Top 20 Amazing Natural Wonders

Suggested by SMS

Many people have marveled at the Seven Wonders of the World. Made by man they are a testament to human engineering and cooperation. But as we learn more about our planet it becomes clear that there are a lot more natural wonders of the world. Some of the items on this list are very new, some have been recently discovered but are very old, and others are well known landmarks that have helped characterize nations, our perception of nature as well as fostering a genuine interest in the outdoors everywhere. Our planet is our home and there is a lot here that protects and feeds us but some of the most amazing things in the world are ones that have developed over millions of years, and they seem able to feed is in more important ways. Who knows, maybe you will find you’re next vacation spot here. Here is a list of the top 20 natural wonders of the world.

20. Ayers Rock – Uluru

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Located in the northern territory of Australia Ayers rock, called Uluru by the local Pitjantjatjara people, is 280 miles away from the nearest town and stretches 1,142 feet into the air and is 5 miles around! Made primarily of sandstone it was created from layers of sand that used to cover the centre of Australia itself. Years of pressure and hard weather molded it into the large sandstone, seen above, over the course of 500 million years. It is listed as a world heritage site. Among its wonders you can find springs, rock caves and ancient cave paintings. It is one of Australia’s most recognized sites and many visitors have stopped to watch it change color in the shifting light of the afternoon.

19. The Gunung Mulu National Park

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Gunung Mulu National Park in the State of Sarawak in Borneo is one of the most amazing cave systems you can see and it is in fact the largest enclosed space on the planet. It is also a world heritage site that is teaching geologist a lot about the nature of the planet we all live on. Visitors can walk in illuminated caves that are said to be a truly inspirational sight. Surrounded by rainforest it has been a popular site for explorers and many of the adventures led here have managed to capture the public’s imagination. The current emphasis of the tourist industry however is promoting awareness and understanding of our planets ecosystems. Despite this it is still one of the hardest places to visit, although you can fly into a nearby airport and hike, or even take a 12-hour riverboat ride to the area. So if you are a bit of an adventurer or if you just really like the idea of a riverboat ride into an adventurer’s paradise Gunung Mulu National Park is the place for you!

18. Paricutin Volcano

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This volcano is located in Mexico and is part of the Michoacán-Guanajuato Volcanic Field. What’s amazing about this natural wonder is that it sprung up, out of the ground you can say, underneath a cornfield in February 1943. (The farmer who owner the cornfield is named Dionisio Pulido). The fissure erupted and lava flowed from the opening, in the slow way lava does when it gets done erupting, until 1952! It eventually buried two whole villages in the region and you can still see some of the ruins of the villages sticking out of the solidified lava. Paricutin is a cinder cone volcano, which essentially means that it will likely never erupt again. The volcano is the youngest of all 1,400 currently known in the area and stands at 1,284 feet tall. But what makes this natural wonder even more amazing is that it is the only volcano witnessed during its creation in human history. This is particular amazing because while geologists have devoted lives to the study of their science they are unable to actual see a lot of what they are talking about since the movements of the earth and rock formations are obviously very slow compared to a human life time. Paricutin was therefore a rare chance to witness something that had only ever been talked about before.

17. Victoria Falls

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One of the most amazing waterfalls in the entire world is located in Zambia, in the country of Zimbabwe. Visible from up to 40 miles away the waterfalls spry can jump up to a 1,000 feet into the air. Formed by the movement of the earth over 150 million years ago Victoria Falls is a glimpse of something primal. Spanning 5,550 feet it is a magnificent sight and the sound is so overpowering the locals have come to call it ‘smoke that thunders.’ The height of Victoria Falls varies from 259 to 350 feet high at the center. In many respects it is the largest waterfall in the world. Discovered by David Livingstone in 1855 it was named for Queen Victoria of England. Waterfalls are notoriously romantic places, water a symbol of life, and Victoria falls not only has more of both then almost anywhere else in the world it also offers a glimpse of the past in a very unique way.

16. Mammoth cave

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Mammoth Cave, located in Western Kentucky, is not only Kentucky’s only National Park, but is also the most longest system of underground caves in the world. It boasts 365 miles of explored territory, and even more that hasn’t yet been walked upon yet. A variety of tours go through the cave system throughout the year. The most amazing aspect of this cave system has to be that if you joined the worlds other two longest caves together Mammoth Cave’s cave system would still be longer by 100 miles. It was named for the variety of mammoth and other large bones found in the area. In fact such archaeological finds are still being found, and early explorers of the cave in the 18th century found the bones so well preserved they actually believed they might encounter some of these great beast as they pushed further into the new country. In short this is a great look at cave system that played a part in the early history of America’s story.

