The United States has the pleasure of being home to numerous picturesque natural formations created by weathering and erosion. These unusual rocks have become historic landmarks and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. We have a list of some of our favorite ones, bound to take your breath away.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
By far the most photographed in the Navajo Indian Reservation, this slot canyon is open for visitors from April to October. It closes to the public after that due to the cause of its formation, flash floods which continue to occur during monsoon season. The best views are found during the mid-day hours when the sun hits the jagged edges and smooth surface of the rock just right, illuminating the canyon in shades of red, orange, and yellow. This canyon is divided into two sections, the upper and lower antelope canyons. The majority of tourists are drawn to the upper canyon because of its simpler structure and easy accessibility. However, if you enjoy a challenge, the lower canyon requires some extensive climbing deep into the crevasses of the canyon for even more stunning views.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Unknown by many, the Grand Canyon is made up of several different canyons spread out across the vast desert. One of them, Horseshoe Bend, is located only five miles from the Grand Canyon National Park and is one of the Southwest’s “small wonders.” It has become a must-see experience when visiting the Grand Canyon. According to GrandCanyon.com, the Scenic Canyon River Adventure tour is the most popular. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, this tour flies visitors over Horseshoe Bend every morning as well as taking them on a four wheel tour of Antelope Canyon.
Delicate Arch, Utah
Home to Arches National Park in Moab Utah, Delicate Arch is undeniably the most enduring symbols of the American West. To capture a glimpse of the 65 foot arch, there are two options. One being a short trail to a small viewpoint, and the other being a moderate hike to see the arch up close and personal. The second trail takes between two and three hours and is a total of three miles with some stretches exposed to heights. However, don’t get discouraged from such an incredible experience, the serene view is more than worth it! If you choose this route, you’ll be hiking strictly on slickrock for the majority of the hike with no shade, so remember to bring a liter of water per person on your journey. Arrive during the late afternoon and you’ll be sure to have a picture perfect sight.
Devil’s Postpile, California
Located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the 60 foot Monument is a geologic rarity. Devil’s Postpile was established approximately 100,000 years ago when lava came flowing down the side of the mountain range, gathering at an obstruction and slowly cooling. The slow cooling process caused the lava to contract and crack, hence the formation of the unusually symmetric hexagonal columns. 20,000 years later, a glacier glided through the same mountain range eventually revealing the sides and tops of the columns. Glacial polish can still be seen on the basalt columns today. The Monument is only available to visit during the summer months due to heavy snowfall in the winter. The National Park Service provides more information on the available activities the monument has to offer.
Spider Rock, Arizona
Spider Rock lies within Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It stands 830 feet above the canyon floor isolated from the rim of the canyon. The canyon is currently inhabited by the Navajo Tribe; however, they allow visitors to explore the Rim Drive of the canyon as well as take guided tours into the canyon itself. The tours are either done by foot or by jeep. This rock is sacred for the Navajo people and based on the story about Spider Woman. She descended to the top of Spider Rock, spun her web and lived in the crack between the two rocks. Legend has it that she was the one that taught her people the fine art of weaving.
Natural Bridge, Virginia
It is said that Natural Bridge is one of the oldest tourist destinations in the United States. When a cavern collapsed, the other side of the mountain was exposed and the bridge was formed. There are still caverns open for tours which descend more than 34 stories into the Earth’s core. What’s truly unique about this site is its ability to transform into two different perspectives. You can see the bridge during the day in its natural element, or wait for dusk and revel in the Drama of Creation. Inaugurated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, this pristine light show is accompanied by a narration and classical music that bring the rock to life.