Travel Destinations

The World’s Most Interesting Rock Formations

One thing we can never ignore is the beauty of the natural world around us as well, and one of the most amazing things to see is the world’s natural rock formations. Nature has a way of making all our achievements pale in comparison to its unstoppable, unrelenting forces. One of those amazing creations of nature are the world’s geological formations that sometimes look as if they defy the very laws that bound them.

Unique and beautiful rocks capture the imagination and minds of those who view them. If you are drawn to unique and amazing geological formations, like I am, here are some places you may want to consider visiting.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock), Australia

Ayers Rock, Australia

Ayers Rock is also known as Uluru. This rock formation has a deep, sacred significance to the local tribes and Australians in general. It is located in the Northern Territory, towering over the local landscape with its massive sandstone walls at nearly a thousand feet.

To walk around the entire base of Ayers Rock is quite a trip – nine kilometers, or five and a half miles. For those not quite so interested in a long hike, don’t fret! The best places to photograph Ayer’s Rock are from further away, anyway. The beautiful façade of Uluru changes color each sunrise and sunset, and visible for many miles around. You can also take a Segway tour to avoid the long hike, while still getting to see the entire area. Another option would be to do aerial photography from aboard a helicopter. Try this highly-rated helicopter tour of Uluru.

There are certain sensitive areas near Ayers Rock, of special cultural importance, that are not allowed to be photographed. See this guide for more details. Please make sure you follow all protocols and respect local traditions and cultures.

Árbol de Piedra (“Stone Tree”), Bolivia

Arbol de Piedra, Bolivia

The Árbol de Piedra (English translation: Stone Tree) is a rock formation in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve in Bolivia. The photo above doesn’t give you an idea of just how tall it is! The height is about 23 feet, or 7 meters. The stone tree is really stunning not just for its shape, but also its size.

This beautiful natural creation has a unique shape due to erosion of the local volcanic rock. The composition of the base is mostly quartz, while the top is iron. Quartz is more susceptible to erosion, so winds have worn the base thin in a haunting, beautiful manner. There are other rock formations nearby, and you can even climb on many of them. But the stone tree has been declared a national monument, and climbing is forbidden. Which is great, because that will help it last longer. Eventually, though, the remaining rock will break away like the pieces that are already on the ground beside the monolith.

Surrounding the stone tree is the Siloli Desert, and nearby are the Salar de Uyuni salt flat. Salar de Uyuni is all the remains of a great, prehistoric lake. On a side note, Salar de Uyuni is also a great place to see three different species of flamingos!

Click here for tours to Uyuni.

Khao Ta-Pu, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Khao Ta-Pu, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Khao Ta Pu is an island that is probably a lot more well known that the Stone Tree. This rock formation is famous due to many factors, one among them being a major key to its fame: it was featured in the 1974 James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Its name means “Nail Island”.

Khao Ta Pu is a tall limestone rock with a narrow bottom and a wider top, which looks almost impossible with its strange geometry. Tourists often frequent the place to look at this strange and beautiful rock sitting in the ocean. You will find it in the Ao Phang Nga National Park. Nearby is Khao Phing Kan, which consists of two more islands, but without the unique shape that makes Khao Ta Pu stand out.

These limestone karst formations are subject to erosion. Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is exploring ways to protect the island from damage by erosion.

Try this snorkeling tour of the Phi Phi islands to avoid the crowds.

Kannesteinen Vågsøy (“Kannesteinen Rock”), Norway

Credit C. Hill, licensed under Creative Commons

This large and unusual metamorphic rock is located in the waters near the village of Oppedal in Vågsøy. It is 3 meters high, looks like a giant rock mushroom, and overlooks the Norwegian sea.

