It’s hard to believe that this collection of colorfully striped mountains is real. Sure, some amount of photo manipulation may have awoken the rich hues, but even the un-retouched images paint a pretty picture. Located in China’s Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, these “rainbow mountains” are yet another wondrous example of what Mother Nature can create. The formations’ stripes are most vivid after a rainstorm or as the sun enters or leaves the sky.
With enough time, anything is possible–even this 400-square-kilometer section of striped mountains. 24 million years ago, red sandstone and mineral deposits formed layers that compressed and underwent metamorphism, speckling the Chinese landscape with a “layer cake” of blues, reds and yellows. Erosion worked against the formation, carving cliffs, valleys and natural pillars into the earth, adding the array of textures and patterns that now characterize the region’s mountains.