The three most beautiful places on Earth

I have by no means traveled all over the globe, but I’ve probably traveled more widely than most people, and have made a deliberate attempt to seek out spots highly touted for their beauty. There’s a lot more for me to see—I’d like to go to Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Pacific Islands like Bali, for instance—but today I feel inclined to list the three most stunning sights I’ve seen in my life:

  1. The Himalayas, including Mount Everest and Ama Dablam, seen from the Tengboche Monastery, which sits atop a big hill in the Solo Khumbu region of Nepal. There’s a wide gap between this (and the Himalayas as whole) and #2:
  2. The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru viewed from the mountain Huayna Picchu that soars right above the ruins.
  3. The Taj Mahal by night under a full moon, when the whole marble structure seems to float above the ground like a giant, pale-blue sculpted pearl.

Here are some photos taken from the Internet; my own photos are on slides, taken in pre-digital days, and I can’t reproduce them here.

Tengboche Monastery. Ama Dablam is to the right, while Everest is  (photo from Himalayan Wonders) the small triangle (with the snow plume blowing off the peak) about a quarter of the way from the right. The monastery has a rudimentary guesthouse where you can stay for almost nothing. This is by far my favorite place in the world (so far); one cannot begin to describe how high and majestic these mountains are compared to the many other big peaks I’ve seen.


Huayna Picchu rising above the ruins (picture from Wikimedia)


The view of the ruins from Huayna Picchu. It’s far more glorious than you can judge from the photo (from Wikimedia). All around the ruins you see uninhabited mountains, making the ruins seem marvelously isolated, as they indeed were. Of course civilization is not making incursions into the area, which one has to reach by train from Cuzco.


This photo (from Top Images) may be Photoshopped or otherwise altered, and the moon isn’t full, but this is what I remember the structure looking like, especially the illusion of the tomb’s levitation:


And of course this post is calling for readers to name their “most beautiful spots.” Feel free to list a few of yours below.



  1. kieran
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    The burren

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      I’ve (through the years) been to Bermuda, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, up and down the west coast, Vancouver, Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, NY, NJ, Rhode Island, Conn.
      Pa, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin W. Va.
      VA. DC, NC, SC, Ga, Fla, Why. ND, SD, Montana, Idaho, state of Washington, Nevada, Az, NM, Col. Utah and Brasov Romania (Transylvania)

      My top three are Havasu Falls in Arizona, the Highlands of Scotland, and Transylvania.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink


  3. Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The Grand Canyon has to be right up there.

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      I’ve (through the years) been to Bermuda, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, up and down the west coast, Vancouver, Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, NY, NJ, Rhode Island, Conn.
      Pa, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin W. Va.
      VA. DC, NC, SC, Ga, Fla, Why. ND, SD, Montana, Idaho, state of Washington, Nevada, Az, NM, Col. Utah and Brasov Romania (Transylvania)

      My top three are Havasu Falls in Arizona, the Highlands of Scotland, and Transylvania.

  4. Rachel
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    The western highlands of Scotland.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Shhh. Don’t mention the midges!
      Actually, do mention the midges. They’re similar enough to Drosophila that they’ll probably make PCC feel at home.

  5. Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the last photo is an heavily edited composite.

    I don’t think I’d describe those places as the most beautiful, but rather some of the most spectacular.

    It’s awfully beautiful where I am right now, in the middle of a Phoenix suburb, with gray skies and downpouring rain and crashing thunder. I’ve got the doors open (and screen doors closed), with Baihu sitting on the threshold in back watching the rain.

    Just a couple miles away is Phoenix South Mountain Park, which is positively gorgeous — though, to be fair, many would only see “barren” gravel and thorny weeds. But open your eyes and the beauty is breathtaking.

    Not all that far away, of course, we have our own spectacle, the Grand Canyon. It’s a great way to expand your horizons, to to speak. You can almost begin to start the process of grasping the scale of the planet there — and the planet, of course, is an incomprehensibly insignificant spec of nothing whatsoever…and yet, it’s still mind-blowingly beautiful.

    Oh — can’t forget. Most places on Earth, you’re typically no more than several hours away from a view of the absolutely most stunningly beautiful star in the entire Universe, though you don’t want to actually look at it directly else you’ll go blind….


    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      “though, to be fair, many would only see “barren” gravel and thorny weeds. But open your eyes and the beauty is breathtaking”.

      Yes, I agree. Many of the places that sprang to my mind would not look anything special in a single landscape photo but are nonetheless magical places full of life of all kinds.

      A Welsh oak woodland would be a good example.

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

        Plenty of heart stirring places in North Wales for me: a woodland walk near Dolgelly, the Mawddach estuary walk, random back roads where cloud hangs low on sheep-dotted hillsides.
        Some of my best memories out of 40+ countries on 5 continents.

    • Genghis
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Very heavily photoshopped. A daylight image made to look like night and the with a composite moon.

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        Coincidentally enough, I might actually be able to figure out how to make a photo in the daytime and really truly render it exactly as you would perceive it under a full Moon in the same position as the Sun…if you know the spectral response of your camera and have the ability to make one or two additional measurements with a spectrometer and know the right kind of math, it should all basically work out….


