The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit

Whether you're hiking the Swiss Alps, riding a camel through the deserts of Cairo, or rafting the Grand Canyons Colorado River, there are many places in the world that evoke a sense of surrealism. Having travelled extensively for the past couple of years I've been fortunate enough to visit such surreal places.

They are not only captivating because of their sheer sense of physical beauty, but also because they evoke emotion. This list is composed of surreal places that I've visited within the last year as I've explored the United States.

DEATH VALLEY, CA

The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit
The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit

HOTTEST PLACE ON EARTH

Holding the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded at 134 °F, it's no wonder why they call it Death Valley. It's one of the most extreme environments on earth with an average rainfall of less than three inches, and some years of none. That's even shocking for us Californians. Despite its record droughts a great diversity of life manages to survive in the valley; like your occasional wildflower seen sprouting through the ground, or a lush oasis harboring tiny fish and refuge for wildlife.

Death Valley grew in popularity during the California Gold Rush, with the influx of prospectors crossing the valley on their way to the gold fields. Many of which died, leading to a disappearance of civilization from this area. It's easy to spot this past once you've stumbled upon the thousands of abandoned mines, which only adds to the allure of this place!

GRAND CANYON, AZ

The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit
The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit

GEOLOGICAL WONDER

Probably one of the most well-known places on earth and the first national park that I've ever visited. It's what opened my eyes to the immense beauty that the world has to offer and has become one of my favorite places to visit around the world. There's no words to describe the feeling you get as you’re overlooking millions of years of natural history. Vast, magnificent and inarguably beautiful, the Grand Canyon is easily Arizona’s most distinguishable landmark. A natural wonder that you simply have to see to believe.

ANTELOPE CANYON, AZ

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

THE CORKSCREW

The immense Navajo Nation has no shortage of surreal places, but the most popular and photogenic might be Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon — just outside Page, Arizona. They are a testament to the power of water and time, as over the years, flash flooding has created deep, gorgeous passageways known as slot canyons.

Upon entering you quickly realize why it's known as a harmonious and spiritual experience. It's even compared to entering a cathedral by many Navajo. The 600 foot long stretch of Upper Antelope Canyon, also known as the Corkscrew, is the more popular of the two canyons. It's visible sun beams are sought after by photographers and have been featured in countless publications.

BRYCE CANYON, UT

The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit
The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit

HOODOO HEAVEN

Despite its name, it's not a canyon, but rather a collection of giant natural amphitheaters. For millions of years water and wind have frozen and thawed, carving into the plateau endlessly creating the park’s distinctive red rock pillars, called hoodoos, and into the park’s collection of natural amphitheaters.

Every year, Bryce Canyon National Park awes visitors with spectacular geological formations and brilliant colors. The towering hoodoos, narrow fins, and natural bridges seem to deny all reason or explanation, leaving all who visit astonished. This surreal landscape is why people from all around the world visit Bryce Canyon.

YELLOWSTONE, WY

The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit
The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit

GEYSERS GALORE

It’s the first National Park in the United States and considered to be the first national park in the world. It's known for its wildlife and many geothermal features — especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. The park is situated over the largest super-volcano on the continent and it’s still considered to be active. Half of the world’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area, making it other-worldly.

The park is also the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone. From the geysers and hot springs to the lakes, forests, and wildlife; Yellowstone National Park will blow your mind!

SALTON SEA, CA

The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit
The 6 Most Surreal Places You Need To Visit

APOCOLYPTIC VIBES

It's California's largest lake in the middle of its biggest desert. That's not even the surreal part! This strange place, located just one hour south of Palm Springs, was once a booming resort area in the 1950s. A once clear blue inland sea and a year-round hot climate within a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles and San Diego made it irresistible for entrepreneurs.

The explosive growth of nearby Palm Springs caught the interests of developers who envisioned the Salton Sea as a “Desert Lake Tahoe” or a “Palm Springs on the Beach.” By 1960, several multi-million dollar marinas and yacht clubs had sprung up around the shoreline. The Sea had more visitors than Yosemite through the 1950s and 60s. Even the Rat Pack hung out at Albert Frey’s North Shore Yacht Club, a sophisticated modernist classic with a nautical theme. The Salton Sea was the happening place to be, until it took a downward spiral! Farmers were dumping irrigation runoff water into the sea creating a rise in salt and chemicals. The only thing left of its glamorous past are abandoned trailers, shores riddled with dead fish, and a single bar.

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About The Author

In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.