From California to Virginia, one could argue the United States has the coolest rock formations in the entire world. Some closely resemble animals while others appear other-worldly, but all have one thing in common: they are fascinating to look at. Whether they were created by sudden volcanic eruptions, sculpted by years of wind blast, or hollowed-out by water, these natural rock formations pique the interest of visitors around the world. While you likely can’t get in a plane and visit them today, a trip to these 10 rock formations may just get added to your travel bucket list after you’re done reviewing our list.
Turnip Rock | Michigan
Located in Lake Huron, Turnip Rock was eroded away by splashing waves over thousands of years. The rock was originally separated from the mainland during prehistoric times and now resembles a tiny island standing high above the water. Despite being well-above water, this rock is home to several trees and vegetation. Despite its uniqueness, Turnip Rock remains somewhat of a hidden gem and has a limited number of visitors each year.
Eagle Rock | California
Along the infamous Pacific Crest Trail you’ll find a rock formation you can’t miss, a large pile of rocks that clearly resemble an eagle. This giant rock formation was sculpted by none other than Mother Nature herself. While many people aren’t aware of Eagle Rock, it can be easily accessed by driving an hour from central San Diego to Warner Springs. A 6-mile out and back hike along one of America’s most popular trails allows you to climb to the top of this rock and “fly like an eagle”.
The Subway | Utah
There aren’t many popular hiking trails in the United States that require you to traverse through ankle-deep water. The Subway is a different story. Located in Zion National Park, this rock formation forms a slot canyon and resembles a subway tube (hence the name). With a permit, adventurers can rappel down into the Subway or you can also hike up the Left Fork from the bottom of the Subway. Either route The Subway is a sight to be seen.
Devil’s Tower | Wyoming
Looking for a cool rock formation that is also considered to be sacred? Look no further than the Devil’s Tower in the Bear Lodge Mountains in Wyoming, a towering rock formation the Lakota considered sacred. It stands at 1,267 feet tall and was named a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. If you feel like pushing your limits, visitors can climb to the top of Devil’s Tower.
Antelope Canyon | Arizona
There are two things you’ll need for a visit to Antelope Canyon: a tour guide and a good camera. Located on Navajo Land east of Page, Arizona, this quarter-mile slot canyon was formed by erosion of sandstone due to flash flooding. Antelope Canyon is an immensely popular tourist destination, with world-renowned photographers across the world traveling here to capture the beauty of this rock formation. Unsurprisingly, it is the most photographed slot canyons in the world.
Natural Bridge | Virginia
Natural Bridge is one of the east coast’s most spectacular geological masterpieces. Over the years Cedar Creek carved out a gorge forming a natural arch 215 feet high. Today visitors can come check out this National Historic Landmark and take a walk along the Cedar Creek Trail by taking a trip to the southern end of Shenandoah Valley. The Cedar Creek Trail will lead you from this natural wonder to the Monacan Indian Village and the 30-foot Lace Falls.
Goblin Valley | Utah
Not sure what a hoodoo is? We weren’t either until we looked into what exactly the strange rock formations are called at Goblin Valley State Park. These mushroom-shaped rocks are formed from an erosion-resistant layer of rock atop softer sandstone. Bryce Canyon National Park, about a three-hour drive, and Goblin Valley State Park are two locations with the highest occurrences of hoodoos in the world.
Iao Needle | Hawaii
The state of Hawaii, remote and far-removed from the rest of the United States, is infamous for its abundance of volcanoes. The Iao Needle on the island of Maui is a famous landmark at the Io Valley State Monument, a stand-out lava remnant covered in vegetation. Unfortunately, the Iao Needle isn’t accessible at this time due to damage from heavy rain and flooding.
Horseshoe Bend | Arizona
Horseshoe Bend, like Antelope Canyon, is another one of the world’s most photographed rock formations and also resides in the town of Page. An easy, 0.75-mile hike will take you to Horseshoe Bend, where you will immediately be greeted by throngs of eager picture-enthusiasts. The seemingly displaced rock is a meander in the Colorado River. The water eroded away the canyon and left behind a wide sweep around the sandstone escarpment.
Elephant Rock | Nevada
Many visit Las Vegas to take their shot at winning big money or to dance the night away at one of nightclubs dotting the strip. Not many are aware of Valley of Fire State Park, a mere 45-minute drive from the strip. Fewer know about Elephant Rock, a large red rock that clearly forms the shape of an elephant at Valley of Fire State Park. The hike to Elephant Rock is less than a mile, and may be one of the coolest rock formations you’ll ever see.