        • rickflick
          Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          I’d think, before you went too far though you’d want to make sure the moon was in a position to actually illuminate the building. This one shows the moon 300,000 km beyond the building lighting up the “dark side” of the building. Well, I suppose this shot is possible with a big enough mirror. But it from here the building would be in silhouette which kind of defeats the purpose.

          • Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            Oh, absolutely. What I was trying to describe is a colorimetric rendering of the scene; rather than look like it was lit by the Sun, it’d look like it was lit by the Moon. I wasn’t trying to describe doing a copy / paste of an image of the Moon into the scene…the parallel would be to include the Sun in the frame. But to get that to look realistic, you’d then need to do a lot of reconstruction of the sky before you could even think about pasting an image of the Moon into the location of the Sun, by which point it’d be a lot less work to just wait for the right time of month to photograph the actual scene.

            …am I making sense?

            Um…the photo here has a very strong blue overlay applied to it, as if there was a glue gelatin filter in front of the lens. That’s a very rough approximation of what a moonlit scene looks like. What I should be able to do is take a regular photo and, instead of rendering the colors the way they actually are, render the colors the way they would look under a different light source. This is all using colorimetry, including spectrographic measurements (or approximations) of the actual illuminant in the scene and the illuminant to simulate, combined with the spectral sensitivity of the camera’s sensor and the (standardized typical) spectral sensitivity of the human eye.


            • rickflick
              Posted August 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

              Yes, I think what you are describing could be done. After all, color and shade are just wavelengths and intensities.
              To take things one step further, once you have a technically accurate image, I would want to manipulate it in many subtle ways to take it out of reality and into art. Art means having an interpretation and for me just being at the right place and time wouldn’t feel like enough. The Taj Mahal, after all is many things including the subject of dreams and legends.

              • Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

                To take things one step further, once you have a technically accurate image, I would want to manipulate it in many subtle ways to take it out of reality and into art.

                If that’s the goal, starting with something colorimetrically correct doesn’t really gain you anything save lots of unnecessary headaches. Might as well go straight to the realization of your vision without the side trip.

                There’re other elements to art that can be attained without altering reality. A photograph is a representational two-dimensional slice of our four-dimensional world; simply choosing those precise bits of just those two dimensions is already an artistically creative challenge. Why that time, place, and perspective and not some other?

                Also, uniqueness is generally valued in art…and basically nobody else is going for colorimetric rendition — they’re all looking for their own “many subtle ways to take it out of reality.”

                Even by restricting myself to the goal of colorimetric accuracy, there’s still lots of room for creativity. Do I render the scene as viewed with the actual illuminant of the scene, or as the scene would appear under the D50 (or D65) standardized theoretical illuminant used as the reference point for computer imagery, or as some other illuminant entirely? There are long-exposure techniques you can use to remove dynamic objects such as people and cars from a scene…imagine such an image, made during broad daylight of a colorful downtown location, rendered to appear as if the illuminant wasn’t sunlight but a giant fluorescent blacklight in the sky….



              • rickflick
                Posted August 11, 2015 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

                “There’re other elements to art that can be attained without altering reality”
                I could quibble a bit and say any photo is an abstraction and thus is already an alteration of reality. But I get your drift.
                By alteration I am thinking of my own taste, which runs close to realism. I would love to start with an image you created. When you refine this technique of yours, send me an example and I’ll have a good time tweaking it.

              • Posted August 11, 2015 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

                Will do. Once I’ve got stuff I’m happy with I’ll let Jerry know, and he’ll hopefully post something, which would be a good cue for you to remind me if I forget….


  6. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    The Okovango Delta, Botswana.

  7. Brujo Feo
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The Trollstigen in Norway would have to be right up there:

    Of course, when I saw it, I was on a motorcycle, so…

    • Robert Seidel
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      You should talk with my father – he burned one life there when his motorcycle slipped away from under him in one of those bends …

  8. Pete
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Big Bend National Park, Texas. In particular, watching the sunset from the south rim of the Chisos Mountains. Spectacular views, no people.

    But, then, I have never been to any of the three mentioned above.

    • Ken Elliott
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      One of my favorite all time memories, Spring Break 1978, backpacking through Big Bend, drinking water from hollowed out bowls in large boulders. It was incredible.

  9. Randy Schenck
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Have been to many places and lived in several as well. Nothing like the three places mentioned in the posting. I’ll just mention a few where I have lived…

    Kaneohe, Hawaii – Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, Pearl Harbor, Punchbowl National Cemetery

    Okinawa, Japan – Peace Park Okinawa, Gyokusendo Cave Okinawa

    Lakenheath, England – Ferry Cross Channel, Dover to Calais. Ferry Cross the Mersey, Liverpool

    I live about as far from the ocean as you can get but I’ve seen a lot of water.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      The Hawaiian Islands. Done. Spend multiple lifetimes and still will not see it all.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        Yes, lots to see and several Islands if you get there. I saw lots of the big Island which had much more room and less people than Oahu, that was really crammed even in the 80s. First time I bought a house, actually condo, was in Hawaii. Only place I ever lived with no heat or air conditioning. Windward side of Oahu you did not really need either.

