53 of the Most Colorful Landscapes in the World

They’re frequently featured on calendars and computer desktops, but beautiful landscapes often need to be seen in person to be believed. And while we can’t take you there physically, we can show you some of the most brightly colored landscapes out there. You’ll almost certainly recognize some, but many of them are hidden gems most people have never heard of.

Here’s our list of the world’s most colorful landscapes:

1. Lake Natron

Thanks to an extremely high concentration of cyanobacteria, Lago Natron is a bright, intense red in color.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Monduli, Tanzania
  • Size: 35 miles long
  • Age: About 5,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: Thanks to an extremely high concentration of cyanobacteria, this lake is a bright, intense red in color. The red comes from a pigment found in these salt-loving bacteria. The color of the lake will vary depending on depth; the outer edges are more orange and the center is bright red.

Lake Natron might be beautiful, but it’s pretty inhospitable for most animals. It can reach temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also extremely alkaline and will sometimes have a pH of 12. But Lake Natron does play one important role in the ecosystem; it is a breeding ground for the almost-endangered lesser flamingo. It’s also the only breeding area for these flamingoes in East Africa. There are a few fish species that manage to survive in the lake edges.

2. Danxia Landform

Striped rocks of Danxia Landform, Danxia Geopark, Zhangye, Gansu, China.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Gansu, China
  • Size: Spread over southeast, southwest, and northwest China
  • Age: Formation started about 80 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: This landform is one of the most colorful rocky areas in the world. The name translates to “red cloud.” These cliffs and mountains are made of red sandstone, limestone, and other layers of rock. They can be found in a few areas of China.

Many of the most colorful parts of this landscape can be found in China’s Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park. The striped rocks you see today are the result of millions of years of shifting tectonics along with very gradual erosion.

3. Ponza, Italy

White cliffs in Ponza form a beautiful contrast with the deep blue color beside them.
  • Type: Beach
  • Location: Pontine Islands, Italy
  • Size: About 5.5 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain, although it has been inhabited since neolithic times
  • Colorful feature: This island is renowned for its beautiful beaches. The most famous one, Chiaia di Luna, has curved white shores that seem to glisten in the moonlight.

Ponza is the largest of Italy’s Pontine Islands. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that its biggest industry is tourism. After all, its white cliffs form a beautiful contrast with the deep blue color beside them. Legend holds that the island was named for Pontius Pilate, although that theory has not been confirmed. However, there is a grotto on the island named after Pilate. Lots of people believe the island’s name may have simply evolved from the Greek word pontos. That word translates to “sea.”

4. Hormuz Island

Hormuz Island in the Hormuz straight is primarily a red-ochre color.
  • Type: Beach
  • Location: Hormuz, Iran, in the Persian Gulf
  • Size: 16 square miles
  • Age: More than 40,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This island is primarily a red-ochre color. That color contrasts beautifully with the deep blue water of the Persian Gulf.

This island’s natural color has been invaluable to artists and chefs for years. Hormuz Island has a large amount of reddish ochre, a pigment used to make paint and create certain culinary dishes. The island has been so targeted for ochre that it became very worn down. Now, the Iranian Department of the Environment has stepped in to protect it from further damage.

5. Attabad Lake

Panoramic view of the beautiful turquoise colour of Attabad lake in autumn in northern Pakistan.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Gilgit−Baltistan, Pakistan
  • Size: Up to 13 miles long
  • Age: Formed in January 2010
  • Colorful feature: As you can see from the photo, Attabad Lake is probably one of the most brilliantly colored lakes in the world. The plainness of the surrounding geography only makes it stand out more, although the occasional burst of green certainly adds some interest to the landscape!

Attabad Lake’s size and bright coloration have led to it being one of the main tourist attractions of Iran’s Gilgit−Baltistan. It’s a popular destination for fishing, boating, and more. The lake formed very recently; there was a landslide in 2010 that created what became Lake Attabad. The landslide killed 20 people and had long-lasting effects on residential areas and commerce.

6. Sea of Stars

A type of bioluminescent plankton known as Lingulodinium polyedrum fills the water.
  • Type: Natural phenomenon/body of water
  • Location: Vaadhoo, Maldives
  • Size: Throughout water
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This phenomenon only happens in the summer. A type of bioluminescent plankton known as Lingulodinium polyedrum fills the water. It moves with the waves, making it look like the sea is a sky full of white stars.

You can see this “Sea of Stars” phenomenon in various areas off the coast of the Maldives. But if you really want to see it, the best place to do so is Vaadhoo Island in the Raa Atoll. The Maldives is also surrounded by beautifully bright coral reefs, so there’s a beautifully colorful underwater landscape here, too!

