Shorsky National Park

This park was established in 1990 in order to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Shoria Mountain and the traditions of environmental management by the local population. The park’s typical natural environment consists of virgin forests, rapid rivers, picturesque rocks and waterfalls.

The park represents a system of mountains divided into sections by river plains. Its average altitude is 500-800 metres above sea level; the individual summits rise to a height of 1500 metres. These are the following mountains: Lysuha – 1648m, Kubez – 1555m, Karatag – 1323m and various others.

The park is situated in the south of the Kemerovo Region in Mt. Shoria and occupies the south-eastern part of the Tashtagol administrative district. It borders the Altay Republic in the south-west and the Khakasia Republic – in the south-east. The park stretches 110 km from north to south, 90 km – from east to west. Its area is 413.8 thousand hectares.

The park is covered by a network of rivers and streams. The main waterway is the Mrassu River which crosses the park from south to north, dividing it into two relatively even parts. The river flows from the joint of three small rivers from the Abakan Range. The Mrassu’s length within the park’s territory is 181 kilometres. Another huge river of the park is the Kondoma (60 km long).

In order to reach Shorsky Park, one should head to Kemerovo or Novokuznetsk by land, by train or by air and then proceed to Tashtagol town by train or by bus.

Plant life
Forests occupy more than 90 % of the entire park area. The dark coniferous taiga is the predominant type of vegetation in the park. There are also pine woods and cedar forests. The specific features of the dark coniferous taiga include the predominance of fir-trees and pine with tall-grown shrubs (the European bird cherry, the Siberian mountain ash and the cranberry tree) and tall-grown grass (up to 2.5 metres high) such as the northern wolfsbane, the bee larkspur, the melancholy thistle etc.

The cedar forests are encountered mostly on the Mrassu’s banks, resulting in Shorians calling it a “cedar river”. The cedar is the most powerful taiga tree. It could reach 40 meters in height and 1 meter in diameter. There are species that can be up to 400 years of age. Among the park’s tree species the cedar tree is notable not only for its beauty, long life and power but also for its useful properties. The cedar nut is one of the most high-energy products; its kernel contains 60-70% of fat that is easily taken up by our body.

There are more than 500 vascular plant species present in the park. A wide range of plant species had been used by local Shorians as food or medicine products. There over 60 rare species at Shorsky Park.

Animal life
There are 60 mammal and 180 bird species living in the park. One can encounter the kingly Siberian stag or a mighty elk, a slim musk deer or a fearful roe deer, a furry sable or a graceful mink, an awkward wolverine or an agile lynx.

There is also the boar and the bear, the hazel grouse and the wood grouse as well as rare species listed in the Russian Red Book: the white-tailed eagle, the golden eagle, the fish hawk, the grey heron, the bean goose, the needle-tailed swift as well as the river otter and the reindeer.

The crystal clear rivers of the Shoria Mountain are populated with 14 fish species including the grayling, the lenok, the taimen and the burbot.

The following species are considered protected and rare: the Parnassian butterfly; the fish hawk, the golden eagle, the saker falcon, the black stork, the rock ptarmigan; the musk deer.

Natural attractions
There more than 70 known natural attractions in the park’s territory including: picturesque rocks, cave systems, waterfalls, rare plant species habitats, unique natural communities.

The Saga Waterfall is situated at the Sholbychek stream 200 meters from the Mrassu river. The fall pours down to a small cold lake near which there is a little grotto that then turns into a cave with a very narrow entrance. The very rare plant – the Siberian clematis – grows at the waterfall’s steep slopes.

The Tsar’s Gates are the picturesque 100 meter-high rocks situated at the Mrassu’s right bank. The rocks’ colour changes depending on weather conditions and light. During sunny weather the rocks are light, grey-white with a pink hue; in the cloudy and rainy weather they become dull-grey with a bit of a purple. Near the top there is a tear drop-shaped hole that is several meters in diameter.

The wide spread occurrence of the limestone contributes to the formation of caves which are encountered in numbers at the river’s banks. The caves often form multi-level systems.

The most famous cave is the Big Kizass Cave. It is situated at the right bank of the Kizass River at a height of 80 meters above the water surface, 30 meters below the Viewing Point. There is a glacier near the cave entrance. The bottom of the cave is covered with clay and stone blocks. Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites protrude all throughout the cave. There are beautiful dripstone cascades and calcific crust on the cave’s walls. There are also many offshoots. Their total length is 600 meters. The cave is double-decked; the decks are connected via 15 meters deep wells.

Culture and history
The indigenous population of the Shoria Mountain is the Turkic-speaking Shorian people. They live in the south of the Kemerovo Region along the rivers of Tom, Mrassu and Kondoma. Up until the 18th century, the Shorians had been famous for their skill of mining and smelting the iron stone as well as their smith craft. During 17th- 18th centuries they were known as the “kuznetsky Tatars”.

The official term “Shorians” was adopted at the end of the 19th century by academician V. Radlov. The traditional occupations of the Shorians include hunting, agriculture, and provision of wild eatable plants, fishery and beekeeping. In the past, the Shorians manufactured clay ware, processed wood and leather etc.

100 kilometres from the town of Tashtagol, at the mouth of the Anzas River (the right tributary of the Mrassu) there is an ancient Shorian “ulus” (a settlement), the Ust-Anzas. The former gold field is situated 1 km from the settlement, at the bank of the mountain river Shimtilygol.

The “Tazgol” eco-museum is located in the centre of the Ust-Anzas village, at the picturesque bank of a river of the same name. The museum area is 5 hectares divided into four museum zones. Licensed hunting and fishing are allowed in the park’s territory; with fishing requiring a payment. trans siberian railway