Located 45 km to the north of Shahroud, Semnan province, there exists Abr (‘Cloud’) Forest, one of the oldest and most beautiful forests in Iran, a fascinating natural setting far beyond imagination, showcasing a wonderful ecosystem with an abundance of fogs covering the ground and vegetation which attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists every year.
As temperature drops a few hours before sunset and due to the closeness of two high and low pressure regions, namely Gorgan Plain and Abr region, clouds start developing on the saddles of mountains and scurrying into the forest. At this moment, the forest is veiled in thick fogs and visibility decreases to a meter ahead, providing visitors a memorable chance to enjoy walking in the midst of clouds as if they are walking on the clouds.
Within the thick forests, it is hard to believe that you are in Semnan province in a short distance from Iran’s Central Desert and Khartouran National Park (a biosphere reserve), realizing the reason of calling Shahroud ‘a small continent’: the cloud forest in the north and the central desert in the south.
As visitors go past the city of Bastam, scenes of the clouds far-off over the mountains and along the 4,000-meter Shahvar Mountain become more visible, promising that they are getting closer to the dreamy cloud forest.
Stretching over 35,000 hectares and at a high altitude, the forest constitutes a part of the ancient Hyrcanian forests encompassing the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountain and covering the southern coastline of the Caspian Sea.
Having diverse vegetation ecology, the forest includes old woody plants such as beech, oak, alder, elm, cherry and checker trees, seemingly sometimes over the clouds as well as unique springs flowing in the middle. Of the fantastic trees encircling the forest, juniper stands above, a tree native to the region which is seen everywhere with indescribable beauty. Also, the forest includes steep hills which are dense in some places and scattered in others that are clearly seen in broad daylight.
Being overcast and foggy in most seasons, the spectacular cloud forest offers an amazing holiday destination especially in the summer due to having low temperature. Here, coolness and freshness are the truly pleasant senses for those who go to the area due to the proximity of the clouds to people’s face, often in the form dews on eyes and hair.
Surrounding the district, there are also Maran Castle, built by the Elamites on the mountain peak, and Shorshor Waterfall flowing at the bottom of a valley which has remained intact due to its inaccessibility, making the site more beautiful.
Taking a ride in the forest is just like realizing the dream of walking on clouds, watching beautiful scenes, taking marvelous photos, and getting completely relaxed with a lifetime experience.