7. Bagni San Filippo

This beautiful hot spring features several small waterfalls made from white calcium carbonate deposits.
  • Type: Waterfall
  • Location: Province of Siena, Italy
  • Size: Uncertain
  • Age: Formed at least before the 13th century
  • Colorful feature: This beautiful hot spring features several small waterfalls. Most are made from white calcium carbonate deposits. But sometimes other minerals are included, making waterfalls have dramatic streaks of green, red, yellow, tan, and more.

This striking hot spring has an especially meaningful name. It was named for St. Philip Benizi. He lived by the spring as a hermit at some point during the 13th century. Now, the spring is a great tourist attraction. If you’re up for a climb, you can take a short hike upward to find additional small pools above the waterfall portion.

8. Blue Moon Valley

Stunning aerial view of Blue Moon Valley Waterfalls in Lijiang, China.
  • Type: Waterfall
  • Location: Lijiang, China
  • Size: Uncertain
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: One of the most noticeable features of this valley is the bright turquoise water. That color comes from copper ions, and the water itself comes from melting snow high up in the Himalayas. The area is surrounded by lush valleys full of flowers, so the land adds even more color!

If you take a quick look at the picture above, you probably would think that the terraces were man-made. And while the Chinese government has stepped in on a couple of occasions, the terraces are largely natural. The river is an integral part of local legends; local people sometimes say that the color of the water comes from a raft that the gods rode on when they visited the valley.

9. Painted Dunes

Colorful painted dunes, lava beds, badland formation, and pine trees in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California during sunset.
  • Type: Dunes
  • Location: Old Station, California
  • Size: Total park area 166 square miles
  • Age: Much of the ash in the dunes accumulated between 1914 and 1921
  • Colorful feature: These stunning dunes look like they’re part of an expressionist painting. Their colors come from oxidation over time. As volcanic ash in the area oxidizes, it becomes the red and yellowish colors you see throughout the dunes.

When you hear “dunes,” you might picture the typical sand dunes found on the beach. However, these dunes were formed from volcanic ash. The painted dunes can be found at Lassen Volcanic National Park. This is an outstanding destination if you’re interested in volcanos, as it is one of the very few destinations where you can see all four kinds of volcanoes.

10. Lake Baikal

Winter Baikal, ice hummocks on a background of mountains.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Siberia
  • Size: 12,248 square miles
  • Age: About 25-30 million years
  • Colorful feature: This massive lake is among the clearest in the world. That said, when parts of it freeze, you can see a few different colors. As you can tell from the photo, some of the frozen lake looks like clear blue glass. Parts of the lake are flanked by foliage-sided mountains, so those nearby can see a burst of contrasting color.

Lake Baikal is large and clear. It is also one of the most ancient lakes in history. Because of its great size and impressive biodiversity, Lake Baikal is the subject of biological research. In many cases, governments of various countries want to conduct environmental research.

11. Red Beach

This is the biggest wetland featuring the red plant of Suaeda salsa in the world.
  • Type: Wetland
  • Location: Panjin City, Liaoning, China
  • Size: About 50 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Plenty of landscapes on the list are red. But many of those are lakes or bodies of water. The Red Beach is a marsh full of Suaeda salsa, a red plant able to thrive in alkaline soil.

You may not think of wetlands as being colorful. But China’s red beach offers miles of bright red marsh plants. Plus, it is a breeding area for the beautiful red-crowned crane. And if you plan to visit Red Beach, you may want to time your visit to the maturity of the plants. When the Suaeda salsa plant starts growing in April, it is a relatively light red. As it matures, it becomes darker and darker red.

12. Spring in the Netherlands

Panorama with colorful Dutch tulips in the field against a blue sky.
  • Type: Park/field
  • Location: Netherlands
  • Size: Happens across the Netherlands
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: During the blooming season (March through May), you can see incredible swaths of bright tulips in almost any color. Many of the tulips are grown in rows in fields, so the landscapes are covered with quilt-like designs of bright colors.

The Netherlands has become famous for many things, and one of them is the spectacular tulip blooming season. Across the nation, over 7 million tulip bulbs bloom. Often, they are planted in rows separated by color. As a result, the Dutch landscape appears to be marked with dazzling ribbons of color.

13. Glass Window Bridge

The turquoise waters of the Bight of Eleuthera are on one side. The deeper, darker blue of the Atlantic Ocean are on the other.
  • Type: Beach
  • Location: Eleuthera Island, Bahamas
  • Size: 110 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain, but it has been inhabited since the 1600s
  • Colorful feature: At this spectacular landmark, you can see vast areas of color. The turquoise waters of the Bight of Eleuthera are on one side. The deeper, darker blue of the Atlantic Ocean are on the other.

