Chuya Highway is one of the most beautiful highways in the world, going through the Altay Mountains, in the heart of Siberia, Russia. Bear in mind that it’s not an easy trip: the road can be quite steep and winding.
The R256 (Р256) road, also known as Chuya Highway is 953 km (592 mi) long, and runs north-south from Novosibirsk (in the southwestern part of Siberia) to the Mongolian border. It’s part of the Asian Highway AH4. It is asphalted and offers stunning views of snow-capped mountain peaks, azure lakes and winding rivers. This trade route played an important role in the exchange of goods between the Russian Empire and Mongolia. It passes through the territory of the Novosibirsk region, the Altai krai and the Altai Republic.
Today it’s a regular road but it was a horse path some years ago, extremely dangerous, especially in winter and spring. In 1903 another road was built and since 1927 it is possible to drive by car. The road was covered by crushed stone and only one car could to move on it. Drivers often had to give a signal to warn other cars, because cars could to pass one another only at special pockets. It was constructed by gulag inmates. The dual highway was built in 1984 only. The road can be pretty crowded with trucks, on the way from Russia to Mongolia.
The road climbs up several mountain passes: Seminsky Pass (1.894m-6,213ft), Chike-Taman Pass (1.246m-4,087ft) and Pereval Durbet-Daba (2.482m-8,143ft). Between Novosibirsk and Biysk the road follows the right bank of the Ob River. Along the road you’ll find hotels, petrol stations and cafés offering European, Altai and Kazakh dishes. However, since the southern part of the Chuysky Trakt is more isolated and has no hotels, it is advisable to carry a tent, a sleeping bag and a camping stove.