A natural monument of stone, water and green thickets, the Grand Canyon carves a deep gorge in the Ai-Petri massive of the Crimean Mountains. The Auzun-Uzen River flows at the bottom of the canyon, 320 meters below the top. Almost vertical walls of the gorge here and there converge, leaving a narrow space of a couple of meters at the bottom. Formed about 2 millions years ago, the Grand Canyon is relatively young. Indents on the steep slope correspond to spurs on the opposite one, with oak and Crimean pine trees hanging over the gulf. It is cool, quiet and shady in the canyon even under the hot Crimean sun in July. One of the first highlights encountered on the trail from the remnants of the notorious Postal Oak Tree, is the cold Blue Lake which is the broadest and deepest basin of the canyon and attracts seasoned swimmers. The abundant Paniya Spring would be the next one. A part of the gorge frequently visited by tourists ends by the Bath of Youth. Bathing in the cold, 9-11C water becomes usually a turning back point since the trail continuation demands some expertise in the mountain climbing. But those who make it would be awarded with unparalleled impressions and experience. In a few steps, you would find yourself in a deep quietness; rock baths heated in sun would welcome solely you; river bed would become clogged with stone lumps lathed by water; it would grow darker, and skies above would turn into a narrow blue line. Moss covered rubbles of unusual green and crystal clear water of springs and waterfalls is encased with lush ferns at the bottom of the gorge and varied trees, bushes and grasses on the slopes. Hornbeam, ashes, beech, oak, field maple, linden trees are wide spread in the gorge. Underbrush consists of hazel shrubs, dogwood, barberry and smoke bushes. 15-meter high yew trees with 1.5 meter trunk girth are seen as dwarfs on the high canyon’s walls. Rare ferns, endemic saxifrage, relic ruscus and some Crimean orchids, including Cypripedium calceolus, would be of interest either for botanists or general nature lovers. The brooks are inhabited with salmon thanks to cold and saturated with oxygen water. Hiking in the canyon you would encounter hedgehogs and lizards, though you might be lucky to see a deer roe too.
The Grand Canyon of the Crimea is a powerful place to see. When numbered mountain brooks and rivers fill the canyon with rough waters, the turbulent roaring flow at the bottom sweeps through the gorge tossing massive rubbles as tiny pebbles. When it is cold streams of the waterfalls turn into silver icicles. When hot, small rivers and brooks dry out and leave good space for hiking in the canyon. For safety reasons, it is advisable using a professional guide for the canyon visits, as well as taking weather conditions into consideration when planning this hike.