  10. Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t been nearly as many places but, as a geologist, my list would include: the Appalachian Valley & Ridge province from the air, the I-70 roadcut in CO & associated dino. footprints around the corner, and the Canadian Rockies.

    BTW: Many scanners come with an attachment that allows jpg or other computer-readable files from both negatives and slides. It can be tedious but it does give more flexibility in their use.

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Many scanners come with an attachment that allows jpg or other computer-readable files from both negatives and slides. It can be tedious but it does give more flexibility in their use.

      If you’ve got a large cache of film (in whatever format) that you’ll scan once, it’s almost guaranteed to make more sense to find a service that’ll do it for you. They’ll have much better equipment and knowledge of what to do with it, and you may well spend less on the service than you would on a good scanner. Then there’s all your time you’re not wasting on the tedium of scanning….


      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink


        All true; but I have mixed feelings. I’ve had originals come back from services with thumb prints on them that I never would have believed (of the service) going in.

        The time was a serious issue; but the scanning time overlapped with the selection time (I had a pretty good workstation set up) and I would have had to do the selection anyway.

        It was tedious of course. But in some ways, it was a way to reconnect with photography, my old images, and images from my youth (my Dad’s slides and color films and old prints). Big project; happy to have it behind me (I scanned all of my images, B&W and color negatives and slides, that I thought worth caring about (and then archived them in three different places). It also taught me what mattered to me in scanning (settings, dpi for various media, etc.).

        However, I still have my Dad’s B&W negatives to tackle, which I consider to be a retirement project. Unless you can suggest a good and reliable service out there that does 35mm and 6cm B&W negatives really well (and at a reasonable cost). Any assistance would be much appreciated. Cheers,

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        My scanner is an EPSON V500 perfection which will provide (beautiful) resolution well beyond what the lens + film could do. It was only about $150.

        (At 6400 dpi, you get about 9 pixels for each grain on KR64. I typically did 2400 dpi, which gives plenty of resolution with Kodachrome for almost any use. A few really special images got the 6400 dpi treatment.)

        • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Yeah…but there’s still the time it takes to do the scanning at the least. And it takes a lot of knowledge and calibration and additional equipment to optimize color capture and exposure and the like. If you haven’t made an ICC profile from an IT8 target on the same film stock you’re not even in the ballpark, and that’s before we get to questions of flat-field normalization, dark calibration, and all the rest.

          If you’re happy with the results, they’re obviously by definition “good enough.” And pretty much any name-brand scanner these days is easily going to be “good enough” for most people for most purposes.

          But, then again, a Starbucks K-Cup coffee is “good enough” for most people….


          • Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            Yes, certainly not perfect; but good enough. To provide beautiful images, big prints that make me happy (better than any others I’ve ever had — made by services), very nice online photos.

            I was able to “save” many KR64 slides that were slightly off exposure (both ways) and make very nice images of them. Again, not perfect; but I never would have projected the originals for anyone but myself and the scanned/adjusted versions are dandy.

            After reading all of Adams’ books (long ago) I gave up on the idea of exactitude or perfection and just went for what looks good to me. (I like sharpness and I don’t want the image to look obviously manipulated. Composition is most important to me. And often the quality of the light.)

      • darrelle
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        I’d appreciate any help on finding a good service for converting color slides to digital.

        • Randy Schenck
          Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          Few years back I had slides converted to digital using

          There are several on the net

          • darrelle
            Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

            Thank you.

        • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          I don’t have any personal experience with any, so I’ll instead describe how I’d find one…

          …which is pretty simple. I’d call up Tempe Camera, which is the last remaining serious go-to professional photography store in the area. They have an imaging department that almost certainly would take the job and thus would be the ones I’d go with. If not, I’d go with whomever they recommend.

          If you don’t know your area’s professional photography store, find the most expensive two or three local wedding photographers in the area and ask them.


          • darrelle
            Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

            Thanks Ben.

      • rickflick
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        I have spent many hours scanning old negs, prints, and slides, mainly with the Epson Perfection 4990. Lots more resolution than I’d ever need. I have to dial it back.
        But I do have the time.

  11. Mark Russell
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Almost any spot in Yosemite National Park. The view from Glacier Point is amazing but I almost prefer the meadow beside El Capitan. A wondrous place.

    • EvolvedDutchie
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      I agree with this. The Sierra Nevada mountain range is breathtaking.

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Concur. Hard to pick a “best” spot. The over the mountain from Yosemite towards Fish Camp in fresh snow was not “it”, however.


  12. Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the Taj photo is clearly photoshopped (I think you know you’ve made in the SW industry when the name of your SW becomes a verb!)

    Look at the shadows on the moon and the building. Clearly inconsistent.

    Also, you’d never get both in those exposures at the same time (no direct light on the Taj, moon not hugely over-exposed).

    And the perspective of the Taj photo cannot possibly add up with the size of the moon. If the moon was taken within the Taj photo (which may well be a composite itself*) it would be a small pure-white discoid (and lit from the left, not the right), not a big, looming planetoid. If the perspective were right for the moon as shown, it would be a long telephoto lens which would yield a very flattened perspective.