15. Lake Baikal

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The deepest fresh water lake in the world! Lake Baikal, located in southern Siberia in Russia, is a breathtaking sight. It is also one of the oldest lakes in the world, (estimated at being 25 million years old), and is so large it was referred to as the ‘North sea’ in several historical texts from china. Surrounded by mountains and home to 22 separate islands Lake Baikal has been called the ‘Blue Eye of Siberia’ and even a short look at the magnitude of its landscape and the reports from visitors show that its beauty and wonder are unmistakable. Stretching down into the earth 5,370 feet deep and with a crescent shaped surface of 12,160 square miles this truly is the deepest Fresh water lake in the world and a truly amazing natural wonder. It is a rare natural wonder in one of remotest places on the planet. It also puts truth to the myth that all of Siberia is cover in snow!

14. The Plitvice Lakes

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Located in Croatia, the Plitvice Lakes are one of the country’s most beautiful sights and draw in visitors from around the world every year. There are a total of sixteen lakes in all and they’re connected by a series of waterfalls that makes it one of Croatia’s most and popular attractions. Oddly enough, this is also where Croatia’s War of Independence began in 1991. They provide a unique and enthralling view of the coincidences and amazing power of nature through the changing color of the lakes water in the sunlight and visitors can be sure they will never have the same experience twice or each and every time they go. Croatia is also fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for travelers of all sorts around the world and with wonders like the Plitvice lakes it is easy to see why.

13. The Barringer Meteor Crater

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Located near Flagstaff in northern Arizona this meteor crater is named after Daniel Barringer who first speculated it had been caused by a meteorite. (The Barringer family also privately owns the crater.) Many natural wonders are amazing because of their beauty, like the northern lights or Lake Victoria falls, it is safe to say that the Barringer Crater is not. But we have encountered other reasons for amazing natural wonders such as unique qualities and destructive power both of which cause just as much wonder in us as onlookers. But the Barringer meteor crater has something else as well. The sight of the largest meteor crater in the world brings out an honest curiosity in us. Protected by the moon and the gravity of Jupiter we have largely been left to imagine what kind of damage such an object could do. But the Barringer Meteor crater, as you can see from the picture above, does a lot to bring some cold hard reality into that image. Simply put at 4,145 feet across and 570 feet deep the sight of this great hole in the earth’s surface can send cold chills down your spine. Traveling at over 43,000 miles an hour the meteor would have created an explosion 40 times larger than the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima at the end of world war two, breaking the 77,000 ton meteor into pieces upon landing!

12. The Hydrothermal Vents (Deep sea vents)

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Imagine Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park (see item number 4 on this list), but under water. That is basically a hydrothermal vent. Spouting very, very hot, (up to 750°F), mineral rich water the vents are actually home to some of the most unique and bizarre life forms on the planet. First discovered in 1977 the vents were thought to be too hot for life to survive, but since then, life, living in darkness and under indescribably hot temperatures, has been found! The vents are present in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at an average depth of 7,000 feet, where no light can penetrate, and are centered on a tectonic fissure in the earth’s crust known as the Mid-ocean Ridge system that runs all the way around the planet. How do these vents work? As the plates of the earths surface separate salt water falls into the cracks and gets heated by the molten rock underneath. The water is then eventually forced back up when it hits boiling point. There are two types of vents ‘black smokers’; which provide hotter jets mainly containing ion and sulfide and ‘white smokers’ that are cooler and give off compounds like calcium and silicon. One vent chimney, known as ‘Godzilla,’ located in the Pacific Ocean near Oregon got to be as tall as a 15-story building before it collapsed. They are still largely a mystery to scientist and to the rest of us they are simply a deeply unusual natural wonder.

11. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro

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A natural harbor and one of the most beautiful things you could possible see in your life. This is the harbor of Rio de Janeiro, or River of January. The reason it was called a river was because the Portuguese sailors who found and named this amazing natural wonder mistook the grand opening of the harbor for a river, and while it hurts to take the shine off a name, the reason it was called ‘January’ is because that’s the month they found it in back in 1502. Still, even after you have dissected the name, it still sounds wonderful and the sight of it is more than enough to make you forget the boring reason behind its poetic name. It makes it this high on the list of natural wonders of the world because unlike the other wonders the harbor of Rio de Janeiro has become a Natural Wonder of the World purely because of its beauty. True, the natural formation of a harbor is a wonder in itself, but it is the grace of its lines on the shores of Guanabara Bay that have pulled in sight seers and travelers from all over the world…that, and the sunny climate.

