7 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die

Paula Froelich
Editor at Large
May 23, 2014

(Courtesy: Paradise is a Place Called Home)

Every now and then, Mother Nature shows us who—and what—she’s all about. Several times a year, across the globe, natural phenomena take place and blow our minds. Pictures don’t do these sights justice. Trust us: you have to see them to really believe and experience them. Here, seven out-of-body experiences.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

1. The Northern Lights

There is nothing more surreal than looking up in the sky and seeing an unearthly, alien green color swirl all around you. No, it’s not UFOs, it’s the Northern Lights. The good news: It’s out of this world and jaw-droppingly stunning. The bad news: It only happens in winter in really, really cold places. Here’s a handy guide on where and when to see the Aurora Borealis in all its splendor. 

 2. The Monarch butterfly migration

The iconic Monarch butterfly is just like me—it can’t stand the cold. So every fall, masses of the majestic insects migrate 2,500 miles from California to the Oyamel fir trees of Mexico. Check out migration watch sites and areas like Montes Azules in the late fall and winter for the best results. 

(Courtesy: Vintage Teaspoon)

(Photo: Thinkstock)

3. The Andean Flamingo migration, Argentina via Chile and Bolivia

The Andean flamingo (seen above) is one of the rarest flamingos in the world and while they tend to stick close to the salt lakes in the Atacama Desert, every summer they migrate from their Chilean breeding ground to the wetlands of central and western Argentina. 

(Photo: Abby Bischoff/Flickr)

4. A lightning storm over the plains of South Dakota

The good thing about a lightning storm in eastern South Dakota (pictured above) is that the area’s so flat you can see one coming for miles and not have to get out of the way for hours, depending on how fast it’s moving. My Daddy used to live in Aberdeen, S.D., and if we heard there was a storm coming, we’d eat outside on a picnic bench and watch the black wall of water, wind and lightning come toward us. By dessert we’d be inside, but it was always a truly awe-inspiring sight that made me feel like I was in a Tolkien novel. 

(Photo: Ariel Schalit/AP)

5. Meteor Shower

If you’ve ever seen a shooting star, you know how special it is. Now imagine a sky full of them, for hours. I saw my first meteor shower when I was 16 in the Black Hills and I have been hunting them ever since. If you are in North  America and have the stamina, Saturday morning between 3 a.m and 4 a.m., a spectacular show is set for our skies. For more information on what meteor showers will hit in 2014 (and where), click here

(Courtesy: Groh List for Life)

6 .Bioluminescent Bays

The “Bio Bay“ in Puerto Rico is one of the best places to see this weird rave of the natural world. Bioluminescent Bays happen when ”The water luminescence is triggered by dinoflagellates, oceanic plankton which is able to generate an emerald green and ultramarine illumination when water is physically disturbed.” Got that? Just know this—it’s really cool. Kayak on the bay at night and it feels like you are in a Star Trek episode. 

(Photo: Ben Chaney/Flickr)

7. The Rhododendron trees bloom in the Himalayas

For two weeks every April, in the east of Nepal and in the Himalayan foothills surrounding Darjeeling, the Rhododendron trees go into full bloom and it’s spectacular. As far as the eye can see, a a swathe of red and pink cover the terrain up to the snow-covered peaks of the mountains. It’s like Nepal and India on Photoshop. No Instagram filter needed. 

Rhododendron trees of the Himalayas are nature’s Photoshop. (Photo: Thinkstock)

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