    Wide-angle perspective:

    Long Telephoto perspective:

    (only global adjustments, no PS)

    long-tele perspective – city scape

    (* The Taj photo looks like a daylight shot, highly modified in PS. Look at the parts of the building in shadow: E.g. the front portico and the walls inside large windows in front: These would not be lit that way under moonlight (where there’s ~zero scattered light illuminating shadow areas). I’d guess it was a sunlit shot, masked blue, contrast muted, exposure turned way down.)

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      The easiest way to spot an altered Moon in photos such as this one is the color of the Moon, which should be the same as the color of the sky. And, in a moonlit scene, as this pretends to be, anything neutral-colored is going to be the same color as the Moon as well — in exactly the same way that a white piece of paper is going to look red when you point a red-gelled light at it. Those kinds of mismatches stand out like a sore thumb once you know to look for them.

      The artist in this case was clearly trying to re-create a remembered visual perception of the scene and did well enough, so I can’t fault the artist. And actually making an accurate photograph would require skills damned few photographers are even vaguely aware of and the artistic skill to paint or otherwise render the scene would also be a challenge.

      But, whilst the artist fell far short in terms of absolute perfection, the artist also clearly succeeded in the primary goal of evoking a sensation of what the Taj Mahal looks like in the moonlight, as evidenced by Jerry’s own endorsement — which, again, I’m assuming was the entire point of the exercise to begin with.


      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, you can do some very cool stuff in PS.

        And some really goofy stuff. I pasted my wife into a photo of her class, then added her legs from a vacation photo (after flipping them horizontally). No great achievement obviously; but it was good for laughs both at home and with her class! And it worked!

        • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          Probably worth mentioning that I’m rapidly transitioning away from Adobe products to those of Serif, especially Affinity Photo:

          It’s got the same feature set as Photoshop. Where it differs, Affinity Photo’s implementation is superior. And it’s dramatically faster. And only costs $50….


          • Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, Ben,

            What’s getting me now about Adobe is that they want you to pay a subscription monthly for their SW and own (oops, I mean hold in the cloud for you) your files.

            I didn’t upgrade PS since PS5 or LR since LR3, and I may just sit pat. I’m not an intense user of PS (by any means) — I usually use Elements unless I am printing.

            This issue just came up for me as I recently picked up a 4/3 camera and its RAW files (.orf) are not supported by LR3. Luckily, Adobe does make a free DNEG converter which does support .orf and works nicely. Soooo, no LR6 for me … But, one more step in the workflow (well, two really, with deleting the redundant DNEGs after importing — there’s probably a way to avoid that; but I don’t know it yet.)

            I’ve heard pretty mixed things about serif SW. What do you think? Is it a big learning curve after the Adobe SW? Is it stable? I was particularly wondering about their web authoring SW, WebPlus Xn.

  13. darrelle
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Big mountains have given me many special moments. Several places / times in both the Austrian and Bavarian Alps.

    One particular early morning at Monarch in Colorado. I was one of the first on the lift to the top. The view from the Continental Divide trail at the top of the ski area was just spectacular. 20 inches (1/2 meter) or so of fresh powder had fallen during the night. Crystal clear skies. Blazing bright sun just above the peaks to the east. 12,000 + foot (3,700 meters) peaks close all around. Not another soul to be seen or heard. Seemingly the entire world falling away to either side of me.

  14. Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Most beautiful places I’ve been:

    Canadian Rockies
    Norway’s Fjordlands
    Southern Utah’s canyon country

    The Cinqueterre
    The vineyards of the southern Rhone
    The North Cascades
    The redwood groves of northern California
    The Olympic Mountains of Washington state
    Almost anywhere in New Zealand
    The Columbia River Gorge
    The Alaska Range
    The village of Séguret
    The Cordillera Cantabria

    I could go on and on …

    • eric
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Second Muir woods.

      Lake Tahoe in winter, from the north side(though the scenery is marred by the development, its still beautiful).

      Jerry’s choice of Macchu Piccu is a good one; that whole area is filled with great vistas. I have some good shots from Pisac and Ollantaytambo too.

      Great barrier reef.

      Victoria’s twelve apostles.


      Well, there’s lots.

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        I agree with Jerry’s picks too. I loved the Himalaya; but I actually think the Canadian Rockies are more beautiful.

        East Africa is lovely.

        And the coast of Australia (as you noted), all over the place.

        As you noted, there’s lots …

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted August 12, 2015 at 12:13 am | Permalink

          The beauty is a function of time and context as well as the place itself. When I parked just behind the beach at Hawks Nest there was nothing at all to be seen through rain and fog; it had been raining buckets all day as we drove up from south of Sydney on the first day of the honeymoon. I’d been to the spot once, 15 years before, and headed off the highway for a break. A few minutes after parking the rain stopped, fog blew away, and the headland and islands suddenly appeared. And sparkled.

  15. Blue
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Upon its mayor’s offer to me when I hauled on in there July y1997, to refuel, I should have, without nearly enough cash then nor .ever. the likelihood thereof, accepted the man’s kind and genuine proffer of $300,000US and $400,000Canadian for … … his property, to wit, his town of Jake’s Corner, Yukon Territory, which consisted of i) the joint’s same name as that of my middle kiddo, ii) one gasoline pump, iii) two tables for being served noms upon their red – and – white – checkerboard oilcloths and iv) one double – sized bed inside its “hotel” ’s one guest bedroom. O yeah, there was also one outbuilding, too, alongside the AlCan which housed and hosted the mayor’s / its museum.