Once you hear the name of this landform, you might think it’s a human-created bridge. However, this narrow portion of the island of Eleuthera formed naturally. At its narrowest point, it is 30 feet wide! Your eyes will be treated to the white sand and foliage of land and the two shades of blue of the surrounding waters.

14. Kerid Crater Lake

Vibrant blue water, colored rocks, surreal fairytale landscape.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Grímsnes, Iceland
  • Size: 890 feet acrosss
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This lake may not be the only one in Iceland, but it’s certainly among the ranks of the most colorful. Much of that comes from the fact that its walls are made of red (rather than black) volcanic rock. This rock looks beautiful alongside the deep, otherworldly blue of the lake itself.

This beautiful crater lake sits along the Golden Circle in Iceland. This is a road that meanders through Iceland, reaching most of the most common tourist attractions. Scientists believe that this lake formed after a cone volcano’s eruption. When it ran out of magma, the volcano fell on itself, making the crater.

15. Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Landscape of white, yellow and pink rock formations at Interpretive Paint Mines in Colorado
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Calhan, Colorado
  • Size: About 1.2 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain; has been inhabited at least 9,000 years
  • Colorful feature: The strange-looking rock formations here have been sculpted by mining and erosion. You can see many layers of color, including white, red, orange, yellow, and more.

Both the paint and rock material found here have historically been useful for humans. The Apishapa people mined it for specialized pigments for painting pottery, as well as the clay to make pottery. These formations are part of a large, colorful landscape too, as Paint Mines Interpretive Park includes prairie, badlands, wetlands, and significant rock formations.

16. Fox Glacier

Close up of ice crevice against a blue sky with white clouds, Fox Glacier, New Zealand.
  • Type: Ice formation
  • Location: Fox Glacier, New Zealand
  • Size: 8.1 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: You might not think of a glacier as being colorful. But as you can see in the picture, the ice can take on a bluish hue. The bright white and clear blue create a pleasant contrast with the darker mountains nearby.

This glacier is one of New Zealand’s major tourist attractions. In the season of major tourism, around 1,000 visitors come to see it every day. The massive glacier includes trails for visitors to walk on, as well as ice caves that have a deep blue hue. You might not expect it, but there are also green rainforests fairly close to the glacier.

17. Red Lotus Lake (Lake Nong Han)

Beautiful lotus flower field at sunrise.
  • Type: Lake/wetland
  • Location: Lake Nong Han, Tambon Chiang Haeo, Thailand
  • Size: Over 12.5 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This stunning lake is filled with some of the most exquisite flowers on Earth. Blooming season starts in January. Seemingly overnight, the lake will be covered with both green and bright red and pink lotus flowers.

The incredible bloom of the Red Lotus Lake is something of a seasonal natural wonder. And while just about anyone would probably love to see the lake, it becomes especially crowded on Valentine’s Day. Couples try to take memorable pictures in front of the sea of red and pink.

18. Kaaterskill Falls

Large waterfall surrounded by vibrant fall foliage color.
  • Type: Waterfall
  • Location: Woodstock, New York
  • Size: 260 feet tall
  • Age: Likely about 12,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This beautiful waterfall has two separate “steps,” so you’ll see two cascades of silvery water. But Kaaterskill Falls is especially colorful in autumn, when the falls are surrounded by a sea of fall foliage.

You’ve probably heard of the Catskills in the northeastern United States. And if you love visiting waterfalls in quiet woodlands, this striking waterfall in the Cascades is a great place to visit. This waterfall has been featured in multiple fine art paintings, too. They include Kaaterskill Falls on the Catskill Mountains by William Guy Wall and Kindred Spirits by Asher Brown Durand.

19. Miharashi Hill

In the summer, the summer cypress bushes in this field turn from demure, everyday green to incredible, fiery red.
  • Type: Park/field
  • Location: Hitachinaka, Japan
  • Size: 1.4 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: In the summer, the summer cypress bushes in this field turn from demure, everyday green to incredible, fiery red. The red color has led to the summer cypress being called the “burning bush.”

The summer cypress is beautiful on its own, but there’s another colorful feature in Hitachi Seaside Park, home of this beautiful hill. The park is full of blooming cosmos flowers, too! Understandably, it’s an especially popular tourist destination in summer. However, it’s beautiful year-round!

20. Dongchuan Redlands

Dongchuan Redlands red soil earth fields Yunnan China.
  • Type: Soil/land formation
  • Location: Yunnan, China
  • Size: About 7.7 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This appropriately-named land terrace has iron-rich soil that has thoroughly oxidized, causing the deep red soil. The Redlands are full of red soil and green crops beneath blue sky, so the entire landscape almost looks like a painting!

Some people refer to the Redlands as “God’s magic palette.” It’s easy to see why. Unsurprisingly, this area is especially popular with people touring China. Since the area has a very high elevation, it usually experiences strong winds. Most locals will recommend that visitors bring warm clothes!

