18 Places in the US That Look Like They’re From Another Planet

Have you ever dreamed of going to space? Well, if you live in the United States—you don’t have to! From Death Valley in California to Crater Lake in Oregon, there are tons of places across the country that look like they’ve come straight from your favorite sci-fi movies. In this article, we’ll uncover 18 of these fascinating spots!

Mauna Kea, Hawaii

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Mauna Kea is an enormous dormant volcano on the Big Island—also the highest point in Hawaii. It’s used as a testing ground for space rovers by NASA and is said to resemble lunar craters, which is why the location is the ideal spot to aid research for lunar and planetary environments.

Death Valley, California

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This cratered, below-sea-level basin is known for its otherworldly landscapes, like Zabriskie Point. It features salt flats, dry rugged terrain, and extreme temperatures, and is also home to the mysterious sailing stones of the Racetrack Playa. The landscape holds uncanny similarities to Mars, which may be why it was used by NASA for testing before the Mars Curiosity Rover landing.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

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Known for its out-of-this-world landscapes and unique Joshua trees, this spot is very popular among photographers, hikers, and climbers. The region’s massive boulders and unique flora create an eerie sci-fi-like atmosphere—unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. As said by the National Park Service, “Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness.”

Sedona, Arizona

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Famous for its stunning red rock formations, be sure to pay a visit to Sedona if you want to feel like you’re on another planet. Companies in the area offer Jeep tours to explore the remote and rugged terrain, ideal for landscape photography and outdoor activities like hiking​​.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

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Badlands National Park has beautiful, striking geological formations such as rugged rock spires and sharply sloping canyons. It’s a hotspot for discovering ancient fossils, including the remains of rhinoceroses and saber-tooth cats. This location attracts visitors with its captivating landscape and significant paleontological sites​.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah

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Located in the San Rafael Desert of southeast Utah, Goblin Valley State Park offers a unique and obscure landscape. It features fascinating rock formations known as “hoodoos” and is suitable for visitors of all ages, with activities ranging from hiking to exploring the valley’s otherworldly terrain​.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

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This striking location is a slot canyon, known for its wave-like structure. The play of light and shadow here creates an otherworldly appearance, and it is ideal for photography with its smooth, flowing rock walls. However, as shared by Visit Arizona, “A permit and a tour guide are required to explore this special place,” so be sure to plan ahead.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

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This gorgeous, one-of-a-kind destination is famous for its vast field of white-as-snow sand dunes. The gypsum sand creates a surreal, alien landscape that will take your breath away as you admire it. There are also activities available here, like sledding on the sand dunes.

Crater Lake, Oregon

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Not for those who get freaked out by deep bodies of water, Crater Lake is a dark, deep, and beautiful lake formed in the remains of an ancient volcano. It’s known for its deep blue color and water clarity. This spot is also surrounded by cliffs and often has snow well into the summer.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

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Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is famous for its unique geological structures, or “hoodoos.” It offers a Mars-like landscape filled with impressive red, orange, and white rock formations. This location also provides stunning views, especially at sunrise and sunset.

Devils Tower, Wyoming

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Don’t be put off by the name! “The Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills. It is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and Indigenous people,” as per the National Park Service. It’s a striking volcanic formation known for its almost perfect columnar basalt.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

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This unique location features the tallest sand dunes in North America—an impressive and visually stunning feat. The landscape is a mix of dunes, mountains, and forests, offering sand sledding and other boarding activities. There are no limitations in place for visiting, either.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

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Famous for its geothermal features like geysers and hot springs, Yellowstone National Park is a must-visit when in Wyoming. The vibrant colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring create an alien-like look, perfect for those seeking a sci-fi environment. This spot is also home to diverse wildlife and the massive Yellowstone Caldera.

The Wave, Arizona

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A sandstone rock formation known for its stunning undulating forms, The Wave in Arizona is another place that looks like it could be on a different planet. Its surreal, wave-like structure is strikingly picturesque. Unfortunately, the area does require a permit due to limited daily access restrictions.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

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Known for its eerie underground passages and grand caverns, Mammoth Cave is striking and impressive. According to Kentucky Tourism, “This is the longest recorded cave system in the world, with more than 400 miles explored and mapped.” It offers a vast subterranean landscape with unique rock formations.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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Valley of Fire State Park is famous for its bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops. The ancient trees and petroglyphs that are found here only add to the alien-like scenery. You can pay a visit and enjoy scenic drives and trails through the unique landscape.

Mono Lake, California

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Featuring otherworldly limestone formations known as tufa towers, Mono Lake is a great spot to visit and snap some photos. The lake has a unique ecosystem, featuring “calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by [the] interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water.” Its surreal appearance is often used in photography and film.

Havasu Falls, Arizona

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Havasu Falls is located within the Grand Canyon and is famous for its striking blue-green waterfalls. The color contrast against the red rocks creates a surreal view, something you might expect to see on an alien planet. This spot is accessible by a challenging hike, horseback, or helicopter.

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