    But stat upon the AlCan’s other side o’ Jake’s Corner ? A view of a stark and remote and isolated V A L L E Y the likes of which greens – and – blues – and – browns does not end !

    Jacob Thomas — and both of his bros, Zachary Adam and Micah Abraham Zebulon — to this day still remind their Mama how it is that she shoulda when she coulda.

    But, regretfully, I didn’t.

    • Blue
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      or thus ?


      • Blue
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Here as well maybe:

        It appears that Original Jake is likely still its owner. So’s I recommend thus: anyone with i) the inclination for Stark and Remote and Isolated — and ii) what dosh it may now take — to please make Mr Mayor Jake a counteroffer.

        Perhaps you may score such this view yourself !

        ps O’course ’twas July when first I laid eyes upon — and not, say, January … … noooorthern North Hemisphere !

  16. Dee
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I second southern Utah canyon country. Actually, pretty much anywhere in the Colorado Plateau, including the Grand Canyon.

    My very favorite – the Subway in Zion (aka Left Fork). My first time through was at solstice, and we hit the falls/subway/hallway right about noon. With the red sandstone, green vegetation on the walls, sunlight bouncing off clear water and leaving diamonds on the walls, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And the red sandstone terraces (after the subway section) in the watercourse, edged with green moss with water running over, was amazing. Even after all these years, I still remember how awestruck I was. It was incredibly lovely.

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Zion is definitely somewhere near the top of my list.


  17. Christian
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I think Aogashima island is actually pretty impressive, especially from air:

    And although it is administratively a part of Tokyo, it isn’t that easy to get there.

    • Christian
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      • Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        I see by the URL that this is a volcano, too! Wow.

  18. Bob Lundgren
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    In a kayak on Mitchell Lake near Ely, Minnesota at sunrise with no wind and a few sunlit clouds reflected in the water. As my eloquently remarked, “It’s like paddling in the sky”

    • Bob Lundgren
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Should be “as my wife eloquently said”…

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        It was a lifetime ago but I remember the family did two weeks fishing on Lake Vermillion, not far from there. In the winter it was a hunting lodge.

        • Bob Lundgren
          Posted August 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes. The Boundary Waters is a great place any time of year.

  19. Richard
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps not the most beautiful but the most moving place I’ve ever been would be the Ishak Pasha Palace in far Eastern Turkey. I was there in 1966 and then you had the feeling that it was the farthest outpost of civilization and beyond nothing but wasteland. Mount Ararat looms over it.


  20. Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Fijordland, New Zealand – Dusky Sound, home to a specific dolphin subspecies. And the land around it, which is epic.

  21. Christian
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Abbey Gardens on Tresco, Isles of Scilly

    if vegetation happens to be your thing 😉

    • Christian
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and Madeira, of course.

  22. ekinodum
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Here is a vote for Havasu Falls. Also a vote for Mooney Falls and Navajo Falls nearby and the entire Havasu river extending from where it wells up out of the ground near the town of Supai and winds downstream for 10 miles or so to the Colorado, essentially a continuous series of impossibly emerald-blue travertine pools.

    I first hiked down in 1973, and have been back two more times, the last in about 1984. At the time it was isolated and required a day of dirt road driving and a day’s hike to get there. Here’s hoping it has not changed for the worse in the last 30 years.

  23. Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, there are scanners with which one can also scan both slides and negatives and which will produce high-definition pictures which one can upload onto one’s computer.

  24. Barry Blatt
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Helvellyn, Cumbria, UK

    I was camped across the lake from this really very puny mountain when the cloud and mist on the other side boiled over and rolled down the steep slope to fill up the valley like dry ice. Gorgeous. And cold and wet, but that’s the Lake District for you.

    Not my pic, but the same kind of weather

  25. Stephen P
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    My nominations are the Berner Oberland in Switzerland, Sossusvlei in Namibia and Dal Lake in Kashmir, but for a combination of landscape and wildlife it would be the Rift Valley in Kenya.

  26. Marilee Lovit
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    In some book of his Richard Dawkins said of the big trees in the western US “See them before you die.”

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I would second that. There is nothing like getting next to one of those giants – close to a religious experience I suppose but how would I know.

      • Rod
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island…..

        • merilee
          Posted August 11, 2015 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

          California redwoods beat that, imho, but Tofino is spectacular. Maybe there were just too many people there when I visited Cathedral Grove.

          Point Reyes and Muir Woods north of SF.

          • rickflick
            Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

            I must make it to Point Reyes and Muir Woods.
            Muir Woods reminds me of the Kauri forests of NZ.

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      I made it out there last year and it was absolutely stunning. Pictures truly do not do them justice. Fern Valley, CA was amazing as well. It was like being transported back to the age of the dinosaurs.

      • eric
        Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

        The redwood groves throughout CA are *also* like being transported back to the dinosaur age, though we don’t normally think of them as being Jurassic-like. But the trees evolved in the jurassic and are found all over the world by the late cretaceous. The Age of Dinosaurs was also the Age of Redwoods.

