The Bicaz Canyon (Cheile Bicazului – literally The Keys of Bicaz in Romanian) represents one of the most beautiful and impressive natural attractions in Romania. Unfortunately, this place is little known abroad, as well as in Romania. Being one of the few existing links between Moldavia and Transylvania, it always manages to make each day more beautiful to drivers and travelers that are just passing through.
The Keys of Bicaz have a long history that spans on thousands of years. Located in the Hasmas Massif, (subdivision of the Moldavian-Transylvanian Carpathians) they have benefited from certain geological conditions to form as we see them today. The massif is composed mainly of limestone and other soluble rocks, which allowed the Bicaz River to dig for thousands and hundreds of years until it crossed them, creating a thin valley between the tall standing massives. Thus the tourists can look up in awe at the Altar Stone (1120 m) or the Pintestilor Stone of 847 meters. It seems hard to believe at first that the creek that remained now of the old Bicaz River has managed to dig once. But the water was once much stronger, demonstrated by even by the giant lake that seems like a little sea in the mountains. Issued by the dam, the water could create a real flood.
Tourists can enjoy imposing massives with several waterfalls, but also with caves and potholes. Unfortunately, not all tourists knew how to leave this stone paradise to others, not even from respect to the long period in which it formed. And there you can see inscriptions in red paint, drawn hearts and even letters embedded in rock. Some of them required real climbing skills, but the destruction is irreparable. Currently, several chains and signs are designed to stop such activities.
In the Keys of Bicaz is usually quiet, interrupted only by car engines and tourists expressions of amazement. Indeed, it’s very hard not to remain astounded by all the beauty gathered in one place. High and white ridges, interspersed with various species of trees on both sides of the Bicaz, create the sensation that they are going to fall in any moment, especially because of the sharp curves.
The area covers a distance of 8 km, in which those who suffer from car sickness will certainly not have too much fun. The whole route is composed of dangerous serpentines, plus ups and downs. The road is narrow, with only two ways, any overtaking being almost suicide in the circulated periods. Unfortunately, sometimes there is a risk of a long journey if in front you have two trucks that do not hurry at all.
In some places there’s enough room to park more cars and there are many stalls with crafts and souvenirs. Also in here, the tourists usually stop to take pictures or simply watch the landscape better. Although the surrounding villages are indeed famous for traditional arts (clothes, carpets, wooden objects, etc.), it’s good for tourists to be careful with what they buy, having a good chance to wake up at home with a product “made in China” purchased overpriced.
The Keys of Bicaz, plus the surrounding forest and pastures, have been declared national park, a special regulation with plenty of provisions. In terms of rural tourism, this is quite developed in the area, numerous villas and chalets offering accommodation at very decent prices. In addition, you can also find available camping sites, an experience in the area proving to be quite cheap for those prepared.
Besides the Keys of Bicaz, you can also visit the surrounding localities. The keys link the cities Bicaz and Gheorgheni. Bicaz city is worth visiting for the beautiful landscape surrounding it, while the city Gheorgheni offers interesting architecture and a piece of history for those interested. Both the Catholic cathedral and the history museum are quite common locations on the map of the culture and medieval architecture lovers. In both places you can find accommodation for those of you wishing to extend your stay at relatively affordable prices.
Immediately after the Keys of Bicaz you can see the Red Lake, another masterpiece of nature that deserves to be added to the route. This is sought by the tourists from the neighborhood on weekends, because here they can relax. Their only desire is to see the road repaired. Many blame the craters that look like post-bombing for the lack of interest for the area, which may well be true. Fortunately, some pieces are currently under construction so maybe next time the Sun shall also rise for the Keys of Bicaz.