25 of the Most Colorful Places on Earth
Mother Nature has outdone herself.
Grand Prismatic Spring - Yellowstone National Park
While not as renowned as Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park's Grand Prismatic Spring is a must-see. It’s the largest hot spring in the U.S. and the third largest in the world. Moreover, the hot spring's rainbow rings have led it to become Yellowstone's most photographed thermal feature. These colorful bands get their hues from different species of heat-loving bacteria that live in the spring.
Panjin Red Beach - China
Panjin Red Beach is situated in the biggest wetland and reed marsh in the world. The eponymous beach gets its color from a type of sea weed that flourishes in the highly alkaline soil. The seaweed starts growing each year in April or May and develops into a deep red color in autumn.
Cranberry Bog - Wisconsin
Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries in the U.S., comprising over half the country's total production. Each year from late September to late October, you can drive along the state's “Cranberry Highway,” a 50-mile stretch of century-old cranberry bogs. Notable stops include Wisconsin Rapids, Nekoosa, Cranmoor, Warrens, Pittsville and Tomah.
Cano Cristales River - Colombia
This vibrant red river in central Colombia is sometimes referred to as the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow” due to its yellow sand, green algae, black rocks and blue water. The red color is caused by a unique water plant called Macarenia clavigera and can appear purple at times, depending on the water and sunlight levels. The river is most vibrant from June to December.
Rainbow Mountains - Zhangye Danxia, China
The Zhangye Danxia National Park is in China’s northwestern Gansu province covers 200 square miles and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009. The mountains get their Technicolor range from an array of differently colored sandstone and minerals. Visit anytime from June to September when the weather is temperate -- a combination of strong sunshine and little rain makes the colors pop.
Daigo-Ji Temple - Kyoto, Japan
Daigo-Ji is a designated world heritage site and considered a national treasure of Japan. The Shingon Buddhist temple is situated southeast of Kyoto at the base of a mountain. Though beautiful any time of year, the temple's red exterior looks best when juxtaposed with the area's striking fall foliage.
Central Park - New York
Featured in countless movie and television cameos, the beauty of Central Park is best enjoyed in person. The iconic New York park spans 843 acres between Manhattan's Upper West Side and Upper East Side -- 6% of Manhattan's total acreage. The park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
Havasupai Falls - Grand Canyon
Located in the Arizona region of the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Falls’ stunning turquoise waters against the orange-red rocks of the Grand Canyon make it a popular destination for hikers and photographers alike. The waterfall is named for the Havasupai people, who are native to the Grand Canyon area.
Lake Hillier - Australia
This is one lake that shouldn’t appear blue on a map. Lake Hillier is located on Middle Island in Western Australia, and one of the best ways to see the natural phenomenon is by helicopter. You can also take a cruise to Middle Island to view the spectacle up close. The lake's Pepto Bismol shade comes from a combination of high salinity, an algae species called Dunaliella salina and a pink bacteria called halobacteria.
Cherry Blossoms - Washington, D.C.
Approximately 3,750 cherry blossom trees line D.C.’s Tidal Basin. The trees were initially sent to the U.S. as a gift from Japan in 1912 and have become a quintessential feature of a spring visit to the nation’s capital. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the district’s more heavily attended annual events. This year, the three-week-long festival will take place March 20 to April 15.
Lavender Fields - Provence, France
The lavender fields of Provence smell as good as they look. The fragrant purple fields bloom from the last week in June to the beginning of August, and the lavender flowers are used primarily for cosmetic and culinary purposes. If you visit the Lavender Museum in Coustellet, you will find many soaps and oils, as well as honey and tea products.
Kawachi Fuji Garden - Japan
This private garden is south of Kitakyushu is open to the public seasonally during the wisteria season in mid-April to mid-May and the maple leaf season in autumn. One of the garden’s main attractions includes its tunnel of wisteria flowers. The garden houses 20 different species of the wisteria flowering plant: white, blue, purple, violet-blue and pink.