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

          Very neat to think about when you’re there! (Or any other time.)

          • Posted August 14, 2015 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            It does make sense. Fern Valley is minutes away from the redwoods, which are within the same state park. The large fern species are plentiful among the big trees too.

            It should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is one eerily ominous trait about the area though and that is the ubiquitous tsunami warning signs throughout the area. When you realize just how high you’ve climbed above sea level to be in the safe zone, it’s quite awe inspiring and at the same time terrifying thinking about getting there in 15 minutes if you’re at the beach.

  27. inkydisaster
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Olympic National Park in WA. I love going to Hurricane Ridge and talking to tourists, many of whom have travelled the world, and listen to them say nothing compares to this place. I know we’re a little out of the way (there’s a west of Seattle?), but anyone who gets a chance should visit. I’ll show you around, if you’d like.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      There is a chance I’ll be out that way in September. Maybe I will take you up on the offer of tour guide.

      • inkydisaster
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        If I’m not available to show you around in person, I’ll be happy to provide suggestions and answer questions. Are you on Facebook?

        • rickflick
          Posted August 11, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

          My FB: Rick Longworth, Poughkeepsie, NY

          • inkydisaster
            Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            Josh Sutcliffe, Port Angeles WA

            pleased to meet you! I sent you a message, I’ll be in the “other” folder.

  28. Posted August 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I’d submit the Painted Desert of Arizona and the Florida Everglades.

  29. Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m thrilled to have been to two of your top three! My other favourite is Lake Matheson in New Zealand’s South Island. If you rise early you get a perfect reflection of the Southern Alps:

    • darrelle
      Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink


  30. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the images! I can’t remember the view from Huayuna Pichu, but that is probably because I had a problem with heights at the time, I remember the mountain climb more. =D

    I’m not much for beauty as much as spectacular, in which case I think Iguazu Falls and Angkor Wat qualifies. (If I would go for beauty I prefer our swedish fjälls (high mountains), actually. I have wandered for weeks at the most, and never once been bored.)

  31. Kiwi Dave
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Jiuzhaigou park in Sichuan. According to publicity shots, extremely pretty in summer, but I saw it in winter – turquoise lakes, a frozen waterfall, and every shade of brown and grey vegetation on the hillsides with very few people around made it a memorable visit.

    Plus an honorable mention for the Black Dragon Pool in Yunnan.

  32. Joe Dickinson
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I also would go with Norwegian fjords and southern Utah red rock country. One favorite that I don’t see above is western Ireland, e.g. Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry.

    • Posted August 12, 2015 at 2:53 am | Permalink

      The two times we’ve been to the Ring of Kerry it’s been completely obscured by cloud or fog. Driving along the narrow coastal roads with visibility about 6′ is a lot of fun … 


      • Dominic
        Posted August 12, 2015 at 3:57 am | Permalink

        I love fog!

      • Joe Dickinson
        Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        The first time we were at the Cliffs of Mohr (spelling?) everything was in fog, then it lifted, gradually revealing the view. Magical. The same thing happened to me in the interior of the West Maui Mountains. We had been collecting Drosophila all morning in the fog. When it lifted we found we had been working along the edge of a spectacular canyon. The local guys who organized the trip never thought to tell us.

  33. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I think that when you finally get to New Zealand (anywhere in New Zealand) you’ll have to drop one of your top 3 to fit NZ in. 🙂 Just take a look at Heather Hastie’s site & check out the vids she’s got.

    My other 2 favs would be the Rowenzori mountains in Uganda and Harris Lake, Ontario.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

      I agree about NZ. It is very beautiful. People really don’t give it the attention it deserves and short change their trip in a package deal to see Australia, NZ and some other South Pacific islands – they always regret that.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Agreed its a spectacular country. I spent a wonderful month in NZ. My wife and I are pilots so we opted for a aerial tour with a professional pilot along with us.
      Here’s our flight over Mt. Cook.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        Mt. Cook? Looks like Caradhras to me!

        • rickflick
          Posted August 12, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          Also known as Barazinbar. Yes you are right. I’ll have to go back and redo the titling.

  34. mfdempsey1946
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Happy to cite Jericoacoara, a beach village 300 kilometers north of Fortaleza on the northeast Atlantic coast of Brazil in the general direction of the Amazon River.

    White sand dunes with the texture of sugar. Ravishing beaches. Panoramic seascapes. Touristic amenities but sufficient geographic isolation (many hours of bus and dune buggy travel required from Fortaleza) to forestall rapacious over-development.

    A general ambiance of flawless tranquility.

    My two days there three years ago remain unrivaled in my memory for enchantment. Wish I could return — right now — and remain there.

  35. Cindy
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Yellowstone National Park

    Golden, British Columbia (Rocky Mountains)

    Monument Valley

  36. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Many times while traveling, other travelers, when they found out where I was from, told me Canada is a beautiful country. Like a typical Canadian, I scrunched up my nose & said, “really?”. Sometimes were fail to recognize how beautiful places are because we’re used to them. I find the Canadian Shield in Ontario’s north quite beautiful – Tobermory is very pretty in particular. Here is a picture of Flowerpot Island there:

    • Rod
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Hi Diana…. ever seen Valley of the Ten Peaks outside Lake Louise?
      The drive in (10 km. or so off the main road into LL) is spectacular enough, but when you get there…. jaw-dropping.

