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17 Colorful rock formations around the world

Updated on January 12, 2017

Many nature and geology lovers will already know the colorful rainbow hills of Danxia Landform in China. It’s one of those beautiful natural places that make you want to search for more. This article lists 17 colorful rock formations around the world that are all worthy of a place on any travel bucket list. Nature’s art at its best!

Multicolor rock formations in Asia

Zhangye Danxia Landform, China

For those who haven't discovered this beauty yet, this list starts with probably the most well known multicolor geological wonder on earth: China’s rainbow mountains in Zhangye Danxia Landform National Geological Park in the province of Gansu. It's a landscape of sandstone hills with bands of various colors that are due to mineral deposits. Definitely one of those must see natural places, and the nice thing is that it doesn’t take hours of hiking to reach the best spots!

Wucai Cheng, China

Zhangye Danxia in Gansu is not the only rainbow mountain range in China. Another Chinese multicolor beauty is Yardang Landform Wucai Cheng (or Wucaiwan) in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. It looks amazing and is pretty different to Danxia.

Tabriz-Zanjan highway, Iran

Along the Tabriz-Zanjan highway in the province of East-Azerbaijan, Iran, you will find areas with colorful hills. The hills remind a little bit of Danxia Landform, only the range of colors seems to be a bit more limited.

Rainbow mountains in South America

Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca, Peru

Peru’s Rainbow Mountain, or Vinicunca, is a sandstone formation with several bright color bands, probably one of the most colorful rock formations on earth. A truly amazing site within the Ausangate area, so if you have the chance, try not to miss this if you plan a visit to Peru. It’s definitely worth a place on any nature travel bucket list. Also, it's not that far from Machu Picchu, one of Peru's most famous historical places. To reach Vinicunca takes a long hike, but you won’t be doing it for nothing!

Serranias del Hornocal, Argentina

Serranias del Hornocal in Argentina is another colorful geological formation in South America. An interestingly shaped color palette that can be easily seen from a view point just off the road. Argentina has other colorful rocks to offer, like the hill with seven colors in Pumamarca, and the multicolor sedimentary layers of La Yesera in Quebrada de las Conchas, but Serranias is probably the most aesthetic.

Multicolor geological sights in North America

Painted Hills, Oregon, USA

And yet another one of those beautiful colorful rock formations that look like they were painted on: the Painted Hills, part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon. Its colors are mainly yellows and reds, with a few other colors in between as well. You can reach the main overlook area by car on a dirt road.

Chinle Formation, Old Paria, Utah, USA

Between Kanab and Big Water, in Utah's Paria Badlands, you will find the Chinle Formation, an area that contains stunning hills with horizontal layers of many colors. If you are in the area because of the famous and beautiful Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks or Zion National Park, then try to combine your vacation with a trip to this hidden gem.

Fly Geyser, Nevada, USA

This multicolor rock outcrop in Nevada is not completely natural, because the geyser itself is man made. The formation however is natural and the colors too. The colors are caused by thermophiles, therefore the color patterns may vary in time. Fly Geyser was created in 1917, and over the years turned into an interesting travertine outcrop.

Cottonwood Cove, Arizona, USA

In the same area where the gorgeous geological wonder The Wave can be found, is Cottonwood Cove in South Coyote Buttes, Arizona. It's an area where you can find sandstone rock outcrops with yellow and pink colors in a randomly striped pattern. If you're hiking Cottonwood Cove, don’t miss the little boulder that is half yellow and half pink and looks like candy. Amazing.

Artist’s Palette (Artist Drive Formation), California, USA

Another multicolor beauty in Western USA is Artist Drive Formation, or the Artist’s Palette. It’s part of Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California, and it looks a bit like a paint palette filled with pastel colors. If you decide to visit this place, you can park nearby.

Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Colorado, USA

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is a great natural site in Colorado, with areas of colorful clay, mainly yellows and pinks. In ancient days the clay was used for, as the park name also suggests, making paint.

Colorful rock formations in Europe

Persfjord, Norway

Persfjord in Norway is a rocky beach area that reminds a bit of the flysch areas in northern Spain, but this time with rainbow colors. Not the most practical location though, as it’s high up north in Norway. But, if northern Norway is on your travel bucket list, maybe because of the North Cape or the Northern Lights, then try to add this hidden beauty to your travel plan.

Kastanas Beach, Isle of Milos, Greece

On the Isle of Milos, a volcanic island, you will find Kastanas Beach with its gorgeous colorful boulders and outcrops with beautiful patterns, a great example of nature's art. Another colorful area on this island is Paleochori Beach with a background of colorful cliffs along the coastline. Besides this, you will also find a great columnar basalt formation on Milos. When it comes to the Greek islands, the Isle of Milos appears to be a great choice for nature and geology lovers.

Labetxu Valley, Jaizkibel, Spain

In the Jaizkibel mountains in Basque Country in northern Spain, you will find an area full of weathered hollow grey sandstone boulders and formations where you can see a colorful inside that holds amazing patterns and colors (yellow, red and more). It can be found near the seaside in the Labetxu Valley. On your way you might encounter some wild horses too, pretty amazing.

La Vallée des Saints, Boudes, France

Within La Vallée des Saints in Boudes in the Auvergne region in France, there's an area where you will find a rock formation with wide rainbow colored bands in pink, orange and yellow.

Colorful geological wonders in Africa

Seven Coloured Earths, Chamarel, Mauritius

The Seven Coloured Earths are a geological wonder near Chamarel in southern Mauritius. The site looks like a rock formation, but it's actually a formation of multicolor sand dunes. It’s not a large site but the colors can be quite spectacular.

Coloured Canyon, Sinaï, Egypt

Coloured Canyon on the Sinaï peninsula in Egypt is a sandstone canyon of which a certain part contains a surface with beautiful colors and swirly rock patterns, it’s like an abstract painting!

There you have it, 17 of the most amazing colorful rock formations around the world. Doesn’t nature's art just put a smile on your face? If you're a nature lover or have a fascination for the beauty of geology, there will be more related articles added in future, so don’t forget to check in again later!

Bear in mind that sometimes colors in online photos seem to be a bit exaggerated. Also, color intensity can be influenced by rain and, of course, light. If you plan to visit some of these wonderful places, it’s better to expect a slightly more pastel version of the burning colors you often see online.

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