The forces of the sea and corrosion have made such a strange and beautiful shape possible. People do climb on this rock formation, at least at low tide, even though it’s protected by law. You will find Kannesteinen Rock in Oppedal, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the town of Måløy, on the island of Vågsøy. Vågsøy is located off the western coast of Norway

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway, Ireland

A wonderful UNESCO Heritage Site, situated in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is something to be seen for sure. This truly unforgettable sight is the result of local volcanic eruptions and their effects on the land of Northern Ireland. The basalt columns that make up this rock formation interlock with each other in an almost perfect hexagonal form, making them seem like something out of a sci-fi flick. A truly impressive feat of nature, they act as a major draw for tourism in the area.

For an amazing full-day tour, click here. In additional to the Giant’s Causeway, you’ll also see the Dark Hedges, Dunluce Castle, and other Belfast locations. The tour departs from and returns to Dublin. It’s extremely highly rated, and despite the long drive, participants say that it’s entertaining and informative.

12 Apostles, Australia

12 Apostles rock formation in Australia

The 12 Apostles rock formation is one of the most famous sites along the Great Ocean Road along the southeast coast of Australia. They are a series of striated limestone rocks jutting out from the ocean. The name a bit of a misnomer, as the original set of rocks only included 8 “apostles”, not 12, but the moniker stuck and it’s now the official name.

They are also known as the Pinnacles, or the Sow and Piglets. Nearby Muttonbird Island, and is an important nesting location for muttonbirds (also called short-tailed shearwaters) as well as fairy penguins.

Today there are 7 standing rocks, since one of them collapsed in 2005. They are located in the Port Campbell National Park, and are a 4.5 hour drive away from Melbourne.

Try this Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles Day Trip from Melbourne tour.

Conclusion: Rock Formations

These are just a few of the unique rock formations around our world. If you’re interested in natural features for your landscape travel photography, consider these places for your next travel destination. Are there others that you love? Share your favorite rock formations in the comments below.

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  • Reply
    Ummi | Ummi Goes Where?
    June 7, 2021 at 10:01 am

    I fancy myself a well-traveled person, but I’ve never seen any of these rock formations in real life. Ahh.. i need to up my game! They look so majestic.

  • Reply
    Rudy @ Backpack & Snorkel
    June 7, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    I have only been at Uluru and not seen the others on your list. Giant’s Causeway and Arbol de Piedra are on my list for the next few years.
    I would probably add Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly. For the natives and also for me this rock is just magical.

    • Reply
      Susan Petracco
      June 8, 2021 at 10:48 am

      Thanks for the heads up about Spider Rock! I’m not familiar with that one.

  • Reply
    Josy A
    June 8, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    I LOVE these kinds of rock formations! I have seen something similar to Giants causeway here in Canada (I love finding those) but it is the rocks like Kannesteinen Vågsøy and Arbol de Piedra that blow me away! I guess one day they will erode so much the topple, but I love seeing them before that happens. 🙂

    I have a feeling you would really like seeing hoodoos too. We saw some in Banff, and near Kootenay National Park, but I have heard they are even more impressive in the Badlands in the USA…

    • Reply
      Susan Petracco
      June 13, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      I really do want to see hoodoos! I wasn’t familiar with them until about a year ago when I was reading a book called “Take Me With You”. The characters visit a number of national parks, and the author did a wonderful job of describing the Badlands’ hoodoos. I googled and now I know I have to get out there to see them. (I have a long history of hopping a plane to California and skipped a lot of good stuff along the way!)

  • Reply
    An Indian Traveler
    June 9, 2021 at 3:20 am

    What cool looking rock formations. Arbol de Piedra from Bolivia is so beautiful. Would love to visit Bolivia and complete my incomplete South American trip.

  • Reply
    Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions
    June 11, 2021 at 1:13 am

    I really want to see Uluru. I’m actually surprised to learn that the hike around it is only 5.5 miles, I would’ve expected it to be much longer. Arbol de Piedra is also a really cool one that I’ve never seen before. Another one to look up are the basalt columns in the Penghu Islands, Taiwan. It is very similar to the Giant’s Causeway!

    • Reply
      Susan Petracco
      June 11, 2021 at 7:51 am

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll take a look at that and maybe add it in.

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