Nenets Autonomous Okrug

Big Gates Canyon

The Big Gate opens up in the middle reaches of the Belaya River, a tributary of the Indigirka. Here, the riverbed crosses the basalt ridge of the northern part of the Timan Range, the oldest mountains dating from the primordial Devonian Period and a kind of oasis emerged among the tundra landscape: high cliffs covered with trees. For three kilometres, basalt rocks rise above the water, up to 90 m high. The slopes of these rocks show that 400 million years ago, the coast of a prehistoric sea lay here. Fossilised shells and the bones of ancient fish, trilobites, corals, and plants have become part of the rocks and can be seen on the cliffs.

Address: Nenets Autonomous District
Site on the map

The natural monument covers an area of 212 ha and has the status of a protected area. Instead of low-growing shrubs, common in the Malozemelskaya tundra, a dense forest grows here: firs, birches, aspens, ash berries, juniper, red currant bushes, and ferns. There are rare species of endangered mountain tundra plants: glaucous meadow-grass, hawksbeard, silene paucifolia, moss bush, and arctic gentian. The forest is inhabited by white hares, Arctic foxes, common foxes, ermines, wolves, moose, and wolverines. There are 30 species of birds, of which the most common are passerines and waders, as well as widgeons, teals, goosanders and bean geese, merlins and rough-legged buzzards of the hawk family.

And that is not even the most interesting thing. Above all, the canyon is famous for its agate deposit, which is called the agate mineralisation of the Northern Timan. The gems here are interspersed with rocks, and beautiful fallen stones can be found right in the shallows. Usually, they are agates and amethysts, less often smoky quartz and rock crystal: free ready-made souvenirs.

Some people come to the Big Gates Canyon specifically to look for semi-precious stones.

In addition to stones and landscapes, there are excellent fishing spots on the Belaya River: these are the places where salmon spawn and chars and graylings can be caught. They say that the fish in transparent, clear water can be seen from the basalt shores, and there are so many fish that it is impossible to leave without a catch: you can catch something with every cast of your rod. Sport and recreational fishing on the Belaya is allowed in accordance with the fishing regulations.

The city closest to the canyon is Naryan-Mar; the closest settlement is the village of Indiga, 40 km from the Big Gate. The easiest way to get to the canyon is by helicopter from Naryan-Mar (1.5 hours) or from Indiga, to which there are two flights from Naryan-Marare per week. The village, like most of the Nenets Autonomous District, belongs to the border zone, and if you travel by air, you must get a permit. This can be done in Naryan-Mar or through the Unified Public Services Portal in advance.

The overland route is as follows: Indiga village – Vyucheysky village — crossing the Indiga River — crossing the road for 4x4s along the Ievka river to the Bolvanskaya hill (Lake Kamennoe) — crossing the ridge or following the bank of the Kamennaya Viska River downstream to the Belaya River — going downstream along the Belaya River to the intersection of the river with the Kamennougolnaya Ridge of Chaytsinsky Stone. This is the route by water: raft down the Belaya River from another natural monument, the complex of giant outcroppings at Stone City, which is located upstream. It can be reached by helicopter from Naryan-Mar or reached by snowmobile.