10. Mainau

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Germany might not sound like a suitable location for a tropical island, but the flora and fauna on Mainau, located in Lake Constance, seem to be doing just fine. Also called the “flower island”, Mainau gets its mild climate from a combination of the cross winds that blow in from the Alps. Palm trees and oranges flourish there during the correct season and the pretty Baroque castle is a focal tourist spot for everyone who hears about it. Unnaturally it is not as well know as most natural wonders of the world, but the unique and almost unbelievable combination f weather patterns and placement make Mainau an oddity truly worthy of a place on a list like this.

9. The Badlands

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The Badlands National Park, located in southwestern South Dakota, is one of the most unusual sights in the United States. It encompasses 244,000 acres of buttes, spires, and prairie grasslands. In the past, most of the Midwest consisted of prairie lands. However, once the settlers started moving in, they began tearing out the prairie grass in order to make farms and till the land. What they didn’t know at the time was that the prairie grass was what was holding the dirt in the ground because the winds in those areas get to be pretty strong. Very soon, the entire Midwest was engulfed in the Great Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Fortunately, the reserve at the Badlands has preserved the prairie lands in the region. As far as fossils go, everything from crocodiles to camels and rhinos have been discovered in the area and people the world over have enjoyed the opportunity to explain that for their family vacation they explored ‘The Badlands.’

8. The Painted Desert

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Located in North Eastern Arizona and stretching from the Grand Canyon National Park to the Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert is one of the American West’s most stunning sights. The bands of colors are what make the scenic rises and buttes interesting in a way no other topography can match and at any given time visitors can see reds, yellows, grays, and oranges on one single formation. These colors are created by stratified layers of mineral deposits and detritus, (decaying organic matter), but even knowing this the sight of the Painted Desert is nothing short of an awe inspiring wonder of nature. The desert is also a popular place to see dinosaur tracks and prehistoric fossils. Unfortunately most of the Painted Desert is only accessibly on foot or by traveling on one of the many unpaved roads that run through it. But it is certainly worth the effort!

7. The Matterhorn

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The Matterhorn is not the highest in the famous Swiss mountain range, but it was the one to capture our imagination. The Matterhorn looks out over the nearby village of Zermatt and sits on the border between Switzerland and Italy. It has become the iconic image of the Alps and was first climbed in 1865 by and English artist and engraver named Edward Whymper. It has two distinct peaks the tallest of which over 14,690 feet and the other resting on the Italian side of the mountain is calculated at 14,680 making it an almost imperceptible difference and accounting for it’s four sided pyramid shape. The mountains distinct shape also stops ice and snow from building up on its sides creating another factor that has gone into designing its iconic image and stunning appearance. But the mountain is as dangerous as it is beautiful. The Matterhorn’s north face has become one of the greatest challengers to climbers. From 1865 to 1995 over 500 people have died on the Matterhorns north face making it not only one of the most recognizable but also the deadliest north face in the Alps.

6. Niagara Falls

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Resting between the Canadian providence of Ontario and the U.S state of New York Niagara Falls is not only a natural wonder but also an industrial powerhouse of hydroelectric power. Combining the beauty of nature with our own effort to preserve our natural resources Niagara Falls offers a breathtaking view and has been a major tourist attraction since European explorers discovered it in the 1800’s. It is made up of several separate waterfalls named The Horeshoe Falls (on the Canadian side), the American Falls and the Bridal Veil falls. At times the combined volume of water flowing through Niagara Falls can get up to 202,000 cubic feet per second making it the most power full waterfall in north America. Extended more than 62 miles both east and west it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive landmarks in the world. As if this wasn’t enough to warrant it’s place on the list of natural wonders consider the fact that it is over 420 million years old, that the dinosaurs, (the famous kind), were around only 230 million years ago at the earliest, and that humans started out only 1 and a half million years ago. So Niagara Falls has been breathtaking for 280 times longer then the human race has walked the earth!

5. Mount Everest

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Located in High Asia on Nepal Tibet and China Mount Everest is the tallest mountain, or anything else, in the world as measured from sea level. Ranging nearly 29,029 feet into the air it is as close to space as any one can go without the help of a plane, spacecraft, or really big slingshot and some serious guts. Of course it also takes an awful lot of bravery to even attempt climbing Mount Everest since over 150 people have died trying to. It was first ascended on may 29th 1953 by the New Zealand explorer Edmund Hillary and the Nepali-Tibetan mountaineer Tenzing Norgay but since then many have lost their lives trying to equal the feet including fifteen climbers who died trying to return from the summit in 1996. A mystical and alluring image it’s distant, and almost invisible peaks have been drawing climbers and visitors ever since it was first seen by Europeans in the 1950’s, but the Chinese and Nepalese have placed a number of restrictions to limit access, only increasing the publics interest. But since the 1996 disaster question about the ‘commercialization’ of climbing Everest have been raised. Still it is unlikely that anything will ever be enough to scare men and women who dare to dream of climbing Everest. Originally formed by a collision between the continent of Asia and India, (which was then a separate land mass), over 60 million years ago Mount Everest is undoubtedly one of the true natural wonders of the world.

4. Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone has been a world heritage site since 1978 and was established as National Park by the United States in 1872. So it has long been regarded as one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, but it has recently, in the last decade or so, been drawing a lot of attention for another reason, it is a super volcano. The BBC science channel ‘horizon’ first coined the term ‘super volcano’ in 2000, (more commonly called a megacaldera by scientists), but since then there have been increasing scientific and public interest in them. There are several super volcanoes on the planet but Yellowstone, previously known more for it natural beauty, it’s abundant wild life and Good Old Faithful, (the geezer that erupts ever 91 minutes or so), is now know to be the largest super volcano on the American continent. Simply put a super volcano is where magma that forms close to the earths and can build up enough pressure to erupt. In other words when a super volcano erupts it literally blows a hole in the side of the planet. Such a powerful explosion sends vast amount of debris and molten lava into the air and the force is strong enough that the material can cause vast changes to weather patterns around the globe possibly threading extinction. It has been theorized that a super volcano is, among other things, capable of plunging the planet into a ‘small’ (relatively speaking) ice age. Yellowstone is over 3,460 square miles and offers a number of other wonders including lakes, mountains, wonderful wildlife and the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem which is the largest remaining one in the Northern hemisphere.

3. The Great Barrier Reef

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Located off the coast of Queensland in the northeast of Australia the Great Barrier Reef is the largest object visible from space made by living organisms. The people who made the Great Wall of China would probably be very upset if they heard this, but tiny little microorganisms called coral polyps beat them to the title. The reef is a fragile and unique organism housing many species that don’t exist anywhere else. First named a World heritage site in 1981 conservation efforts have been extensive and continual and a large part of the Reef has been protected by the Great Barrier reef Marine Park established in 1975. Made up of over 2,900 separate reef systems it forms 900 island, (claimed by that industrious captain Cook for Britain in the 1700’s), it is over 1,242 miles long and covers 137,000 square miles. Interestingly it also grounded Captain cooks ship, (the endeavor), in 1770.

2. The Grand Canyon

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‘It’s a big hole,’ this is what most people find themselves saying when they see the Grand Canyon near Flagstaff, Arizona. This is not because visitors are prone to stating the obvious but because when they are faced with the 290-mile tear in the earth’s crust they can usual think of little else to say. It is an overpowering and wondrous sight to behold. It is 18 miles across at its widest point and goes up to a mile down. Cut out through a 6 million year long process by the gradual weight and pressure of the Colorado river the Grand Canyon has been a National Park since 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson finally managed to have it re-classified over the objections of those with mining rights. But it was President Theodore Roosevelt, the great outdoorsmen, who first recognized the Grand Canyons natural beauty and wonder and had it designated a Game Persevere in 1906. After several predators became extinct in the area it was finally possible to have it re-classified as a National Monument in 1908, before Woodrow Wilson did the world a favor by saving it and establishing the Grand Canyon, once and for all, as a National Park. Although it took ‘only’ 6 million years for the river to cut the Grand Canyon into the ground of Arizona it uncovered an impressive 200 billion years worth of geological history and shows evidence of humans in the area over 4,000 years ago. A true wonder of nature the Grand Canyon is not something you can see, but only travel, because it is too big to take in at any one place. The Park even offers visitors a remarkable tour to the bottom of the Canyon that can either be hiked or, if you are a little more adventurous, traveled by pack mule.

1. Aurora Borealis

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The Auruoa Borealis, or northern lights, is the largest natural wonder in the world. Caused by charged particles, or ions, that gather to form plasma, it drifts towards the earth in the form of solar winds. When these solar winds interact with earth’s magnetic field they are forced down into the ionosphere and react to natural gasses. This reaction is what causes the vast and shifting array of colors visible mainly in the northern Hemisphere. The lights can also be seen in the southern hemisphere, then called the Aurora Australis (Latin for south), or the southern lights, but the phenomenon is best seen in the north and people travel to Alaska, Norway, Greenland, and Iceland every year to improve there chances of seeing it. No two viewings of the Aurora Borealis are the same and they have been amazing people across the world for as long as there has been recorded myth and folk law. Despite this it was the 6th president of the United States Benjamin Franklin who first brought the question of the northern light to the attention of the greater public and scientific community, stating that it might have been caused by electric charges in the Polar Regions. In fact this natural wonder of the world, as we have seen, originates not from the polar regions of our world but from the sun that gives it light. A gift of natural wonder, you could say, from above. The number 1 amazing natural wonder on this list is has no setting or national identity but litters the sky itself with a mystifying array of vibrant colors for all to see: A true amazing natural wonder of the world.

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