The Trails of Stolby


The camp inside the park is super close to the central stairs – great for us! On the days it wasn’t pouring, we made our way up and out into the main bouldering/hiking section. Many day visitors don’t go too far along this route, being content with reaching the picnic/play area at the top.


Past the stairs, almost immediately after, is First Pillar. It’s nice, not particularly climbable in the upward direction but fun to scramble around on. There are little training boulders scattered around, including some for kids.
The path from there splits. On the first day we visited the yellow/blue trail. The markers are a vivid stripe of blue and another of yellow on trees and rocks around the park. It’s a pretty short hike and really focuses on climbable boulders and pillars.


Some of the rocks have names, some of them don’t. We found a fun one to climb on the way to Ded (grandpa) pillar. Here we got to scramble through a little stone chimney and wander around somewhat above the treeline.


There was a nice little ascension point at the base which was a good warmup for the slightly harder second half of the climb, just out of sight of the picture.


Ded pillar is a pretty popular one. We met a few families climbing around on it. There’s a low easy section that’s a lot of fun to run around on and has some hollow sections that fill up with rain to make ponds. From here you can see over the park and into the city. There was a whole family leaning over to take a selfie with Krasnoyarsk. Ded rock also has a much, much harder second portion.


You can climb on the taller segments but the path is hard and not straightforward. We only know this because we saw an old man gripping his way around the rock. He was leathery and cut, probably climbing these rocks most days.


Around the loop we hiked, skipping Perya Rock, instead reaching in about half an hour Third Pillar (3rd rock!). Lots of good climbing on this one! The paths in this part of the forest intersect rather freely, so we had to make sure we were on our trail several times. There’s at least one path that goes from this area all the way back to town.

Right nearby is Fourth Pillar, and then the trail loops back around towards first and second pillars.


Back to camp we went, let the rains pass for a day, and headed out again. This time we went on the purple trail. This trail goes way south into the explorable region of the park, does a tight loop, and returns. It’s a lot more hike-y and way less climb-y than the other trails, though there are still some good rocks to be found. It has a lot more bog and mosquitoes, so that’s not as nice. But the wildlife is wilder – we saw a pack of wolves (wolf and german shepherd mixes mostly) running not 40 feet from us. We did not get a picture, but we also didn’t get eaten, so yay!


Along that route we saw a lot of weathered rocks – large pockmarks and crevices.


And plenty of good rocks for climbing.


Some more difficult than others.


We actually got to the end of the purple trail, dire warning sign and all! It makes sense in this park – the land here is supposed to remain free of human interaction, and the only way to guarantee that is to ban most humans from entering the true nature reserve. The chipmunks living past this line in the forest do not get fed nuts and berries from tourists.


Out near the final rock someone had set up a little picnic area, a little disused. We saw some traces of previous visitors but really, if you want to be alone in nature, this is the spot.


On our way back we had the pleasure of searching for the Cain and Abel rocks. This was a fun diversion for a while and really got the sweat flowing. The trail we came in by is at ground level, while the ‘loop’ portion of it is ten or more meters above that, so we spent a lot of time climbing straight up a very steep slope looking for the loop portion of the trail. We got lost for a while, going much further east than we intended, and had to backtrack.


Finally our legwork paid off – we found the trail and the rocks we were looking for.


The view from the top was grand. The day was clear and we could see the park stretching on and on.


There were other large rocks within out sight and we could see where parts of the forest had been burned or hit by disease. A real bird’s eye view!


The rock we were on had some climbable rocks jutting out pretty far over the cliff proper. Here Natalie climbs those rocks while I sit grumpily afraid of heights for her in the background.


The nature in the park is remarkable. Trees here grow huge from the tiniest cracks in the pillars. One day they’ll help force apart the rock and cause their eventual collapse.


Here is one such fantastic tree, its roots crawling all over the rock searching for any purchase. We were not the first people to sit in it for a picture, we definitely won’t be the last. That tree is rooted in tight.


