As any good fan of sci-fi knows, few things can make or break the allure of an alien planet or a strange dimension like a great atmosphere. After all, what Star Wars lover can’t immediately picture the barren planet where Luke Skywalker grew up? Who can watch Lord of the Rings without cringing at the thought of the treacherous peaks of Mordor? So cool are the landscapes of many of these fictional worlds, that it may even be tempting to think of our own planet as a little boring in comparison. Not so fast! We’ve collected a series of weird landscape photos that’ll show you why Earth is way cooler than you may think.
Below you’ll find a collection of Earthly landscapes that look like they’re from another planet entirely. So otherworldly are some of these places in fact, that they’ve been used by NASA for testing out equipment bound for missions to planets like Mars. Others among these weird landscapes have also been heavily utilized by Hollywood in order to create the atmospheres for fictional planets in movies. After all, the Star Wars crew wasn’t exactly able to catch a few shots in outer space- Luke’s childhood planet was actually a place called Chott el Djerid in Tunisia.
So come on in and get ready to see the world in a whole new light. We’ll show you weird landscapes ranging from a pink lake to chocolate hills to a beach that sparkles at night like something from a fairytale. At the end of the day, these beautiful landscape photos might just convince you that Earth isn’t such a boring place after all.
Emerald Ice on Lake Baikal, Russia
Not only is Russia’s Lake Baikal the oldest freshwater lake on Earth, it’s also so large that it contains about 1/5 of the World’s freshwater! Around March every year, a mixture of unequal pressure and varying temperatures causes cracking in the Lake’s surface, which sometimes result in these cool glass-looking formations.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Who ever thought worms could be so gorgeous? That’s right, the sparkling roofs of these New Zealand caves are due to the efforts of thousands of tiny glowworms which emit a luminous light.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
Though one look at a picture of Wyoming’s Grand Prismatic Spring may leave you swearing it’s photoshopped, the colors you see here are all natural. These gorgeous colors are actually caused by cyanobacteria, which are kind of like bacteria’s distant cousin.
Glowing Beach, Maldives
If you’ve always dreamed of a fairy tale wedding, there’s no better place to tie the knot than this gorgeous glow-in-the-dark beach in the Maldives. Scientists explain that the sparkling lights in the water are actually emitted by tiny organisms called “ostracod crustaceans,” which are kind of like seed shrimp.
Fly Geyser, Nevada, USA
Though this wild looking Geyser is actually on a patch of private land near the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, there are still ways to get a peek. The Geyser is only about 1/3 of a mile off of State Route 34, which also functions as a viewpoint for those hoping to see the otherworldly looking formation.
The city of Pamukkale, which means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is packed full of natural hot springs, which create these cool terraces out of sedimentary rocks.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela
Want to take a trip to the clouds? Head on over to Mount Roraima, where you can make the trip without ever leaving the ground. This ancient mountain is said to have some of the most fascinating hiking trails in the world.
Ice Cave Near Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia
It turns out fire and ice actually mix quite nicely at times. This cave, formed in the glacial fields at the base of Mutnovsky Volcano, demonstrates the most gorgeous case of opposites attracting ever.
Mendenhall Ice Caves, Alaska, USA
Though only reachable by kayak, the ice caves inside the 12-mile long Mendenhall glacier are stunning enough to make the trip worth the effort.
Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
Not only is Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave gorgeous, it’s also the largest known cave in the world.
The Wave, Arizona
Known as “the Wave,” this rolling land formation lies right near the Arizona-Utah border. Not only are the shapes that run through the sandstone like something out of a Salvador Dali painting, they even change color with the light throughout the day.
Abraham Lake, Canada
Cool as they may look, resist any temptations to attempt to pop any of these bubbles frozen under Abraham Lake. They are actually frozen methane bubbles and can be dangerous if they are popped!
Lake Hillier, Australia
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about Lake Hillier is that no one knows for sure exactly why it’s bubblegum pink. Scientists say that their best guess is that the color is due to a pink dye created by the bacteria that live in the lake’s salt crusts.
Dallol Volcano, Ethiopia
Though little known and rarely visited, Ethiopia’s Dallol desert features one of the most fascinating landscapes on the planet. In the area surrounding the Dallol volcano, you’ll find everything from pillars of salt to pools of acid.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Though it may be hard to believe, the mysterious-looking iconic basalt formations of Giant’s Causeway aren’t man-made. They are actually due to a volcanic eruption that’s thought to have happened several million years ago.
Painted Dunes at Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA
These gorgeous painted dunes, which are about the most beautiful result of volcanic activity ever, can be seen from the top of Cinder Cone at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.
Painted Desert, Arizona, USA
As if Arizona’s Painted Desert isn’t cool enough already, sometimes the air there glows with a pink or purple haze of dust, making it look even more magical.
Naica Mines, Mexico
Also known as the Cave of Crystals, this otherworldly-looking place is an actual working mine in Chihuaua, Mexico. It’s famous for its- you guessed it- crystals.
Gate To Hell, Turkmenistan
Though we wouldn’t recommend getting too close, this terrifying land form in Turkmenistan is about the closest you’re going to get to Mordor. Keep that in mind for the next time you’ve got an evil ring that needs destroying.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park features a collection of gorgeous waterfalls, many of which have formed natural dams, lakes, and water ways in the limestone and chalk down which they glide.
Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Phillipines
Though it may be hard to believe that this collection of over 1,000 perfectly formed hills in the Philippines is not man-made, scientists say that their construction would’ve surpassed the skill needed to build the pyramids of Egypt. Even geologists are at a loss to explain the origin of the limestone formations, which derive their name from the grass that covers them and turns brown each winter.
Stone Forest, China
If you’re looking for an exotic place to visit on your next vacation, it doesn’t get much better than China’s Stone Forest. The ancient limestone formations that rise out of the Earth are massive and create a sort of labyrinth over almost 200 miles of landscape.
Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
The next time you find yourself driving through Utah, don’t panic if you get the nagging feeling that you’re being watched. You may just be under the watchful gaze of the Goblin-like stone formations of Goblin Valley State Park.
Spotted Lake, Canada
Canada’s spotted lake is packed with tons of minerals like sodium, calcium and magnesium sulfates, which cause these awesome circular patterns to appear on the surface.
Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand
The Moeraki Boulders may just be the only stones in the world more interesting than the beach they lie on. These bad boys are thought to have been created by the cementation of mud stone about 60 million years ago.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Chile’s Atacama Desert is considered to be among the driest deserts in the World and has been used by NASA to test equipment for upcoming Mars missions, due to how similar the landscape is to that of the red planet.
However, in 2015, a year of record rainfall due to El Nino caused the desert floor to become overwhelmed with beautiful pink malva flowers.
Pinnacle Desert, Australia
One of Australia’s best kept secrets, this alien-looking desert features thousands of eerie limestone pillars which rise out of the yellow sands.
Rio Tinto River, Spain
Pretty as it is, the Rio Tinto River here isn’t really the best place to take a dip. Its red, orange, and yellow tones are due to years of strip mining in the area, which have also made it extremely poisonous.
Chott el Djerid, Tunisia
If this landscape looks familiar, that’s because it doubled as “Tatooine” in the Star Wars Movies. Its sun-baked sands have been described as one of the most Mars-like places on Earth.