21. Lake Retba

Aerial view of the Pink Lake Retba or Lac Rose in Senegal.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Cap Vert Peninsula, Senegal
  • Size: About 1 square mile
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This unusual lake is pink in color thanks to a large presence of the algae Dunaliella salina. But that isn’t the only colorful feature; magenta samphire plants grow in the white sands near the shore!

Lake Retba is beautiful and unusual, but it also plays a very important role in the Senegalese economy. Senegal is Africa’s top salt producer, and that is largely thanks to the thousands of people who collect salt from it to sell. Each year, a total of about 38,000 tons of salt is collected.

22. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon at sunset, Iceland, Europe
  • Type: Lake/lagoon
  • Location: Iceland
  • Size: About 6.9 square miles
  • Age: About 60 years old
  • Colorful feature: Like most other glacier lakes and lagoons, this one has glimmering white ice with periodic hints of blue. But as you can see from the photo, the flat surface of this lagoon can reflect the unforgettable colors of the sunset!

Glacier lakes and lagoons are often full of cool-spectrum colors. But when it reflects the sunlight, this unique glacier lake can offer an unexpected burst of color. As formations go, this one formed pretty recently. But it’s still spectacular; you get an incredible view of the nearby ice cap that is 3,000 feet tall!

23. Huanglong Travertine Pools

Like most other travertine pools, this one has been formed by calcite deposits.
  • Type: Waterfall
  • Location: Sichuan, China
  • Size: 320 square miles (total site)
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Like most other travertine pools, this one has been formed by calcite deposits. It is sometimes called the Yellow Dragon, but the water in its pools is usually bright blue. This makes it look a bit like a dragon with yellow-lined blue scales.

These travertine pools alternately rest and pour over incredible natural terraces. So in order to ensure that it is protected from human influence, this area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. In the surrounding areas, you can find a whole host of endangered species, including giant pandas and golden snub-nosed monkeys.

24. Appalachian Mountains in Autumn

Autumn Colors at Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Eastern United States
  • Size: 1,500 miles long
  • Age: First formed about 480 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: In autumn, this mountain range is famous for its incredible foliage. In fact, some people refer to autumn as “leaf-peeping season,” as people come from all over the world to take in the foliage and all its fiery beauty!

This mountain range is part of the eastern U.S., where it crosses through a number of states. For those ambitious enough to take on the range, the Appalachian Trail runs from Maine to Georgia. But if you aren’t up for an extremely long hike, you can always hike a portion of the trail!

25. Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar rainbow mountains in Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland
  • Size: Total park area about 193 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Like some other sites on the list, this one sits within a nature reserve. Since it is at the edge of a lava field, it contains a variety of rocks and minerals. You might sometimes hear this area referred to as “rainbow mountains.” As you can see, they are colored in patches of yellow, green, red, and tan.

This portion of Iceland is one of the few collections of multicolored rocks called “rainbow mountains.” One of the trails goes to a part of the rocks whose name translates to “Sulphur Wave.” That name refers to the brilliant swath of yellow rock you can see in the picture.

26. Takinoue Park

Landscape with pink flowers on the mountain, in Takinoue, Hokkaido, Japan.
  • Type: Park/field
  • Location: Hokkaido, Japan
  • Size: About 0.004 square miles
  • Age: Town formed in 1918
  • Colorful feature: This park is famous for “Pink Moss.” Pink moss is simply a colloquial name for the flowering plant Phlox subulata. Its blooms are small and pink, so they give the impression that the ground is covered in pink moss.

The “pink moss” growing in this idyllic park is beautiful, but you can grow it in your own yard if you wish. It is native to the southern and eastern United States, but it can grow in some other climates. A single plan can cover an area of 20 inches, so it makes a good choice of ground cover. And pink isn’t the only color you can choose; you can also find this flower in mauve, white, and blue.

27. Elafonisi Beach

Pink sand beaches on Greek island of Crete.
  • Type: Beach
  • Location: Crete, Greece
  • Size: Total island area 0.58 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This beach has the stunning blue water of many Greek beaches. But it also has unique pink sand beaches! The pink color comes from microorganisms that make red pigment. When they wash up, they turn the sand pink.

No list of colorful landscapes would be complete without this idyllic beach. It’s located right by Crete, an island in the Mediterranean Sea (In terms of legality and administration, it is counted as part of Crete). The water separating them is shallow; on days when it is more shallow than usual, it’s possible to simply wade through the water to get from Elafonisi to Crete.

28. Paria River Canyon

Beautiful canyon striated with countless light and dark lines.
  • Type: Canyon
  • Location: Utah and Arizona, United States
  • Size: River is about 95 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Like many rock formations in the Southwest, this one is striated with countless light and dark lines. Some of this is due to wind erosion and some is due to water erosion.

