The Bihorului Mountains offer spectacular views to those willing to explore them. One of the most important sightseeing objectives is the Ruginoasa Hole, a 100 m deep and 1 km (0.62 miles) wide ravine.
Location: the Ruginoasa Hole is found in the Apuseni Natural Park, near Arieseni commune, in Bihorului Mountains, on the northern versant of the Tapu Mountain, at the source of Dry Valley.
Altitude: 1373 m. GPS Coordinates: N 46 31′ 25”, E 22 30′ 10”
Access: you can get here only:
– By car – DN 75 – from the town of Beius > Stei > Lunca > Campani > Baita > before reaching Saua Vartop (altitude of 1140 m) at approximately 28 km (~17.5 miles) from the Lunca village’s exit, after a sharp turn (180°) you will find information on a panel about the Ruginoasa Hole. You can leave the car parked in an improvised parking lot before the sharp turn.
– By car – DN 75 – from the town of Campeni > Arieseni > Vartop area > you will find the entrance for the route that leads to the Ruginoasa Hole once the road starts to descend towards Stei town in the aforementioned sharp turn.
In full touristic season you might not find an empty parking spot near the entrance of the route. In this case, leave your car near the Vartop Resort. You will have to walk approximately 10 minutes until you reach the entrance.
Touristic Route: the specific marker for this route is the yellow tape. From the concrete road one must steer to the left part of the valley. There is ascension through the woods that is quite steep, but accessible to every tourist.
At its provenience, the valley becomes flat like a glade with no water. There is a saddle set between the Tapu Peak (left) and La Morminti Peak (right) before our eyes.
Estimated necessary time to get here: 25 -35 minutes.
Ruginoasa Hole phenomenon: the ravine (term that we often encounter in the specialized literature) is divided into many sectors of extremely sharp ridges that converge downwards, forming a vale at the provenience of the Dry Valley.
The most impressive ridge is found on the right part of the ravine. It ascends vertiginous from the base of the Hole until the superior part of it. None of these ridges can’t be climbed due to the geological element that formed the entire phenomenon. Everything is fragile. It is a precarious coat of sand and gravel ready to collapse and slide at any time.
Geological history: The alternations of red, yellow and pink layers reveal the way these layers were formed 200 million years ago. It was a dry, continental environment, and not the bottom of the sea (where most of the rocks that form mountains were shaped).
According to the theories of the geologists, the disposition of layers reveals the presence of a desert, where weather phenomena swept the sand in dunes and dams. This theory has been confirmed by the reddish tint of the rocks. The climate was warm and desert-like at that time.
Geological evolution: topographical maps at the end of the 20th century showed a hollow of less than 200 m in diameter. In the 30’s an ample phenomenon is discovered. Now the ravine measures almost 1 km in diameter.
Especially after rainfall one could see how the hole “works”: how the sediments are washed by the water along the Dry Valley, finally reaching the Yellow Valley (named after the color of the deposit washed from the Ruginoasa Hole).
Continuation of the route:
– for those of you who do not possess technical skills of using ropes, we advise you to continue the route towards the Pietrele Negre area. Follow the marker, the red cross. You will benefit in this sector from the spectacular views above the Beiusului Hollow. In order to return to the car, we suggest that you follow the same access road.
– for those people that possess advanced skills in mountaineering, caving or canyoning we suggest continuing the track toward
The Dry Valley Canyon. Tis is the downstream of the Ruginoasa Hole.
Access to the canyon: from the platform of the Ruginoasa Hole, we suggest you to go down (without ropes, but pay extra attention) through the left part of the Hole. We suggest the two options that are shown in the following pictures:
– Along the herbaceous area. The slope is accessible and with a little bit of attention one could reach the base of the slope (verified route).
– Along the forest (unverified route, but found as a suggestion in specialized literature).
We suggest that: you don’t descend on either route if you don’t have appropriate shoes with sturdy soles (boots). Due to the lean terrain and the structure of the rocks, you might slip or slide.
On descending you must be equipped with a helmet, since the detritus might cause the rocks to move, hurting your mates.
Do not descend on this route with enormous rucksacks, because it might slow you down, increasing the chance of you having an accident. Do take a cell phone; in case of an accident call 112 (the number of the emergency calls in Romania). They will guide you towards the rescue teams in the area.
Once you reached the base of the slope you got to the upstream of the canyon. In order to continue, you have to follow the flow of the valley.
Do admire the impressive phenomenon that you leave behind – the Ruginoasa Hole. From here you can see the span of the phenomenon.
Technical conditions of covering the ground: the canyon is very well equipped with permanent anchors which helps you to descend. Not many people visit this canyon and even locals do not know about it. Explanation: the exit of the canyon is quite far from civilization. The good part is that the valley still maintains its wildlife and that is difficult to find these days.
Equipment needed for the Dry Valley Canyon:
The individual necessary equipment: harness, helmet, descending device. We recommend that you bring with you a survivor’s foil, and a caving or canyoning rucksack.
Group equipment: 30 m rope, a set of 1 or 2 thread, knots of strap of 1m or 2 m diameter.
Also do take food with you.
As the name hints, Dry Valley makes covering the canyon in 90% of the cases to be without waterfalls or any water at all. It is not necessary to take neoprene diving suits.
Worst case scenario, you will get wet a little, in case there is some water.
We suggest that you take rubber boots, since river bed has many layers of sediment.
Time estimated in covering the canyon: in order to cover the ground it is necessary to descend 14 waterfalls that will take on average 3-4 hours.
You must take into consideration the necessary time for the return to Ruginoasa Hole (if you leave your car there). In case you have an acquaintance that can pick you up from Yellow Valley, that is a good option of returning safely and faster.
Canyoning route: Dry Valley Canyon contains 14 waterfalls of different sizes, varying from 3 m to 15 m. At each waterfall, close to the sharp ridges, where the area is considered safe, you will find two anchors.
Be careful: the two anchors are missing from one waterfall. We recommend that you use a block of stone and a cord wrapped around it. It is better to have with you a person that has advanced canyoning skills and even mountaineering skills for better perspective of the problems that might occur while covering the canyon.
We recommend: that you find out the weather forecast, since the situation might change in case of rainfall – the water level might increase shortly after. In this case, the best option is to not enter the canyon.
The return: if you left your car in the Ruginoasa Hole area, you have two options to return.
– On the unmarked route, taking the path parallel to the Dry Valley – either to the left or to the right.
– On the marked track, consulting the map of the Padis area – after you get to the Yellow Valley, go upstream on the path that leads to the red markers. In this case the distance will be quite considerable and the estimated time for returning is approximately 5 hours.
By car, in case a mate or an acquaintance picks you up from the Yellow Valley (by consulting the map of the Padis area).
Don’t forget: find out the weather forecast, and if there is rainfall we suggest that you pick another sightseeing objective to visit.
Suggestion: if you decide to visit other objectives in the area, don’t hesitate to see the Scarisoara Ice Cave, the biggest underground glacier in Romania. Also check out other caves from Apuseni Natural Park.
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