      • merilee
        Posted August 11, 2015 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

        Not to mention all the gorgeous green lakes around Jasper!

    • Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      It is a gift to live in a place with natural beauty and another to continue seeing the beauty. When I first saw Jerry’s post, I immediately thought that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. But I need to see more of Canada.

  37. Brujo Feo
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Well this is rather serendipitous! I saw this on FB just today, although it’s from last October…

    From the Atlantic…

  38. Mudskipper
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Point Lobos State Preserve in Carmel, California. Beautiful both above and under the water.

  39. Posted August 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    In my travels, which are probably wider than most, but certainly more limited than Jerry’s, the summit of Haleakala in Maui takes the cake so far (10000 feet above sea level looking down at the Pacific ocean):

    • Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      The Lower East Side basement comedy club featured in my profile picture, however, stands in stark contrast to the beauty of Maui’s volcano. Facebook + WordPress = WTF?

    • MadScientist
      Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Hmm … if I had time I’d search for my photographs of the Mauna Kea Science Complex. At 13400 feet with red eroded volcanic soil, clouds below, patches of snow, and the ghostly artifacts of the Science Complex it’s like something out of a science fiction story.

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        I definitely plan to make it there next time I go to Hawaii. I managed to stay on top of Haleakala long enough for the stars to come out, but my kids aren’t quite old enough to appreciate being able to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. I second the religious aspect of it though, I got far more out of that than I ever got sitting in a hard wooden pew receiving doses of guilt handed down from on high.

      • Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a better quality image than the one of sunset, taken in the opposite direction towards the crater:

      • darrelle
        Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink

        Something I would love to see. I would also love to see the ESO at Paranal. I’d love to be camping nearby while while watching the calibration lasers spearing into the sky.

  40. MadScientist
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the Taj Mahal, geometry can be used to check for a forged moon – there are a number of things which must be consistent:

    a. The moon is ~0.5 degrees across – since we have the dome (known size) photographed from across the reflecting pond (known size) there is an angular reference for the moon.

    b. It must be physically possible for the moon to appear as a crescent at that point in the sky and with that orientation. This is a far more complex problem but it can be solved.

  41. Larry Smith
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    The train ride that takes you through Copper Canyon, Mexico.

  42. merilee
    Posted August 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Agreed about Grand Canyon, Point Lobos, Tobermory, and would add Canyonlands in Utah and the drive between Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. and on up. East Africa ain’t too shabby, either.

  43. Sebastian
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Nice to see Perú in your top three. Un saludo desde acá, I check WEIT on a daily basis.

  44. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    Very subjective!

    But for one at least, the Colle delle Finestre, south of Susa in Italy. The approach from the south side through Usseaux takes you across an alpine meadow in a natural bowl surrounded by mountains. The col itself overlooks this meadow, with the valley below and beyond stretching towards Sestriere, bordered on the right by the ridge along which you can (if adventurous and the road is open) drive the Strada del’ Assietta.

    To the north of the col, the road descends in hairpins in a little valley, soon reaching the edge of the main Susa valley where it zigzags down through the woods towards Susa – 47 hairpins from memory.

    For another – the beach at Rarotonga (where I am right now). Any one of half-a-dozen beaches, in fact, Nikao, Te Muriavai, Matiekura, Papaaroa, Tikioki being my favourites (the best one on any given day is whichever is in the lee of the wind).

    (Bandwidth limited here so can’t do much for photo links…)

  45. Posted August 12, 2015 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    I’m finding it hard to be more localised, but I’d plump for somewhere in the Lesser Antilles.


    • Dominic
      Posted August 12, 2015 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      Greater Antilles are surely greater?! 😉

      • Posted August 12, 2015 at 4:06 am | Permalink

        Lesser is morer.


        • Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

          That, and Lister is a moron. And a smeghead — but that goes without saying.


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 15, 2015 at 2:49 am | Permalink

            I think you’re thinking of Arnold Rimmer, surely?

            (Unless I’ve got the context wrong…)


            • Posted August 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

              Him, too.

              I mean, it’s not like anybody on that ship had much in the way of redeeming characteristics….


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted August 16, 2015 at 3:36 am | Permalink

                Oh, I idolised Dave Lister. How could one not love a character who had such immortal lines as, “No way are these my boxer shorts. These bend!”


              • Posted August 17, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

                Craig Charles is a brilliant comedic actor…and Lister is a complete loser and smeghead who, as you note, changed underwear about once every several ice ages.


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted August 17, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

                Yet Lister is the most heroic character on Red Dwarf. (Or maybe an ‘anti-hero’). That doesn’t say much for the rest of the crew, of course. But it’s usually Lister who saves the day, sometimes in some completely slobby fashion, after Rimmer has screwed things up.


