website header.JPG








Earth Science Travel-List!    


Places everyone should visit!

Count up how many you've been to for an estimate of the fraction of the world's Earth Science wonders you've experienced!


There are so many wonderful, unexpected, and magical places of geological wonder that making a comprehensive or objective "best of the best" list is not possible (for example, there are 193 World Heritage Natural Sites but many other wonderful places are not included in that list).  Please consider the list here to be a random sampling of a much larger list.  It can test what proportion of the wonders of Earth that you have already experienced.  (OK, so it's not a completely random list, being biased toward North America--sorry, that's where I live.  Oops, another bias is toward "lost-world" and "fantasy" landscapes.--Dr. C). 

Erosional Topography

ˇ         The Grand Canyon, Arizona--the most famous canyon in the world

ˇ         Canaima National Park, Venezuela, This is the location of Tepuy Roraima, a classic "lost-world" sort of place, and Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world which captured my imagination as a teenager but which I've never managed to see--Dr. C.

ˇ         Colca Canyon Peru.  Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon of Arizona (depending on how you measure it).

ˇ         Preikestolen, the Pulpit Rock of Norway--Glaciated terrain and fjord

ˇ         The Matterhorn, Swiss/Italian border (glacier-sculpted terrain)

ˇ         Glacial headwaters and gorge of the Bhagirathi River, India

ˇ         The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkey--with added historical interest and volcanic origin!

ˇ         Bryce Canyon, Utah--a magical land of vertical walls and narrow canyons, a non-karst stone forest.

ˇ         The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, incised meanders, heritage of a changing base-level and river rejuvenation


Solution Topography

ˇ         Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park Palawan Phillippines--boat 8 km down an underground river, like in "Land of the Lost!"

ˇ         Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico--some of the largest readily-accessibly rooms and biggest stalagmites in the world

ˇ         Crystal Caves of Giants, Mexico--giant crystals that make movie special effects seem tame.

ˇ         The Li River, Guilin China - towering Karst remnants that create a fantasyland landscape

ˇ         The Stone Forest, (Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve) Madagascar--a natural stone  labyrinth in a karst terrain (there is another stone forest [Shilin] in China)

ˇ         Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia--Unique Karst topography where dissolution of chalk combined with recrystallization of travertine causes an ever-changing system of lakes and cataracts.

ˇ         The Blue Hole, Belize--a submerged karst terrain


Violent Landscapes

ˇ         Thrihnukagigur Volcano, Iceland --explore the inside of a drained volcano

ˇ         Meteor (Barringer) Crater, Arizona - to see  a geologically recent impact crater

ˇ         Mount Fuji, Japan--Classic convergent boundary strato volcano

ˇ         Mount Kilamanjaro, Tanzania--classic continental rift alkali-rich volcano.

ˇ         Kilauea, Hawaii--classic hot spot shield volcano, and one of the most active volcanoes in the world

ˇ         The San Andreas Fault Zone, California, classic transform boundary.

ˇ         Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland - columnar jointing in basalt.

ˇ         The Eye of the Sahara, Mauritania--an amazing circular feature believed to be an eroded structural dome

ˇ         Sudbury impact site Canada--roots of an ancient immense meteorite impact, also location for Robert Sawyer's Neanderthal Parallax books


Geology in Action

ˇ         Ice Towers of Mt Erebus, Antarctica. Ice and volcanoes, how can you go wrong?

ˇ         Iguazu Falls Brazil- Argentina border, magical falls suitable for adventure stories!

ˇ         The Top of Europe--Junfraujoch, Switzerland- explore inside a glacier

ˇ         Yellowstone National Park--Largest concentration of geysers in the world, a magical fairyland

ˇ         The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada - Spectacular tidal sea-level rise.

ˇ         The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia - Worlds largest Coral Reef.

ˇ         Mingsha Singing Sand Dunes, China

ˇ         Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia--the world's largest salt flat and natural mirror.


Classic Sites

ˇ         Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland - where James Hutton observed a now-classic unconformity and inferred the existence of Deep Time.

ˇ         Galapagos Islands (site of Charles Darwin's studies)

ˇ         Ayres Rock (Ulura) Australia--mystical rock and classic monadnock

ˇ         The Great Rift Valley, Kenya, Africa - Classic continental rift and  classic in human history

ˇ         Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii, Italy--Unusual plate tectonic setting, explosive volcanism, human drama, and archaeology

ˇ         The Channeled Scablands, eastern Washington - the classic site for new catastrophism--an unimaginable flood rushed across the landscape.

ˇ         Monument Valley, Utah and Arizona. OK, so this is more of a movie classic--try to spot John Wayne.

ˇ         Yoho National Park, Canada--Ancient life, the Cambrian explosion, and the Burgess Shale

ˇ         Mt. Everest in the Himalayas, highest point on Earth in the greatest mountain range on Earth, continent-continent convergence

ˇ         Lake Baikal, Siberia, continental rift zone, deepest lake, much of Earth's fresh water

ˇ         Flaming Cliffs of Mongolia--where Roy Chapman Andrews took the expedition that inspired a thousand geology careers (including Dr. C's).

ˇ         Machu Picchu, Peru--OK, more anthropological than geological, but no life travel list can be complete without it

ˇ         The Dead Sea, Jordan and Israel, lowest point on Earth, past volcanism, plate tectonic boundary, salt deposits, history and archaeology galore.



So, what's your score so far?  If you got "one", that represents 2% of Earth's amazing geological places!  That's pretty good!  Five?  That's an amazing 11%!  All 45?  Unless your name is Methuselah and King Midas, I think you must be cheating, particularly since not all of these places are even accessible to the general public!


ˇ         I've been to 8 of the 45 listed. I've ridden through a 9th but wasn't able to stop the train to explore (!?).   Maybe I can make it to at least 1 or 2 more.  Maybe even 3!!----Dr. C


ˇ         I've only been to 2 of the 45 and I'm a geologist!  I need to get crackin'!----Mary



Back To: Earth Science Issues--Challenges

Back To: Earth Science Issues: Home


Copyright 2014 Earth Science Issues.   All rights reserved.