Done with Cain and Abel, we headed home. On the last stretch back we encountered Farm Rock (ferma). We’d been seeing signs for this rock the whole time we were here, and we finally found it! It’s a good short-hop bouldering site with lots of interesting low-height routes. Why it’s called a farm, I have no idea.


We had a great time hiking and climbing in Stolby. Since we were there taking pictures, we also made this map of the paths we explored!

Stolby Nature Reserve


The Stolby Nature Reserve (also called the Stolby National Park) is a treasure of Krasnoyarsk. It covers a huge area, in keeping with the general hugeness of its part of the world. The open-to-visitors part of the park is only 3.5% of the total acreage and yet this tiny slice holds enough to keep anyone entertained for days and months. Its singular in-park campsite plays host to scouts, school groups, vacationers, live-in travelers – anyone with a tent or a group of friends to split a bungalow with. A tent spot is ~350 rubles, or about $7 a night. One of our campmates had been living in his tent and exploring the park for almost a month on an extended vacation from Germany. We, and most other visitors, stayed for about 3-5 days at a time. That’s enough to get a good glimpse of the park and visit, but not linger, on most of its trails.


Stolby is famous world-wide for its free-climbing. The park is filled with stories-tall rocks full of pockmarks, crevices, and grippy surfaces. Climbing heaven in other words. Aside from the rocks the park is home to (from the informative sign) : 780 types of plants, 295 types of mushrooms, 171 types of lichen, 257 types of moss, 212 types of birds, and 58 types of mammals.


Getting to the park usually involves taking a bus (the 80, 50, and 19 are the main busses that go there) unless you want to drive. They cost some small amount of rubles (when we went it was 22r) and there’s a ticket-person walking around the bus who takes your money and gives you a ticket receipt. If you’re unsure, like we were, just ask “Stolby?” and they’ll give you a da or nyet. Krasnoyarsk is relatively used to tourists despite being far from the main western stops of Moscow and St.Petersburg. The stop you want is called “toor baza” (тур база) – literally, tour base. This is a bit tricky because the google results for park entrance put you three stops down. If you pass the zoo you’ve gone too far, it’s one stop before that.

A blurry shot of the spot where the bus will drop you off.

And the actual entrance to the park on the other side of the street.

Once inside the park there’s a little guard post. There’s no entrance fee, a map costs a few dollars. There are little kiosks up the main trail of the park that sell snacks, water, souvenirs, and maps. These are great for day hiking, but won’t help for long-term camping.

One of the many kiosks. Sunflower seeds are a must, and the fruit piroshki are quite good.

People buy and bring seeds to feed the chipmunks and birds in the park too. The hike up to the ‘central point’ of the park takes an hour or two depending on pack weight, and just past it is the campsite.

The central stairs leading up to the main park trails.

The tent area in the campsite. There are also bungalows further up.

The camp is really nice – platforms for the tents, running potable water, enclose squat-toilets, free-to-use gas stove and sink, and frigid showers (sometimes the sun warms up the water a little). It’s way better than most paid campsites we’ve seen so far in our trip. They don’t sell food though, so anything you want to eat has to be brought up from a store.



A word of caution : some of the rangers at the campsite do not speak English. Since there’s only one ranger there most of the time, there’s a very good chance the person you find will not speak English. Prepare yourself for this by downloading the Russian language in google translate or have a phrase dictionary, or have a friend write out what you want to say. Some useful words for this are : hello (Здравствуйте – zdrastvayte), we want to camp(хотим лагерем – hotim lagerem), tent (палатка – palatka), one(один – adin), two(два – dva), three(три – tri), four(четыре – cheteire), five(пять – pyat), days(дней – dnei), how much does it cost?(сколько стоит? – skolka stoeet?), and is there space(есть место? – yest mesto?). On the upside the camp seems to not fill up very often and they do take reservations if you can get a Russian speaking friend or hostel host to call for you.