This twisting, beautiful canyon is fun to look at, but it has other uses, too. The Paria River Canyon is popular with “canyoneers,” or people who explore canyons. Canyoneering involves using different methods of travel as needed. For example, one might use walking, climbing, and swimming to traverse a given canyon.

29. Spotted Lake

Water in the Spotted Lake  evaporates in the summer, leaving large, mineral-rich spots of color.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada
  • Size: 0.43 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain; has at least existed for several centuries
  • Colorful feature: This lake has deposits of several minerals: namely magnesium sulfate, sodium sulphates, and calcium. When much of the lake water evaporates in the summer, it leaves large, mineral-rich spots of color.

If you want to visit Canada’s Spotted Lake, summer is the best time to do so. That’s because as the lake water evaporates, mineral deposits harden and form walkways. However, the lake has now been fenced in to stop visitors from walking through it and causing potential problems.

30. Hornocal Mountains

Hornocal, Mountain of fourteen colors, Quebrada de Humahuaca, Northern Argentina.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
  • Size: About 665 square miles
  • Age: Formation began at or before 9000 B.C.
  • Colorful feature: The most colorful part of these mountains is the formation called Yacoraite. The mountains have patterning that looks like a set of upside-down V’s. Thanks to the many minerals present, these mountains appear to be streaked with green, red, black, yellow, and tan.

Though these mountains are easily one of the most spectacular landscapes on the list, they don’t enjoy the same level of fame as some other sites. In fact, the most colorful mountains here are off a path that not too many visitors travel. But it’s well worth the hike if you want to see some truly spectacular color!

31. Seven Rila Lakes

These seven lakes are a striking jewel blue in color, surrounded by green foliage and grey mountains.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Rila Mountain, Bulgaria
  • Size: Seven lakes total; largest is 0.03 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Like many glacial lakes, these seven lakes are a striking jewel blue in color. They are surrounded by green foliage and grey mountains, so the surrounding landscape is quite colorful, too.

Most of these quaint lakes have names that reference their size and/or their water clarity. Their names translate to “The Tear,” “The Eye,” “The Kidney,” “The Twin,” “The Trefoil,” “The Fish Lake,” and “The Lower Lake.” These lakes are a beautiful attraction for tourists, and there is a chalet where many of them stay at the edge of The Fish Lake.

32. Valley of Flowers

Purple, pink, and white wildflowers dotting the Valley of Flowers.
  • Type: Park/field
  • Location: India
  • Size: Total park area 33.8 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain; established as a park in 1980
  • Colorful feature: Much of this park is just as described; it’s a valley of flowers! You can see purple, pink, and white wildflowers dotting the fields. And above them are mountains carpeted in impossibly green foliage.

The Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But much of its beauty is unspoiled. That’s mostly because it’s fairly inaccessible. It takes a hike of over 10 miles to get in. But if you’re up for it, the hike will take you to a stunningly biodiverse area that few people have seen.

33. Maroon Bells

Maroon Bells sunrise in White River National Forest, Colorado.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Aspen, Colorado, United States
  • Size: Maroon Peak is 14,163 feet; North Maroon Peak is 14,019 feet
  • Age: Formation began about 300 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: As you can see from the picture, the Maroon Bells are surrounded by a sea of color. The sunlight can make the mountains look red or blue depending on the light, and the brilliant yellow aspen at their feet offers a stark contrast.

If you’ve spent any amount of time looking at nature photography, you’ve almost certainly seen a photo of the Maroon Bells. These mountains are also almost as popular to climb or visit as they are to photograph. The U.S. Forest Service has developed a permit system for camping and overnight stays in order to protect the area from overuse.

34. Okavango Delta

Aerial landscape of green vegetation in Okavango delta, Botswana.
  • Type: Wetlands
  • Location: Botswana, Africa
  • Size: 7,813 square miles
  • Age: About 60,000 years old
  • Colorful feature: This delta is somewhat swampy, but that does lead to some green wetland flora! And when viewed from above, the most watery part of the delta appears deep blue against the bright greenery.

This delta could be described as an oasis, as the surrounding climate is excessively dry. The Okavango Delta is a very wet, green area, but it’s still very close to the Kalahari Desert. It is home to more than 400 species of birds and to a whole host of land animals.

35. Lake Lucerne

Beautiful view of deep blue Lucerne lake in Switzerland.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Rigi, Switzerland
  • Size: Abouy 44 square miles
  • Age: Likely formed around 1,000 B.C.
  • Colorful feature: Lake Lucerne itself is quite beautiful, as it’s a very deep blue color. But that isn’t the only patch of color in the immediate area. As you can see, the fields surrounding it are divided into a quaint patchwork. Add in the view of the bluish Swiss Alps, and you get an unforgettably colorful landscape!

