While many people travel to visit favorite haunts or possibly learn something about history or art, a few travel for the express purpose of seeing something that will blow their minds. Such travelers often visit places like the ones listed below.
1. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the United States and possibly the world. It is famous for both its wildlife and geology – including its 300 geysers. Its best-known attraction is arguably the geyser Old Faithful, which is said to be the most predictable geological feature on Earth. It erupts approximately every 90 minutes, sending 30,000 liters of water as high as 185 feet.
Yellowstone National Park also boasts hot springs and canyons. Yellowstone Lake is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world and the biggest mountain lake in the US. Wildlife living in the park include antelope, bison, elk, and wolves.
2. Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole of Belize is a “vertical cave” or underwater sinkhole that developed in a coral reef. At 125 meters (410 feet) deep and 300 meters (984 feet) wide, it is the biggest natural formation of its type in the world. It is also part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which is the second-largest reef system in the world. The Great Blue Hole is home to around 150 species of coral. Fish in the area include grouper, Caribbean reef sharks, parrotfish, nurse sharks, butterflyfish, and parrotfish.
3. Catatumbo River
The Catatumbo River empties into Lake Maracaibo, and the area is known as the “most electric place” on Earth because of its many lightning strikes. During a typical year, there will be 260 storm days with thousands of lightning strikes for nine hours out of every night. The resulting fireworks are sometimes called Catatumbo lightning, the everlasting storm, or the Beacon of Maracaibo. There are relatively few storms during the dry months of January and February, but October, the peak of the storm season, sees an average of 28 flashes of lightning per minute.
4. Lake Hillier
Lake Hillier is located on Middle Island, which is off the coast of Western Australia, and owes its fame to its color: It is bright pink like bubblegum. The lake is 600 meters (1968 feet) long and sits in a eucalyptus tree forest. The English explorer Matthew Flinders discovered the lake in 1802 – but scientists still aren’t sure why the lake’s water is pink. They speculate that bacteria might be responsible.
5. Waitomo Caves
The Waitomo Caves are located near a rural community of the same name on New Zealand’s North Island. They are famous for their glowworms, which produce a dazzling blue light like something out of the movie Avatar. The glowworms belong to the species Arachnocampa luminosa, which is endemic to New Zealand. The caves are a popular attraction, so visitors can enjoy guided tours and boat rides.
6. Darvaza Crater
Also known as the “Door to Hell” or the “Gates of Hell,” the Darvaza Crater is located near the village Darvaza in Turkmenistan. Back in 1971, Soviet geologists were prospecting for oil when they struck a large cavern filled with natural gas. Fearing the gas would harm people and animals, they set it on fire. The geologists assumed the fire to burn out after a few days. Nearly 50 years later, it is still burning, and people now suspect that it could be decades before it stops.
7. Lake Abraham
Located in Alberta, Canada, Lake Abraham is famous for its “ice bubbles.” Lake Abraham is an artificial lake created in the 1970s during the construction of the Bighorn Dam. It still has the clear blue waters of other glacial lakes in the area.
The ice bubbles are produced by decomposing organic matter at the lake’s bottom that generates explosive methane gas. During winter, the rising gas freezes and forms ice bubbles.
8. Socotra Island
Socotra Island is part of an archipelago in the Arabian Sea, and it has been a territory of Yemen since 1967. It is extremely isolated and many of the plants there can’t be found anywhere else. It has sometimes been described as the “most alien-looking place on Earth,” because of the bizarre appearance of some of the plants. The dragon’s blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari) is probably the best-known of Socotra’s plant life; it looks like a giant umbrella with roots in place of branches.