In today’s world, visiting another planet isn’t as far-fetched as it once was. With several remote explorations to Mars, men on the moon, and now civilian trips into space, it’s possible to truly experience other planets. But before we head off the face of the Earth, have you really experienced all the cool places here? Many of them will make you feel like you’ve landed on another planet. Let’s check out 10 incredible places right here in the U.S. that look otherworldly.
The U.S. Has Some Wild Landscapes
When we open our eyes to otherworldly places, often right in our backyards, we’ll come across beauty that seems surreal. Snow-capped peaks, red desert vistas, star-riddled skies, vast expanses of white sand, underworlds of ice caves, creviced shorelines, and more make for out of this world sights right in this country. Don’t know where to start? Here are 10 otherworldly places for you to visit right in the U.S.
10 Otherworldly Places in the U.S.
All across America, you’ll find places that seem unreal and otherworldly, places that seem like they should be from another planet. But their beauty is earthly. Let’s check them out.
1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Address: 22 S Lake Powell Blvd, Page, AZ 86040
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in the Navajo Nation just east of Page, Ariz. The Navajo names of “Tse bighanilini” and “Hazdistazi” translate to “the place where water runs through rocks” and “spiral rock arches,” respectively.
Water and sand produced erosion that formed the canyons over time. This created the flowing shapes that characterize this otherworldly site today. The light that reflects off the vibrant yellows and reds is another phenomenon that brings flocks of tourists here every year. But take note, you can only tour this unique place through licensed tour operators.
2. Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Address: 18630 Goblin Valley Rd, Green River, UT 84525
Named after the goblin-like rock formations that make up this unique landscape, Goblin Valley State Park may be the closest thing to feeling like you’re walking on Mars. You can explore this landscape via hiking, biking, driving, climbing, or off-roading. Whatever you choose, the geological wonders of the towering, twisted rock formations surround you wherever you venture.
The goblin-like rock formations are actually called hoodoos and were created over time due to weathering and water. As you explore this geological wonder, you’ll see nature’s hand everywhere you go. But the coolest thing to do here may be canyoneering. With many hikes heading down into crevices and caves, you might soon forget that you’re still on Earth.
3. Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
Address: 415 Washington Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814
Apostle Islands comprises 21 islands along the coastal regions of Lake Superior’s southwest corner. While the islands themselves hold a mysterious charm, the many sea caves throughout are the true draw here. Formed over centuries of freezing and thawing within the waves, unique caves, arch formations, vaulted chambers, and corridors bored through with natural jumbles of holes are prevalent throughout this national seashore.
Taking a boat tour here is like no other tour you’ve ever taken. Getting to the caves, you’ll be surrounded by high cliffs overlooking the sapphire waters of Lake Superior. Like the seasons, the lake changes, too. One moment you may be able to experience the caves up close, and the next, you’ll view the waters crashing into the recesses of these wonders from a distance. And in the winter, the scenery changes entirely, creating ice caves with sculpted ice art crafted by Mother Nature herself.
Pro Tip: Looking to add more places to your bucket list? Check out these 10 RV Destinations to Add to Your Bucket List.
4. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Address: 25216 Ben Reifel Rd, Interior, SD 57750
Created from millions of years of deposits and erosion, the geological wonders found in Badlands National Park are still constantly changing. In fact, they only have a lifespan of another million years, as they continue to erode an inch per year.
The 244,000 acres here are some of the world’s richest fossil beds. Deposits and erosion also resulted in the colorful layers we see today throughout the Badlands. The deep canyons, tight channels, and jagged mountain tops that draw us to this unique landscape are signs of erosion. The natural beauty that defines the Badlands may seem surreal, but the reality here is that nothing lasts forever.
5. Death Valley, California
Address: 328 Greenland Blvd, Death Valley, CA 92328 (Note that there is no specific address for the park, but many visitors use this address, which is for the nearby post office.)
The hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the nation, Death Valley is a land of extremes and contrasts. Although the hottest and driest, when the waters do pour in, they produce some of the most gorgeous wildflowers you’ll ever feast your eyes on. Although the lowest, you’ll still be surrounded by snow-capped peaks during the winter season.