Part of the mystique of Lake Lucerne comes from its complex, meandering shape. It involves a few sharp turns and narrow passes, both of which are somewhat unusual for a lake. Lake Lucerne has been used as a venue for the European Rowing Championships, and it’s also a popular tourist destination for those interested in diving, windsurfing, and boating.

36. Namaqualand

Blooming wildflowers in the spring in Namaqualand, South Africa.
  • Type: Coastal region
  • Location: Namaqualand, South Africa
  • Size: About 170,000 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: As you can see from the photo, Namaqualand is an entire region that is bursting with color. Its wildflowers are bright orange, yellow, white, and pink, and its coast traces along the bright blue ocean.

Namaqualand is a beautifully unique part of South Africa. As an arid region with many semidesert areas, it includes flora and fauna you don’t see as often. The Namaqua National Park was designated to protect wildlife, and it’s home to over 3,500 species of flowers. More than a thousand of those species can’t be found anywhere else! 

37. Grand Prismatic Spring

High angle view of Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone National Park.
  • Type: Hot spring
  • Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, United States
  • Size: About 370 feet in diameter
  • Age: Uncertain; was noted by explorers in 1839
  • Colorful feature: The Grand Prismatic Spring appears to contain just about every color of the rainbow. Thanks to microbial “mats,” its edges are yellow, red, orange, and green. The center of the spring is a brilliant blue.

The Grand Prismatic Spring is probably the most famous hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. Its water is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s much too hot for people to bathe in. It’s estimated that the spring releases 560 gallons of hot water per minute!

38. Fields of Canola Flowers

Canola field, rapeseed flower field with the mist in Luoping, China.
  • Type: Park/Field
  • Location: Luoping, China
  • Size: Various
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: When viewed from above, these canola fields look like an especially bright impressionist painting. The seemingly unending yellow sea is broken up by the Hundred Thousand Hills that seem to sprout up from the flowers.

Chances are good that you’ve used canola oil at some point. It may have come from these bright fields! But the blooming season isn’t just a good time for farmers; photographers can find ideal material here. Beekeepers sometimes will even set up tents in the fields! Luoping is a relatively small town, but almost all of it is carpeted in sunny yellow blooms.

39. Yuanyang Terraced Rice Fields

Terraced rice fields in Laohuzui Yuanyang County.
  • Type: Park/field
  • Location: Yuanyang, China
  • Size: About 44 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Rice fields may not sound too exciting, but the still water and terrace formation creates an incredible, mirror-like reflection. And as you can see in the picture, these fields are often nestled in with green fields and red clay.

Growing rice is an important part of Chinese culture. And the terraces in Yuanyang are up in the mountains, so they appear to cascade down the slopes. Luckily, if you’re a professional photographer or just want to take in some natural beauty, they’re a great place to visit! You may even get to meet some of the Hani people, a peaceful group living in mushroom-shaped houses nearby.

40. Horsetail Fall

Yosemite Valley's rare firefall event gives the illusion of lava flowing.
  • Type: Waterfall
  • Location: Yosemite, California
  • Size: Longest drop is 1,570 feet
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This waterfall is kind of like nature’s version of special effects. For a brief time in February, when the light hits just right, the waterfall appears illuminated. It is sometimes called a “firefall” in this state. You can see this unbelievable phenomenon in the photo!

Make sure you don’t confuse this waterfall with similarly-named ones in Montana, Oregon, and Australia! Horsetail Fall isn’t the most powerful waterfall out there, but it has a dramatic drop that is fed either by melting snow or rain. The “firefall” phenomenon makes it a highly desirable destination for nature photographers. The phenomenon was first photographed in 1940 by Ansel Adams.

41. Sigiriya

Sigiriya Lion's Rock of Fortress in the middle of the forest in Sri Lanka.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Central Province, Sri Lanka
  • Size: About 590 feet high
  • Age: Formed around 477 A.D.
  • Colorful feature: Sigiriya is one of the most interesting features on the list. It is a naturally-formed rock with colorful striations, but it was chosen to be the site of an ancient fortress.

According to historical records, this odd rock was once a forest. After significant landslides, it was chosen by the Sri Lankan King Kashyapa as the building site for his castle. When it was eventually abandoned, it served as a Buddhist monastery. The present-day Sigiriya has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

42. Dallol Hot Springs

Hot springs bring minerals up to the surface and create fantastic colorful ponds and terraces at the Dallol volcano in Ethiopia.
  • Type: Hot spring/thermal system
  • Location: Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
  • Size: About 1.9 miles across
  • Age: Formation began in 1926
  • Colorful feature: This unique system of hot springs will shift somewhat in color based on oxidation levels. The springs can be bright yellow, electric green, turquoise, red, and deep blue.