              • Posted August 18, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                But isn’t that the whole point of the show? The last representative of humanity is…well…representative. Generally an incompetent smeghead who still manages to not be a complete disaster all of the time. Rimmer, the idealized and actualized ghost / angel, is every much the even-worse prick you’d have to expect. Holly the superintelligent computer doesn’t actually know jack and is always falling down at the most inopportune moments. Kryten, the ultimate mechanical helper, is little more than a glorified Roomba — with very strong overtones of being a chattel slave with Stockholm syndrome. And so on.

                It’s a condensed caricature of the entire society — even with the decaying ship as a stand-in for the Earth itself…and it’s really not a pretty picture.

                Again — brilliant comedy. But, like all truly great comedy, it’s about as dark and bleak and insulting as you can imagine.


              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted August 18, 2015 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

                I agree (much as I hate to say it… 😉


              • Posted August 19, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

                Did I mention? The best comedy is insightfully brutal….


  46. Dominic
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    “I hate mountains. They spoil the view!”

    Most beautiful place? All places change, all the time, with weather & light, so it is possible to see beauty even in a grim city. However I will say the sea. Any sea!

  47. Richard Bond
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Bali is pretty good, but I would not rate it on a par with many of the other great choices cited here: I especially concur with the Scottish Highlands, Grand Canyon, and the Rift valley in Kenya. I would like to plug a couple of other places so far not mentioned.

    The Seychelles feature an unusual combination of granite mountains and granite headlands that set off coral beaches. The weather ensures lush vegetation and spectacular sunsets.

    The other surprising omission is France. I could mention many places that I would recommend, but my favourite is the Vercors national park. I once drove a Californian colleague between business meetings at Aix-en-Provence and Grenoble (without using a map, I know the area so well), heading NW off the direct route at Aspres-sur-Buech, then turning north at Die. We entered the Vercors over the Col de Rousset, and as we were weaving through the gorges at the northern end of the region, my colleague declared “better than Yosemite”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 5:08 am | Permalink

      The Vercors is truly spectacular. Sadly the Grands Goulets road – which shares a narrow knife-edge gorge with the stream that created it – has been bypassed by a tunnel and closed for ‘safety reasons’, though there are apparently moves afoot to try and reopen it for foot traffic (i.e. tourists) only. I’d love to walk it.

      But the Combe Laval road is breathtaking, cut in the side of a sheer cliff over a vast gorge. (My theory is it was once a tramway, since its horizontal alignment is near-level, and there’s an easier route over the top of the adjacent hills). If you’re not fond of heights, best direction is north to south i.e. climbing to the plateau, since that puts your car on the comforting ‘inside’ next to the rock wall.


      • rickflick
        Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

        “Riding the Combe Laval Road on a Harley”

        Actual ride starts at 58 sec.

      • Posted August 14, 2015 at 12:59 am | Permalink

        There is a similar very beautiful road (tho the gorge is not so deep) in the Roussillon — les gorges de Galamus.

  48. Rod
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Interesting thing, reading these comments. A recurring theme seems to be the absence of human beings, the presence of water, mountains (or hills) and maybe sunrises or sunsets. Places largely untouched by human hands. Not universally but in a large number of preferences.

    Does that say anything profound about what we think of as beauty, or am I trying to dig too deep?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 13, 2015 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      I think you’re right. Part of it is getting away from the crowds. And water enlivens a scene.


  49. Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    The view from the top of the gondola at Whistler – now doubt over touristed, but when it was just a little popular, we went. I was astonished – then I somehow felt I had lost my colour vision – the trees down aways and all the snow just make everything black and white …

    • Merilee
      Posted August 14, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Beautiful in summer, too, and the gondola ride between Whistler Mtn and Blackcomb!

  50. Sciencefictionfan
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Cap de Formentor on Mallorca. You have a wonderful view on the Mediterranean Sea as well as parts of the North and East Coast. But the street to the Cap is winding. You need be a good driver. 😉

  51. KP
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Mine is Benalmadena, near Malaga, Spain, tied with the Alhambra, Granada, Spain. Don’t have a photo at my fingertips.

  52. Posted August 13, 2015 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Those are all beautiful spots, I’m sure, and I’ve seen some of them. But for me, there is nothing on earth more beautiful than a comfortable chair in the shade of a tree on a (not too) sunny day in my own back yard, with my collie dog and two cats lying near or under the chair, on which I am sitting with a good book! (FvF, of course!)

    • Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      This is true – sometimes the most beautiful place on earth is just where you are with a friend or loved one.

  53. Diane G.
    Posted August 14, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Ah, too many places to choose from, though most would be in the US Pacific Northwest.

    I find it interesting that all three of Jerry’s faves contain evidence (quite a lot!) of human presence. Mine would definitely not!

    While I find mountain-scapes and Oregon coast scenes breathtaking and profound, as far as beauty goes I prefer something more obviously richer in life forms. Something like the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, dripping with epiphytes, or the deep conifer forests edging rushing, mountain-draining rivers, like the McKenzie, also in Oregon.

  54. Mark Joseph
    Posted August 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to be so late.

    1) The Grand Canyon
    2) The California redwoods
    3) Any place with lots of water (lake, river, ocean, pond) as I grew up and still live in the concrete jungle.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      IIANM, Ed Wilson postulates that a desire to live near water is an innate part of our biophilia.

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