Antarctica's eerie Blood Falls flows from the end of the Taylor Glacier into ice-covered Lake Bonney. The water comes from a buried saltwater reservoir rich in iron. The liquid oxidizes at the surface, giving it that gruesome hue. At left, a tent provides a sense of scale.
Rivers have their own way of meandering through the world. The Colorado River meanders in spectacular fashion at Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona. An overlook 1,000 feet above the river provides a sinuous view.
The Dallol hydrothermal field is northeast of the Erta Ale Range in one of the lowest and hottest areas of the desolate Danakil Depression in Ethiopia. The Dallol craters are the Earth's lowest known subaerial volcanic vents. Salty hot springs featuring a rich palette of colors dot the area. There are hot yellow sulphur fields among the white salt beds.
Bubble gum-pink Lake Hillier is a nearly 2,000-foot-wide lake on Middle Island, the largest of the Recherche island chain in the state of Western Australia. The remote lake is accessible via plane or boat excursion from nearby Esperance. The cause of the Lake Hillier's color isn't fully known. A high level of salinity and dye-producing bacteria are possible sources of the distinctive hue.
The Rio Tinto in southwestern Spain runs through a mineral-rich area that has been mined for thousands of years. Iron deposits in the water give the river its reddish color.
The Kimberley region of Western Australia is home to the Horizontal Falls. Twice a day, a tidal variation of up to 10 meters empties and fills two adjacent narrow gorges in Talbot Bay, creating gushing "pinch rapids."
Located near the city of Osoyoos in British Columbia, the mineral-rich Spotted Lake contains high levels of magnesium sulfate, calcium and sodium sulphates. In the summer, most of the lake's water evaporates, revealing a bed of mineral deposits.
Called "The Liquid Rainbow" and "The River of Five Colors," Colombia's Caño Cristales River puts on a splashy show each year between July and November. An eruption of colorful algae brings a predominantly blood-red color to the river when the water levels are right. Guides offer tours of the area, which is part of the national park Sierra de La Macarena in the department of Meta.
The largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Prismatic Spring in Wyoming is about 300 feet (90 meters) across and 165 feet (50 meters) deep. At 188 degrees Fahrenheit, the bright blue water at the center of the pool is too hot to support life, but bacteria and algae thrive along the edges. The heat-loving bacteria produce orange, yellow and red pigments as a natural sunscreen, creating the spring's psychedelic look.
This colorful curiosity in Black Rock Desert in Washoe County, Nevada, is largely unknown because it's not open to the public. But the owners of Fly Geyser do offer occasional tours, and it's visible from the road. Evidently a man-made accident, this formation grew after a hole drilled in the Earth began to spew geothermally heated water. The resulting buildup is this fantastic fountain.
Lake Natron along the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania is extremely salty, hot and inhospitable to most plants and animals. However, flamingos and other wetland birds thrive here alongside a species of alkaline tilapia and the salt-loving microorganisms that give the water an otherworldly red hue.
At the foot of the half-submerged volcano El Golfo, Lago Verde is a green lagoon filled with minerals and micro-organisms. The striking body of water is located on the island of Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands.