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Where to Find the Most Colorful Natural Wonders Around the World

The world’s most beautiful natural canvases are often a result of the perfect combination of location, temperature, and a mystery ingredient.


By  Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure

Travel makes life more colorful.

Whether you’re sampling new dishes or picking up crafts at an artisan market, venturing into the wild unknown brings new sights and new colors to your life. But no matter how colorful these human endeavors may be, they are no match for the artistic hand of Mother Nature.

The world’s most beautiful natural canvases are often a result of the perfect combination of location, temperature and some mysterious ingredient. Unusual salt deposits can make you see a lake through rose-colored glasses; perfectly planted flowers can transform a field into a vivacious work of art; algae can turn a hot spring into a rainbow pool.

From the mystical Rainbow Mountains in Peru and China to endless stretches of White Sands in New Mexico, these are some of the most spectacular natural wonders around the world to travel in full color.

Don’t forget your camera.


Marble Cave, Chile

Michelangelo may be considered the master of marble, but he is no match for Mother Nature. For more than 6,000 years, waves have been eroding calcium carbonate in the Patagonian Andes. Visitors who venture into the caves now can marvel at the gentle curves of the marble cuts and the aquamarine, cream, and ice blue.


White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

New Mexico’s 275 square miles of white sand is a stunning place to visit to be surrounded by white. The white color is gypsum crystals and the desert is considered to be the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.


Blue Grotto, Italy

If you’re in Capri, board a rowboat to explore this glowing blue grotto. In order to enter the cave, oarsmen must wait until it’s low tide and then navigate their boats through a four-foot opening. Once inside, visitors can marvel at the sapphire light. Any objects that are dipped in the water will appear silver because of tiny bubbles that appear on their surface.


Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Not only is Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone’s largest hot spring, it is the most photographed. For good reason. The rainbow thermal spring is a pool of vibrant colors. The outer orange, yellow and green rings are each caused by a different species of microbes and bacteria that flourish at different temperatures. However, at the deep blue center of the hot spring, the water is so hot (almost 190°F), it’s completely sterile.


Spiaggia Rosa, Italy

Just when you think Sardinia could not get any more magical, you discover a pink beach. The flamingo-hued Mediterranean sand is made from a combination of crushed fossils, crystal and coral. If you visit the beach, resist the urge to collect the sand. The beach used to be much more vibrant, but after decades of tourists collecting sand, the tint has lightened into a blush color.


Antelope Canyon, Arizona

The color in Antelope Canyon is perhaps one of the most otherworldly natural wonders in the United States. Depending on the time of year you visit, the canyon can glow a fiery orange or a regal purple. Photographers particularly love the canyon from the end of March until early October when light beams through the tops of the canyon to create shining highlights.


Rainbow Mountain, Peru

It’s possible to hike somewhere over the rainbow in Peru. The multicolored mountain was “discovered” only within the last few years. But now, about 1,000 tourists per day flock to see the otherworldly bands of turquoise, lavender and gold. Local elders say the mountain emerged within the past few years after the snow that covered it melted away (which some link to global warming).


Fly Geyser, Nevada

Some of the world’s most beautiful sights were created by accident. In 1964, a geothermal company drilled a test well. But something went wrong and the well remained open after the company was done. Hot water began to shoot out and calcium carbonate began to accumulate. The deposits kept growing larger and larger and the water kept shooting higher and higher. Today, the geyser is about five feet high and 12 feet wide, and continuing to grow. The fantastic color is caused by thermophilic algae, which flourishes green and red in hot, wet environments. While initially not a natural wonder, only nature could create this out of an accidental well.


Zhangye National Geopark, China

This park is sometimes referred to as “China’s Rainbow Mountains.” Technicolor stripes of sandstone and siltstone sweep across the rocky range, drawing thousands of tourists each year. The colorful mountains are the result of 24 million years of compression and tectonic collision.


Sahara Desert, Morocco

Vibrant orange sands blow across the desert in one of the most romantic and photogenic places on earth. For an even more colorful desert experience, plan a trip that includes an overnight stay in a Berber community. Vivid clothing, rugs and tents look even more dynamic against a backdrop of sand and sky.


Lake Natron, Tanzania

Not all that’s colorful is full of life. The phantasmagorical Lake Natron is a deceivingly inhospitable environment. The bright pink or red crust is caused by deposits of sodium carbonate and other minerals. The lake is too salty and too hot for most animals to survive there.


Lake Hillier, Australia

Look at life through rose-colored glasses and travel to look at rose-colored lakes. Located in Western Australia, Lake Hillier has become a tourist attraction for its marvelous bubblegum color. The lake is best experienced with a flyover helicopter tour to see the pink lake juxtaposed with the surrounding green forest and blue Pacific Ocean.


Danakil depression, Ethiopia

One of the hottest places on the planet is also one of the most shockingly colorful. The Danakil Depression hot springs look like something not from this universe. Jolts of chartreuse line the blue pools throughout the rust-colored land. Sulfur springs, volcanoes, geysers, salt plains and mineral lakes add unique features to the rest of the land
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Travel Magazine: Where to Find the Most Colorful Natural Wonders Around the World
Where to Find the Most Colorful Natural Wonders Around the World
The world’s most beautiful natural canvases are often a result of the perfect combination of location, temperature, and a mystery ingredient.
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