The interesting name of this thermal system was coined by the native Afar people. “Dallol” means “disintegration” or “dissolution.” This describes how the ponds appear disjointed and odd-colored. There’s a lot of activity going on at this relatively new thermal system; geysers will pop up periodically, and salt canyons and pillars have begun to grow. There are also terraces reminiscent of some of the travertine terraces mentioned earlier on the list.

43. Laguna Colorada

Laguna Colorada de Uyuni, Reserva Eduardo Avaroa, Bolivia.
  • Type: Lake/lagoon
  • Location: Sur Lipez, Bolivia
  • Size: 23 square miles
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: The name of this strange lake translates to “red lagoon,” and it certainly lives up to the name. The lake might be more accurately described as being red and white. The water itself is reddish thanks to the presence of red-pigmented algae. But it is dotted with small white islands made almost entirely out of borax.

As we saw above, there are a few red lakes scattered across the world. This one, found in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, is a welcome shelter for different species. It’s not unusual to see a flock of Andean flamingos relaxing in the water. However, the most common flamingo you’ll see in Laguna Colorada is the bright and beautifully patterned James’s flamingo. Like most of the world’s reddish bodies of water, Laguna Colorada is a salt lake.

44. Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is somewhere between red and orange in color while also remaining translucent.
  • Type: River
  • Location: Palos de la Frontera, Spain
  • Size: About 62 miles long
  • Age: Formation may have begun as long as 300 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: Rio Tinto is one of the more unusual-looking colored bodies of water. It is somewhere between red and orange in color while also remaining translucent. As a result, it often looks like a flowing stream of amber.

As you may have guessed, the Rio Tinto gets its color largely from its iron-rich, highly acidic composition. The river doesn’t maintain its color throughout its entire length. It’s been important to the local economy for centuries: for about 5,000 years, it’s been a source for ore mining. It’s been a source of a range of valuable materials including silver, gold, and copper. The Rio Tinto is generally inhospitable to most forms of life. But as is the case with many unusual bodies of water, the river is home to a few tough species of algae and bacteria.

45. Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Punaluu black sand beach, Big Island, Hawaii.
  • Type: Beach
  • Location: Big Island, Hawaii
  • Size: Uncertain
  • Age: Formation began about 40 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: Descriptions of picturesque beaches often mention white sand. But this beach’s black sand is easily its most colorful feature. When viewed against the bright blue water and sky and the many rows of palm trees, it’s easily one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Hawaii is home to all kinds of unusual sights. Its black sand is caused by the volcanic rock basalt. The sand forms when lava hits water; it cools very quickly and then explodes. But the black sand isn’t the only unusual attraction here. On this rocky beach, you can find two types of sea turtles. One is the green turtle and the other is the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. You can often see them come to rest on the beach. It’s also useful to know that while the beach is beautiful, its general rockiness makes swimming dangerous.

46. Painted Hills

Colorful clay hills in the Painted Hills of Oregon.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Mitchell, Oregon
  • Size: About 5 square miles
  • Age: Formation began about 35 million years ago
  • Colorful feature: The name “painted hills” fairly accurately describes the color palette here. The hills are striated with a range of white, red, orange, yellow, and tan colors. The different colors mark different geological eras; they have been exposed by erosion.

Millions of years ago, the Painted Hills were a river floodplain. The layers of minerals serve as a kind of historical record, and the land around the hills is full of skeletons of horses, camels, and even rhinos from ancient times. Listed as one of Oregon’s Seven Natural Wonders, the Painted Hills are open year-round to visitors who want to see them firsthand.

47. Providence Canyon

Broad bands of white, red, orange, yellow, and tan in Providence Canyon Park.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Lumpkin, Georgia
  • Size: About 1.7 square miles
  • Age: Formation began in the early 1800s
  • Colorful feature: The clay-rich soil of Providence Canyon hasn’t just been exposed by natural erosion; its plunging gullies were largely caused by poor farming practice. Still, they let you see broad bands of white, red, orange, yellow, and tan.

At first glance, you might think Georgia’s Providence Canyon was a smaller Grand Canyon. It’s certainly geologically interesting, but it has a couple of unusual other quirks, too. First, it’s one of the few places you can find the extremely rare plumleaf azalea. The park surrounding the canyon also has a collection of several non-functioning 1950s cars. They are from an abandoned homestead. Experts believe that moving the cars would cause severe environmental damage, so they have opted to just leave them undisturbed.

