Mother Nature can take credit for creating these rock formations. Make sure you pack your camera!
Balanced Rock—Garden Of The Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado
We know what you’re thinking: How is this possible? Well, this 700-tonne red sandstone rock has been putting on this balancing act for two to three million years, but its history goes far beyond that. It started to form over 290 million years ago as Fountain Formation sandstone was deposited along the Ancestral Rockies (a different set of Rocky Mountains that once existed there). Thomas Grose, geology professor emeritus at the Colorado School of Mines, explains that Balanced Rock “was sculpted over the following millennia by glaciers, rivers, wind, and rain.” Since then, erosion has continued to occur, leaving visitors and geologists wondering when the beloved rock will eventually tumble.
Reed Flute Cave—Guilin, Guangxi, China
Reed Flute Cave, named after all of the reeds growing in the entryway, has quite the extensive history, notes Atlas Obscura. From its interior serving as a canvas for ink writings dating back to 792 AD to being a hideout for refugees during World War II, this cave has quite the story to tell. Perhaps the most astonishing qualities of Reed Flute Cave are its gorgeous rock formations stretching from the floor to the ceiling. Formed by centuries’ worth of water erosion carving into the soft limestone, the cave’s stalactites, stalagmites, and tall columns are now illuminated by a neon light show for all of its visitors to enjoy.
Hoodoos—Goreme National Park, Turkey
Göreme National Park in Cappadocia, Turkey, is home to hundreds of hoodoos. The hoodoos, which are sometimes called “fairy chimneys,” were formed millions of years ago by a volcanic eruption that rained ash across the area. Soon after, the ash hardened and transformed into tuff, a porous rock, which was then covered by a layer of basalt. Over time, the soft tuff eroded while the harder tuff took (and is still taking) its time—hence the mushroom-shaped caps on top of each pillar. Fun fact: There are also tons of ancient underground settlements to explore at the park.
Svartifoss—Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
You get to see more than just a gorgeous 39-foot-tall waterfall when you visit Svartifoss in Iceland; its backdrop makes it look even more magical. As centuries passed and lava flows cooled, black hexagonal crystals began to form behind the waterfall. The only downside? You can’t go for a swim in the waters beneath the falls. They’re filled with dangerously sharp rocks.
The Wave—Kanab, Utah
We can thank Jurassic period wind patterns for the Wave’s gorgeous aesthetic in the northern section of Coyote Buttes. This sandstone rock formation is made of sand dunes that have been blown in different directions. Ultimately, all that sand cemented, leaving linear marks.The water drainage that carved the two main chutes dried up a long time ago, so now wind is the Wave’s primary erosional force.”