The Great Blue Hole, Belize 1. The Great Blue Hole From the air, the Great Blue Hole of Belize resembles an otherworldly maw, int...

The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth

The Great Blue Hole, Belize

1. The Great Blue Hole
From the air, the Great Blue Hole of Belize resembles an otherworldly maw, intent on drinking down the surrounding Lighthouse Reef Atoll. In reality, the 1,000-foot (305-meter) wide hole is simply a sinkhole in the ocean. Geologists believe that an underlying cave system collapsed under increased pressure some 10,000 years ago due to rising sea levels.

2. Subterranean Splendor
The hill country of Kentucky's Green River Valley certainly has its charms, but beneath its gentle woodlands there is an underworld. More than 390 miles (628 kilometers) worth of caves worm through the rocky depths, making Mammoth Cave the largest known cave system in the world.

3. Devils Tower
When an enormous column of rock towers 1,267 feet (386 meters) above the surrounding landscape, people take notice. That's why Teddy Roosevelt declared Devils Tower America's first national monument, and Steve Spielberg decided to land a UFO on top of it in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Long before either man thrust the natural landmark into the spotlight, more than 20 Native-American tribes held the site sacred -- including the Lakota people who dubbed it "Bear Lodge."

4. The Fairy Chimneys
You want a fantastic real-world locale? It's hard to improve upon the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia in central Turkey. Here, tall spires of stone dot the landscape like some manner of bizarre growth. What's more, early Christians carved countless storerooms, stables and domiciles into the fairy towers from the 4th to the 11th century. 

5. The Forest of Knives
Madagascar is truly a lost world. Cut off from the rest of the world, the island's lemur population thrived (they don't exist anywhere else on the planet, except in captivity), and a host of unique life forms evolved in relative isolation. Yet Madagascar's geology also stands apart from the rest of the world's -- especially the region known as Tsingy de Bemaraha.

6. The Crystal Caverns
Nearly 1,000 feet (305 meters) beneath Mexico's Naica silver mine you'll find a chamber of unearthly wonder. Here in Cueva de los Cristales (the Cave of Crystals), 36-foot (11-meter) obelisks of solid crystal lay heaped about like fallen pillars in a dilapidated temple. 

7. The Reflecting Desert
Earth's vast, barren expanses are often as awe-inspiring as its highest peaks and deepest valleys. Just consider the Bolivian Uyuni Salt Flats, or Salar de Uyuni, a 4,000-square-mile (10,360-square-kilometer) plane of what appear to be hexagonal tiles. This extraordinary high-altitude landscape stretches among the snow-peaked Andean mountains, and if you happen to visit during the rainy season, you're in for quite a sight.

8. Fog-shrouded Peaks
You'll find no shortage of breathtaking vistas on the Greek peninsula, but the Meteora rock formations truly take the cake. These massive sandstone fingers seem to emerge as much from a dream as from the plains of Thessaly. Towering as high as 2,044 feet (623 meters) above lush landscape below, the steep peaks of Meteora are a perfect setting for a secluded monastery.

9. The Crack of Silfra
Conflict is the meat of great storytelling. You might prefer such tropes as man-versus-nature or man-versus-blue-aliens, but the best geological drama often unfolds when tectonic plates duke it out, especially continental plates. Travel to Iceland, however, and you'll find a most curious occurrence on the boundaries of the North American and European plates.

10. Uluru the Monolith
In "Avatar," a noble, indigenous people fight to protect their sacred landmarks against an invading culture. If you're pining for that sort of drama, then look no further than Australia's Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Here you'll find mighty Uluru, one of the largest geologic monoliths in the world.