2. Hamilton Pool, near Austin, Texas.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. The pool is located about 23 miles (37 km) west of Austin, Texas off Highway 71. Since the 1960s, Hamilton Pool has been a favorite summer swimming spot for Austin visitors and residents. Hamilton Pool Preserve consists of a jade green pool into which a 50-foot (15 m) waterfall flows. The pool is surrounded by huge slabs of limestone that rest by the water’s edge; large stalactites grow from the ceiling high above. The ceiling and surrounding cliffs of the grotto are home to moss, maidenhair fern and cliff swallows. The Ashe juniper (cedar) uplands of the preserve are home to the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
4. North Rim of the Grand Canyon
5. Bastei, Germany
The Bastei is a rock formation towering 194 metres above the Elbe River in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains of Germany. Reaching a height of 305 metres above sea level, the jagged rocks of the Bastei were formed by water erosion over one million years ago. They are situated near Rathen, not far from Pirna southeast of the city of Dresden and are the major landmark of the Saxon Switzerland National Park. They are also part of a climbing and hiking area that extends over the borders into the Czech Republic and Bohemian Switzerland.
The Bastei has been a tourist attraction for over 200 years. In 1824, a wooden bridge was constructed to link several rocks for the visitors. This bridge was replaced in 1851 by the present Bastei Bridge made of sandstone. The rock formations and vistas have inspired several well-known artists, among them Caspar David Friedrich (i.e. “Felsenschlucht” )
6. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. The national park was founded in 1949 and is situated in the mountainous karst area of central Croatia, at the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region.
The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae, and bacteria. The particularly sensitive travertine barriers are the result of an interplay between water, air and plants. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm per year.
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.
8.Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach is a 65-acre (26 ha) California state park in Santa Cruz, California in the United States. The park features a natural bridge across a section of the beach. It is also well known as a hotspot to see monarch butterfly migrations. The Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve is home to up to 150,000 monarch butterflies from October through early February.
The first inhabitants in the Santa Cruz area were small groups of Native Americans. The Ohlone were a semi-nomadic tribe that hunted game and marine mammals and supplemented their diets with shellfish, fish, edible roots and shoots, acorns, nuts, and seeds. The Ohlone raised medicinal plants and herbs. They made tools from locally found stones and shells. Their crafts included shellfish jewelry and baskets.
The displacement of the natives began with the Spanish colonization of the Americas when missionaries and soldiers brought the Ohlone into the missions. The population of Native Americans was greatly reduced by European diseases to which they had no resistance. Governance of the area was transferred from Spain to Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence. The citizens of Mexico used what is now Natural Bridges State Beach as pasture land for their cattle. California became part of the United States after the Mexican-American War.
The land was purchased by the State of California in 1933 and construction of the state beach facilities began in 1954. The park is now surrounded by beach development and commercial properties.
14. Chaitén (volcano)
Chaitén is a volcanic caldera 3 kilometres (2 mi) in diameter, 17 kilometres (11 mi) west of the elongated ice-capped Michinmahuida volcano and 10 kilometres (6 mi) northeast of the town of Chaitén, near the Gulf of Corcovado in southern Chile. The most recent eruptive phase of the volcano began on 2 May 2008, and is ongoing. According to the Global Volcanism Program, radiocarbon dating of older tephra from the volcano suggests that its last previous eruption was in 7420 BC ± 75 years.
Chaiten volcano, Chana, Chile. Picture taken May 2, 2008 taken by Carlos Gutierrez
15.Matterhorn, Pennine Alps
The Matterhorn (German), Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French), is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Its summit is 4,478 meters (14,690 ft) high, making it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points. The mountain overlooks the town of Zermatt in the canton of Valais to the north-east and Breuil-Cervinia in the Aosta Valley to the south. The Theodul Pass, located at the eastern base of the peak, is the lowest passage between its north and south side.
18. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming. Widely held to be the first national park in the world, Yellowstone Park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, including the subalpine forest.
Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years. The region was bypassed during the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 19th century. Aside from visits by mountain men during the early-to-mid-19th century, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. The U.S. Army was commissioned to oversee the park just after its establishment. In 1917, administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service, which had been created the previous year. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined more than 1,000 archaeological sites.
Yellowstone National Park by photographer Dominic Kamp
"It was ... an obstruction of such character as to leave no doubt in my mind as to our future proceedings, for we might as well sail through the cliffs of Dover as to penetrate such a mass. It would be impossible to conceive a more solid-looking mass of ice; not the smallest appearance of any rent or fissure could we discover throughout its whole extent, and the intensely bright sky beyond it but too plainly indicated the great distance to which it reached southward." -- Sir James Clark Ross
Sir James Clark Ross and his expeditionary fleet sailed around the Ice Wall for a number of months in circumnavigation. Between pit stops at the Cape of Good Hope and his polar expeditions, he spent the next several years of his life circumnavigating the southern coast vainly in search of a south sea passage to the other side.
27. Matsushima, Japan
Matsushima is a group of islands in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. There are some 260 tiny islands covered in pines – hence the name – and is ranked as one of the Three Views of Japan.
A well-known apocryphal haiku often attributed to Matsuo Bashō indicates that the poet is at a loss for words:
A-ah, Matsushima, ah!
31. Kauai, Hawaii
Kauaʻi or Kauai, is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of 562.3 square miles (1,456.4 km2), it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the “Garden Isle”, Kauaʻi lies 105 miles (169 km) across the Kauaʻi Channel, northwest of Oʻahu. This island is the site of Waimea Canyon State Park.
The 2010 census population of Kauaʻi (the island) was 67,091,with the largest town by population being Kapaʻa.
32. Ash Cave in Logan, Ohio
Ash Cave — the largest recess cave in Ohio— is perhaps the most awe-inspiring feature of Hocking Hills State Park. With a horseshoe-shaped rim that spans 700 feet, Ash Cave is, in a word, enormous and open on one side. It measures 100 feet from front to back and 90 feet from the rim’s edge to the floor below. Adding to the dramatic visual impact of Ash Cave is a waterfall that cascades over the rim of the cave. Those lucky enough to visit Ash Cave during an especially cold winter may enjoy a rare treat, as the Ash Cave waterfall has been known to freeze from top to bottom. Another notable sight for this Ohio cave is located at the entrance to Ash Cave. Here your will find Pulpit Rock, a slump rock that once served as a temporary pulpit for worship services held at the cave. Having remarkable acoustics, Ash Cave was used by the Shawnee and other Indian tribes as a temporary shelter and as a meeting room. Parts of the cave are still known as whispering galleries.
The name ” Ash Cave” came from the large ash piles that were found by the earliest settlers. In 1837 it was estimated that there remained 300 to 400 bushels of clean ashes “as dry as they were on the day they were burned.” Test excavations of the ashes in 1877 revealed arrows, sticks, stalks of coarse grasses, flints, bits of pottery and corn cobs. Found in later excavations were bones of elk, black bear, skunk, deer, wild duck, rabbit, box tortoise, passenger pigeon, squirrel, wild turkey and wildcat; all of which were a part of the food supply for the Indians. To this day, no one knows the reason for the ashes; however, it is speculated that the ashes are leftovers from Indian campfires of centuries past.
By Kevin Walker.
I’d love to give credit where it’s due, but all these images were found via 4chan.org. If you know the sources for any of these gorgeous photographs, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them!
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