48. Lake Koyashkoe

Pink salt lake with white shores in Lake Koyashskoe.
  • Type: Lake
  • Location: Kerch Peninsula, Crimea
  • Size: About 4.5 miles long
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Yet another pinkish-red lake, Lake Koyashkoe is one of the more hospitable ones when it comes to marine life. Brine shrimp and algae give the lake its pinkish color. And if water evaporates, the lake becomes even more red.

Lake Koyashkoe is protected by the Opukske Nature Reserve in Crimea. Crimea is claimed by the Ukraine and Russia, and it is right by the Black Sea. Only a very thin strip of land divides the sea from the lake, and the contrast between the red lake and the deep blue sea is incredibly striking. According to local people, the soil beneath the lake has great medicinal value, and it is often collected.

49. Cenote Ik-Kil

Lovely cenote with transparent turquoise waters and hanging roots.
  • Type: Sinkhole
  • Location: Xcalacoop, Mexico
  • Size: Over 130 feet deep
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This beautiful sinkhole looks like something out of a fairly tale. Its water is a deep, rich blue, and green vines hang down toward the water. And if you want to swim in it, a small staircase has been carved into the side. The light from above gently filters in, creating a tranquil oasis.

Sinkholes are certainly interesting places, but this one is truly special. It’s located on the Yucatan Peninsula where the Mayan civilization once thrived. In fact, researchers have dredged up bones and jewelry from the bottom of the sinkhole. From what they found, they determined that this was an ancient Mayan site used for sacrifices.

50. Krupaj Springs

Krupaj Springs in Serbia features a beautiful water spring with waterfalls and caves.
  • Type: Spring
  • Location: Milanovac, Serbia
  • Size: About 1,427 feet long
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This magical-looking spring is full of caves, little waterfalls, shade trees, and hanging vines. Parts of it include hot springs, and the water is a bright blue.

This is a truly unique spring, as it is a sort of hybrid between a hot spring and a stream. And people continue to find even more mysteries. A team of divers once went more than 400 feet beneath the water’s surface and found a truly spectacular maze of tunnels. Though it looks like a beautiful place to swim, be careful; the parts of the stream not close to the thermal springs are usually uncomfortably cold!

51. Los Pilones

A beautiful valley of two eroded mountains that flows into a river.
  • Type: Waterfall
  • Location: Cácetres, Extremadura, Spain
  • Size: Uncertain
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: This collection of blue-green pools often forms a series of tiny waterfalls. The bright green foliage offsets the blue water, and the surrounding stones are dark and smooth. And in spring, beautiful white or pink wildflowers just might make you feel as though you’re in a fable.

All of the lovely pools of Los Pilones came from one source: water rushing down the nearby mountains. And it’s a beautiful place to go if you’re looking for a focused workout or just a beautiful escape. You can run, walk, or bike by the pools. And if it’s warm enough out, the pools are a great place to cool off. Lots of visitors have reported running into herds of friendly goats as they hike alongside Los Pilones.

52. Looking Glass Rock

When the sun hits its granite face just right, it looks as though a mirror is reflecting the light.
  • Type: Rock formation
  • Location: Brevard, North Carolina, United States
  • Size: 3,969 feet tall
  • Age: Uncertain
  • Colorful feature: Looking Glass Rock is a bit like Horsetail Fall in that its color comes from how it interacts with the light. When the sun hits its granite face just right, it looks as though a mirror is reflecting the light. In addition, in fall, the colorful foliage contrasts starkly with the rock’s pale face.

This unusual rock formation is certainly a standout; it’s surrounded by the vast stretches of trees in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. It’s a great destination for the outdoor-minded. You can hike to the top, but the faces of the rock are also challenging enough to attract rock climbers. And with hundreds of climbing routes, it’s a mountain you can return to on a regular basis. This mountain is also an ideal place to take in spectacular panoramas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And interestingly enough, the top of the mountain is flat enough that it can even be a helipad!

53. San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds

Aerial photo of vivid red salt ponds at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Type: Pond
  • Location: Newark, California
  • Size: About 26 square miles
  • Age: Salt ponds were created around 1850
  • Colorful feature: These ponds are especially striking because they have such disparate colors despite being so close together. Many are magenta, yellow, and blue-green. The colors come from microorganisms. Each pond has a slightly different salinity level, so it attracts slightly different organisms.

Many of the hot springs and salt palms on the list have been in remote, wild areas. So it may come as a surprise that there is a whole collection of salt ponds right by San Francisco. However, these salt ponds aren’t all the way natural; most of them were initially wetlands. They were converted into salt evaporation ponds for commercial salt production. Somewhat recently, there has been a movement to try and restore the ponds back to their original wetland state. This is a process that takes both great care and a good amount of time.

Nature’s Brightly Colored Landscapes

So there you have it, a quick world tour of some of the brightest colors nature has to offer. And with these sites scattered across the world, you might be able to visit one near you soon!