The contrast and extremes make this place stark yet inviting. Situated in the Mojave Desert, it includes all of Death Valley, which is a trough that formed between two major fault lines. Active tectonics played, and still do play, a significant role in the development of the alluring obscurities that make up Death Valley. Places such as the Sand Dunes, the Salt Flats, and the mysterious Racetrack Playa all contribute to the wonders of this location.
6. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
Address: 1266 Craters Loop Rd, Arco, ID 83213
Once you pay a visit here, you’ll feel as though you’ve just stepped onto the moon. The shades of cool colors here offer a glimpse into our planet’s violent past. Although there’s a sense of serenity today when visiting Craters of the Moon, that was not the case millions of years ago, when volcanoes were constantly erupting. Rivers of lava flowed freely throughout this vast, stark landscape, taking everything with them.
Today, you can walk several paths through the remnants of these volcanoes. Lava rocks surround them in all shades of blacks, grays, and browns. These paths through time now lead you into dark caves of left-behind lava tubes, giving you a small glimpse into the violent underworld of our Earth.
7. Fly Ranch Geyser, Nevada
Address: Northern Nevada, about 20 miles north of Gerlach, Nev., via State Route 34
The human-made geysers at Fly Ranch began to form accidentally when residents here were seeking water and drilled a well in 1916. They abandoned the well when they realized how hot the water was. In 1964, a geothermal power company drilled another well for testing and created another geyser. The water continued to shoot through the hole, resulting in continual calcium carbonate deposits.
Today, those deposits have become three six-ft-tall colorful mounds rising out of the grass fields, spewing out naturally hot water four to five ft into the air. The thermophilic algae inside the mounds give them their striking colors.
Fly Ranch Geyser is located on Fly Ranch, which is on the edge of the Nevada Black Rock Desert. It’s on private property, which means you can’t just show up to view this strange phenomenon. However, you can contact Fly Ranch, which is in partnership with Friends of Nevada Black Rock High Rock, where you can schedule guided tours.
Pro Tip: Want to explore more otherworldly places? On your next adventure make sure to check out these 10 National Monuments Everyone Needs to Visit at Least Once.
8. Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Address: Mauna Kea Access Rd, Hilo, HI
What makes Mauna Kea a wonder is the glacial formations at the top. It’s the only Hawaiian volcano with this distinction. Because of its high altitude, snow has remained at the summit here, creating an ice cap even in the summer months. Although Mauna Kea has not erupted for 5,000 years, scientists believe it will erupt again in the future. However, it’s considered dormant at the moment.
9. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Address: Bryce Canyon National Park, UT-63, Bryce, UT 84764
Bryce Canyon in Utah has the largest concentration of hoodoos found anywhere on Earth. Hoodoos are spiraled, towering rock formations created from weathering. The hoodoos that take over this landscape seem to come from another planet entirely. No two hoodoos are exactly the same. That’s thanks to how the rocks are deposited on each other and continual erosion from water and climate.
Millions of people flock here annually to experience these wonders. Hiking and horseback riding trails offer miles of wandering into a spectacular landscape that is actually a place we can easily reach while seeming like it’s out of this world.
10. Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii
Address: Kilauea Visitor Center, National Park, 1 Crater Rim Drive, Volcano, HI 96785
Kilauea Volcano is located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. One of the five volcanoes that make up the Big Island, it’s also the youngest and still quite active today. When visiting here, you’ll most definitely feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet, especially when viewing the hot red and yellow lava flowing freely into the ocean or glowing in the distance.
Kilauea is a shield volcano and has been erupting without interruption since 1983. The lava flows act as a natural architect, constantly changing the island’s coastline. Visitors come to experience the intense steam, the lava flows, the red glows at night, and the views of the naturally made lava lake. While you can’t get too close, there are many viewpoints from which to experience this otherworldly phenomenon.
Don’t Miss These Geological Wonders
We might look up at the stars seeking wonders we’ve never seen, but there are plenty right here on Earth, too. You don’t even need to leave the country to encounter sights that boggle the mind and seem utterly impossible. Check out these fantastic sights and let us know about others you’ve encountered on your journeys. Have you been to any of these otherworldly places?