OUR PLANET IS NUTS. No matter what crazy sci-fi movie sets or deep-space artist renditions your imagination has been exposed to, there’s more than likely an Earthly equivalent…along with hundreds more ‘other-worldly’ landscape features you’ve never even heard of or imagined.

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From household names like the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef to other sites that fly a little more under the radar, here are photos of 25 natural wonders that will inspire you to get out the door and explore your world.


Northern Lights, Canada

The sky glow that results from charged particles colliding with Earth's atmosphere can sometimes be seen as far south as St. Louis. For a surer thing, best to head north. This image is from Whitehorse, Yukon, Sept. 3, 2012.
Photo: Joel Henner


Coyote Buttes, USA

This sandstone feature, known as the Wave, is located within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness on the Arizona-Utah border. A BLM permit is required to visit.
Photo: Bureau of Land Management


Kilauea, USA

Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, sends streams of lava steaming into the Pacific Ocean.
Photo: U.S. Geological Survey


Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

Tucked in a corner at the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, the 275 falls of Iguazu dwarf Niagara.
Photo: juanedc


Alaska Range, USA

Home to the biggest peaks in North America and massive glaciers like the Tokositna, pictured here, the section of the Alaska Range around Denali looks unreal from the air.
Photo: Robb Hannawacker


Grand Canyon, USA

277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep, the canyon earns its name. This photographer got an early start on a chilly morning to capture this image.
Photo: screaming_monkey


Torres del Paine, Chile

The national park of this name in Chilean Patagonia contains some of the most epic peaks anywhere in South America. Great place for a multi-day trek.
Photo: Miguel Vieira


Athirappally Falls, India

Located in central Kerala, these 80ft falls are known as the "Niagara of India."
Photo: Mehul Antani


Uluru, Australia

The sandstone mass of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, rises 1,140ft above the plains of Australia's Northern Territory. It exemplifies the geological concept of the "inselberg"—"a prominent isolated residual knob or hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and relatively flat erosion lowlands in a hot, dry region." source
Photo: Scott Sporleder


Strokkur geyser, Iceland

In the land that gifted English the word "geyser," Strokkur is one of the most impressive. It's found an easy drive east of Reykjavik and erupts every five minutes or so.
Photo: Fred Mancosu


Death Valley, USA

A section of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the lowest, driest, hottest place in North America.
Photo: Hayden


Socotra Island, Yemen

Socotra's isolation in the Indian Ocean has given rise to plant life you won't see anywhere else. This is the dragon's blood tree.
Photo: HopeHill


Mt. Taranaki, New Zealand

Situated in the region of the same name, on the North Island's western coast, Taranaki is a 2518m volcanic cone that last erupted in the mid-19th century.
Photo: Dave Young


Li River, China

Guangxi's Li River is lined with sharp karst hills and frequently is crowded with tourist boats. Not this morning.
Photo: Dmitry Sumin


Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The world's largest reef system stretches along the coast of Queensland and is home to thousands of species, including six different varieties of sea turtles.
Photo: Marc Füeg


Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Bolivia's Salar, the largest salt flat in the world, lies in the southwestern departments of Potosi and Oruro. During the dry season, it looks like this; when it rains, the entire expanse is covered in an inches-deep pool that reflects the sky.
Photo: M M


Wadi Rum, Jordan

An ancient rivery valley, southern Jordan's Wadi Rum contains the country's highest mountains, including the 5,690ft Jebel Rum.
Photo: Andrew


Black Desert, Egypt

Millions of years ago, a field of small volcanoes erupted black dolerite. This is what the area, just off the highway southwest of Cairo, looks like today.
Photo: neiljs


Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

A grove of iconic baobab trees has been bisected by a road here between Morondava and Belon'i Tsiribihina in western Madagascar.
Photo: Frank Vassen


Preikestolen, Norway

"Pulpit's Rock" is a 2,000ft cliff jutting out above the waters of Lysefjorden in southern Norway.
Photo: Erwan Martin


Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Victoria forms the "largest sheet of falling water in the world." Its scope is so great that it helps to have a view from the air.
Photo: Pius Mahimbi


Simien Mountains, Ethiopia

This range of mountains in northern Ethiopia is protected by national park status and contains peaks well over 4,000m, as well as rare wildlife like the above gelada, a relative of the baboon.
Photo: M. Bos


Amazon River

By volume, the Amazon is far and away the largest river on Earth. With hundreds of huge tributaries (such as the Rio Negro above), its drainage basin accounts for 40% of South America's land area.
Photo: Zemlinki!


Giant's Causeway, Ireland

There are an estimated 40,000 basaltic columns contained within this formation on the northeastern Irish coast. Legend says the causeway was built to connect the island to Scotland and was destroyed by the giant Benandonner when he was driven out of Ireland.
Photo: Michael Nielsen


Copper Canyon, Mexico

When considered as a whole, the six distinct canyons that make up Mexico's Copper Canyon are larger in every dimension than the Grand Canyon. Plus, ziplining.
Photo: Marc Cappelletti