bashkir words “tagan” meaning a support and “ay” meaning the Moon.

The park area is 56,800 ha and exceeds the average European park areas. Among 29 national parks of Russia Taganay is the 20th according to its area, among the parks of the Ural Federal district it is the second one. Taganay is unique because this rather small area of land has animals and plants typical for the central part of the European Russia, north of Russia, the Volga area, Urals, Western and Central Siberia, Kazakhstan. The park has almost untouched precious eco systems – mountain tundra and meadows, sparse woodlands and relict forests. Although in mineral contents Taganay loses to the world famous Ilmeny (see Ilmeny Wildlife Park) the collection samples of Taganay minerals are exhibited at many museums in Russia and other countries

The park has more than 10 natural sites with more than 900 types of plants, more than 190 species of birds and 40 species of mammals. Among the natural sites are Dvuglavaya Mount, Bely Klyuch, Otkliknoy Greben Mount, Kruglitsa Mount, “Dolina Skazok”, “Bolshaya Kamennaya Reka”, Dalny Taganay Mount, Itsyl Mount, “Tri Brata”, “Eremeevskaya Kop”, “Akhmatovskaya Kop”, “Evgrafovsky Rudnik”, Bolshoe moss bog, broad-leaved woods on Dedyurikha Mount.



“Pripyshminskiye Bory” National Park

National Park Pripyshminskiye Bory, in Talitsky and Tugulymsky Districts of Sverdlovskaya Region, was founded in 1993. Its area is 49,2 thousand ha. It is situated in the basin of the river Pyshma (on two sites — Talitskaya and Tugulymskaya dachas).

In the Park unique natural systems of pine forests on ancient river terraces remain. The main pine forest area is located on first and second terraces of the Pyshma and go for 200 km, continuing in Tyumenskaya Region.

87% of the Park is forested; Pine forests with some spruce, birch and aspen prevail; in which cowberry bilberry, bilberry and grass pine forests are the main variants. On the territory of the Tugulymskaya dacha lichen and heather cowberry true moss pine forests are met. Complex pine forests with lime and spruce remain. There is cedar forest (“Abraham’s Island in the Bakhmetskoye bog), micropopulations of Siberian larch, and of fir.

Of rare plants in the Red Data Book of Russian Federation there are: yellow lady’s slipper, Orchis militaris, Stipa pennata. Genetic reserves of Scotch pine are preserved.

Of fauna species, those characteristic for these southern taiga and forest-steppe pine-birch forests are met: brown bear, elk, roe, marten, lynx, common weasel, badger, raccoon dog, and beaver.


 “Zyuratkul”National Park

National Park Zyuratkul, in Satkinsky District of Chelyabinsk Region was established in 1993. Its area is 87,4 thousand ha. It includes the high-mountain lake Zyuratkul (area 1350 ha) on the Southern Urals, surrounded by mountain ranges. It is the highest part of Southern Urals (mountain Bolshoy Nurgush rises 1406 m above the sea level).

An old legend says: “In ancient times beauty Jurmala, whimsical bride in anger broke the magic mirror, a gift from her hero Semigorye. One small splinter flew away into the mountains iprevratilsya in a beautiful lake, clear, transparent, as the tears pretty girl. Since then, the lake is like a magnet, like magic, attracts people. Having been once they leave here forever part of his heart, his soul, and then again to seek its shores, as if on a date with your beloved. Not by chance the lake is called – Zyuratkul, which translated from the Bashkir means “heartlake”.

This lake is situated 724 metres above the Baltic Sea level and has a volume of 80 million cubic metres. It is fed by springs and about 20 rivers and small streams with only the Bolshaya Satka river having it’s source there. It is retained by a dam and covers an area of 13.2 square kilometers, has an average depth of 4-5 metres (maximum 12 metres) and a circumference of 26 kilometres. This unique lake is the only one in the southern Urals which lays on the western slopes.
Water exchange is high – the entire volume of water is replaced each year. Lake Zyuratkul, a hydrological natural icon, is the main freshwater reservoir in the Chelyabinsk Region. Rivers flowing through the park are few and don’t carry a lot of water, but, to make up for it, their water is pure and transparent – a perfect home for grayling, burbot (eel-pout), crucian, gudgeon, perch,  ruff, small fry and others.
The animal world of the national park is abundant and diverse. About 40 animal species inhabit the park’s forested areas, mountain plateaus and low-lying marshy lands. Zyuratkul’s wildlife includes bears and elks (as the largest animals), fur-bearing animals such as hares and squirrels, as well as minks, martens, and red-furred foxes and there are almost 150 different kinds of birds winging the skies overhead.
Around Lake Zyuratkul there are a few mountain ranges – Nourgoush mountain range being the most dominant. It is the highest mountain ridge (1406 metres) in the Chelyabinsk Region. At the top of the rugged mountains there is a broad plateau covered with tundra vegetation. This plateau is one of the most remarkable sights of the park. It is a popular belief that Father Frost (Father Christmas) actually lives here. The Zyuratkul mountain range (1175 м) is made distinctive by a group of three giant mountain ridges titled “Bears”. Geologists discovered the rare “paleovolcano” (“Moscal” ridge), containing a vast underground store of minerals (more than 70 types) in its crater – the stones being found in an area of only one square kilometre – truly a phenomenon on a world scale!

During the last 60 years of the XXth century, 12 archeological monuments were discovered here. All of them relating to the Stone Age – an epoch of Mesolithic and Neolithic times (VII-V thousand years B.C.). These sites contain the remnants of life of hunters and fishers who lived here for a short duration. They settled down at the mouths of the small rivers (sites Small Kyl and Big Kyl) and on the capes, which jut out into the lake (parking Sandy Cape, Birch Cape). The great bulk of finds on these sites was pottery, work instruments made from stone, their fragments and waste products of manufacture.

In the national park “Zyuratkul” there are so many fascinating places. Come to the park in the winter and you will see a strange sculpture made from blue ice – the ice fountain. A thin jet of ice water soars upwards almost to a height of 10 metres but in winter a column of pure(clean) blue ice 14 metres high freezes on the fountain. This fountain actually has an artificial origin – geologists once drilled a hole from which the jet of tasty, cold water (even in the hottest time) began spout upwards. Since then this unusual “fountain” in the taiga has been an attraction for many tourists



6 thoughts on “So you want to know a little about the Ural Mountains

      1. Kazan, been here for over 2 years now and loving it. After researching this post, I really want to visit them. But the one place right now that is on my heart is Udmurtia. Have you been there?

      2. No. I traveled a lot in the USSR in all places where there were large textile mills (business trips actually in all republics) and was on vacations on lakes, rivers and Black Sea. Long time I lived in Tashkent and Moscow.

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