Tunnel of Love - Klevan, Ukraine
This once-unassuming tunnel came about when trees surrounding a strip of industrial railway were allowed to grow freely. The passing train that traveled back and forth through the passageway three times a day was the only thing shaping the growth of the trees, and eventually a natural tunnel formed. Today, the tunnel attracts photographers, tourists, lovers and more who wish to see the fairytale-like tunnel for themselves.
Rice Terraces - Yuanyang, China
The Hani people carved the Yuanyang Rice Terraces into the slope of the Ailao Mountain approximately 2,500 years ago. The unique technology of developing fertile land on mountainous terrain not only helped the Hani people cultivate rice as an industry but also shaped the mountain into a magnificent piece of art that still stands today and is acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site.
Quaking Aspen – Colorado
These vibrant yellow-leaf trees are Colorado’s only widespread, native, deciduous tree and cover 5 million acres (about 20%) of the state’s forested land. They are particularly abundant in the western region of the state and can be found from 6,500 to 11,500 feet in elevation.
Canola Flower Fields - Victoria, Australia
These bright flowers look best from mid-September to mid-October, or Australia’s spring. While beautiful to look at, the flowers serve as one of Australia’s major crops -- their seeds are used to create canola oil.
Kliluk Spotted Lake - British Columbia, Canada
This extraterrestrial-looking lake is located between the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys of British Columbia. The lake's “spots” are simply pools of water that remain when the rest of the lake starts to evaporate in the summer. The spots get their color from the high concentration of minerals -- calcium, sodium sulphates and magnesium sulphate -- that have collected in the water.
Five Flower Lake - Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
This pristine lake can be found in China's Jiuzhaigou National Park in the Sichuan province. The water contains several shades of blue, dark blue, green, yellow and red, which are caused by minerals, namely calcium carbonate, and aquatic plants. The ancient algae-covered tree trunks that line the crystal-clear floor of the lake contribute to the lake's bright array of colors. Five Flower Lake is often considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
Northern Lights - Norway
Seeing the Northern Lights is an item on many bucket lists, and one of the best places to see this natural wonder is in the auroral oval in Northern Norway. The best time to see the lights is between late September and late March, when it is dark from early afternoon until late morning.
Lake Baikal - Siberia, Russia
Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, holding over one-fifth of the world's unfrozen fresh water -- that's more water than the Great Lakes combined. In addition to this impressive stat, the lake is also the world's deepest lake and considered to be the world's oldest lake, dating back 25 to 30 million years.
White Sands - New Mexico
New Mexico's gypsum white sands comprise 275 square miles of desert, the largest gypsum dune field in the world. A major portion of the dune field (approximately 40%) is preserved by White Sands National Monument, open to the public every day of the year except Christmas. Be sure to check the operating hours before you go, as they change periodically.
Mendenhall Ice Caves - Juneau, Alaska
These caves are found inside the Mendenhall Glacier, a 12-mile-long glacier in the Mendenhall Valley. A popular tourist destination, the caves are only accessible to those willing to hike or kayak to the glacier.
Bluebonnet Fields - Texas
As the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet is a common sight along roadsides and uncultivated fields throughout the state during springtime. It is not unusual to see groups of cars parked alongside the road as people walk into the fields to snap a photo.
Salar de Uyani - Bolivia
Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat, spanning more than 4,050 square miles of the Altiplano. It consists of a thick crust of salt that remains after the prehistoric Lake Minchin evaporated long ago. During the rainy season (December to April), nearby lakes overflow, and a thin layer of water transforms the salt flat into a giant reflective surface.
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
These world-renowned caves get their glow from a species of glowworm called Arachnocampa luminosa, which is unique to New Zealand. One of the best ways to see the caves is by boat tour: A guide recounts the history and geological significance of the caves while you marvel at the glowing creatures.