Russia’s Big Stone River – A Little Known Natural Wonder

The most interesting sight of Taganai Park, in the southern Ural Mountains, Big Stone River consists of thousands of large stone boulders cutting a path through a thick forest of pine trees.

Stone rivers, also known as stone runs, can be found all over the world, from Bulgaria’s Vitosha Mountains, to the Falkland Islands, but none are as impressive-looking as the Big Stone River, in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast region. Spanning 6 km long, this gigantic conglomeration of boulders starts off as several small “streams” with and average width of 20 meters that later join to form a large stone river with an average width of 200 meters (in some places up to 700 meters). Big Stone River is considered the most interesting sight of Taganai Park, and one of the most impressive in all of Russia.

Photo: Alexander Petrov

Legends and stories of how Big Stone River came to be abound in the southern Urals, but scientists believe that it is the result of a glacier breaking off from the higher peaks of the Taganai over 10,000 years ago and flowing down into the valleys, leaving a trail of aventurine – a type of quartz – in its wake.

The thing that sets Big Stone River apart from other stone run around the world and makes it live up to its name, is the way it cuts through a thick pine forest like a real river, only one that hasn’t moved an inch for thousands of years. The layer of boulders, some of which weigh up to 10 tonnes, is between 4 and 6 meters deep, which makes it almost impossible for vegetation other than lichens to grow in the “river”. The only notable exceptions are two old pine trees near the Otkliknoy Crest.

Photo: Mountainsfoto

While seeing the aventurine boulders that make up Bigs Stone River is a memorable experience, the best way to experience this natural wonder is from above.


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