10 Incredible Rock Pillar Landscapes
These monoliths are around 30 to 42 m (100-140 ft) high and jut out of a hilly plateau formed through the weathering effects of ice and winds.
Deemed one of the Seven Wonders of Russia, the Manpupuner rock formations are a verypopular attraction in Russia, though not well known internationally and relatively unspoiled by tourism. Their height and abnormal shapes supposedly make the top of these rock giants inaccessible even to experienced rock-climbers.
2. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a unique national forest park located in Zhangjiajie City in northern Hunan Province in the People’s Republic of China. It is one of several national parks within the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.
The most notable geographic features of the park are the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. They are the result of many years of erosion. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. Much of the erosion which forms these pillars are the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.
In 1992, Wulingyuan was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the park’s quartz-sandstone pillars, the 3,544-foot (1,080 m) Southern Sky Column, had been officially renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” in honor of the eponymous film in January 2010.
3. Lena Pillars, Russia
Lena Pillars is the name given to a natural rock formation along the banks of the Lena River in far eastern Siberia. The pillars are 150-300 m (490-985 ft) high and consists of the alternating horizons of limestone, marlstones, dolomites and slate. The Lena Pillars National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2012.
The giant stone colonnades of Lena Pillars Nature Park line the banks of the Lena River in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia. Isolated from each other, the pillars soar to heights of 100 meters or more than 328 feet, and are also rich in fossils. They formed by freeze-thaw action over the millennia due to the area’s extreme changes in temperatures.
The site lies less than a day’s boat ride upriver (south) from the city of Yakutsk, the capital of the autonomous Sakha Republic. One may plan a river cruise by contacting a travel service in the city of Yakutsk.
4. Isimila Gorge in Iringa, Tanzania
This Monument in Tanzania is found at Isimila, 20 km (12.5 mi) South of Iringa on the Mbeya road. Isimila date back some thousands years and contains ancient tools, weapons and dramatic sandstone columns that stand as mute sentinels to a bygone era.
Pillars standing in arrays along a 2 km (1.25 mi) gorge and the height of each is variable ranging between 20-30 feet (6-9 m) high from the basement of the eroded land. The site was discovered in 1951 by Mr. D.A.Maclennan of the St. Peters School in Johannesburg, South Africa who was on his way from Nairobi to Johannesburg.
5. Đavolja Varoš, Serbia
Đavolja Varoš (meaning “Devil’s Town”) is a peculiar rock formation, located in south Serbia on the Radan Mountain near Kuršumlija. It features 202 exotic formations described as earth pyramids or “towers”, as the locals refer to them. They are 2-15 m (7-50 ft) tall and 4-6 m (13-20 ft) wide at the base.
These formations were created by strong erosion of the soil that was scene of intense volcanic activity thousands of years ago. Most of the towers have “caps” or “heads” of andesite, which protect them from further erosion. Since 1959, Đavolja Varoš has been protected by the state and a 1995 decision of the Serbian Government declared it a major natural monument subject to category one protection.
A natural spring is located beneath the formations and has a high mineral concentration. There are two springs: Đavolja voda (Devil’s Water), with extremely acidic water (pH 1.5) and high mineral concentration (15 g/l of water), and Crveno vrelo (Red Well). Đavolja Varoš was a nominee in the New Seven Wonders of Nature campaign.
6. Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, Madagascar
Tsingy de Bemaraha is one of Madagascar’s newest parks – it was opened to the public only in 1998. The 152,000 ha (587 sq mi) Bemaraha is best known for its tsingy sharp limestone pinnacles that may reach 150 feet (45 m) in height. Cut through the tsingy are canyons and gorges full of rich fauna and flora.
The Tsingys are karstic plateaus in which groundwater has undercut the elevated uplands, and has gouged caverns and fissures into the limestone. The word tsingy is indigenous to the Malagasy language as a description of the karst badlands of Madagascar. The word can be translated into English as where one cannot walk barefoot. This place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. [link1, link2, map]
7. Needles (Black Hills), USA
The Needles of the Black Hills of South Dakota are a region of fantastically eroded granite pillars, towers, and spires. Popular with rock climbers and tourists alike, the Needles are accessed from the Needles Highway, which is a part of Sylvan Lake Road (SD 87/89).
The Cathedral Spires and Limber Pine Natural Area, a portion of the Needles containing six ridges of pillars as well as a disjunct stand of limber pine, was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1976.
The Needles were the original site proposed for the Mount Rushmore carvings. The location was rejected by the sculptor Gutzon Borglum owing to the poor quality of the granite and the fact that they were too thin to support the sculptures. The Needles attract approximately300,000 people annually. [link, map]
8. Meteora, Greece
The Metéora is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.
The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. Some of the pillars are high up to 400 meters (1.300 ft).
The nearest town is Kalambaka. The Metéora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under criteria I, II, IV, V and VII.
9. Pobiti Kamani, Bulgaria
Pobiti Kamani is a rock phenomenon located in Varna Province, Bulgaria, on the road between Varna and Sofia around several villages just west of Varna. It consists of several groups of natural rock formations on a total area of 7 sq km (2.7 sq mi).
The formations are mainly stone columns between 5 and 7 metres (16-23 ft) high and from 0.3 to 3 metres (1-10 ft) thick. The columns do not have solid foundations, but are instead hollow and filled with sand, and look like they are stuck into the surrounding sands, which gives the phenomenon its name. In order to be preserved, Pobiti Kamani was designated a natural landmark in 1937.
10. Cappadocia, Turkey
The Cappadocian Region located in the center of the Anatolian Region of Turkey, with its valley, canyon, hills and unusual rock formation created as a result of the eroding rains and winds of thousands of years of the level, lava-covered plain located between the volcanic mountains Erciyes, Melendiz and Hasan as well as its troglodyte dwellings carved out of the rock and cities dug out into underground, presents an otherworldly appearance.
The eruptions of these mountains which were active volcanoes in geological times lasted until 4 thousands years ago. A soft tuff layer was formed, 150 m (500 ft) in thickness, by the issuing lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains. The rivers, flood water running down the hillsides of valleys and strong winds eroded the geological formations consisting of tuff on the plateau formed with tuff layers, thus creating bizarre shapes called fairy Chimneys. These take on the names of mushroom shaped, pinnacled, capped and conic shaped formations.
The area is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique geological, historic, and cultural features. Hot-air ballooning is very popular in Cappadocia and is available in Goreme. Trekking is enjoyed in Ihlara Valley, Monastery Valley (Guzelyurt), Urgup, and Goreme.