While I have a great appreciation for man-made wonders, nothing comes close to the beauty of the natural world.
About Balanced Rocks
Balanced rocks are geological formations that fascinate tourists around the world. Typically, they are precariously balanced—most have been defying the laws of gravity for long periods. Some weigh thousands of tons but have managed to maintain their positions irrespective of erosion, earthquakes and other vagaries of nature.
How Are Balancing Rocks Formed?
These unique rock formations are often the product of glacial transportation or landslides, resulting in large rocks or boulders perching atop others. Some formations are carved by nature, continuing to hold their balance even after extensive erosion by wind or water. Some hoodoos—tall, thin spires of rock—maintain their position at the top despite their base being reduced sufficiently, which creates a balanced rock.
'Chip Off the Old Block' Takes a Fall and Others May Too
During the winter of 1975–1976, a small balancing rock called 'Chip Off the Old Block' fell down in Utah's Arches National Park. 'Chip Off the Old Block' once stood beside another still-existing balanced rock. There's no telling how long these formations will remain. More may disappear around the world at any moment. As such, it is high time to visit some of these breathtaking natural wonders.
10 Balanced Rocks to Visit Around the World
- Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Utah, USA
- Balancing Rock in Nova Scotia, Canada
- Golden Rock in Kyaiktiyo Hill, Myanmar
- Idol Rock in Brimham, UK
- Devils Marbles in Australia
- Peyro-Clabado in Sidobre, France
- Mother and Child Rock in Zimbabwe
- Balanced Rock in Orla Perć, Poland
- Peak Pigeon Chest in Brazil
- Balanced Rock in Garden of the Gods, Colorado, USA
1. Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Utah, USA
- Location: Arches National Park, Grand County, Eastern Utah, United States
- Description: Arches National Park is full of red sandstone formations—arches, spires and balancing rocks. Located at nearly 14.5 km from the entrance of the park, Balanced Rock is about 128 ft in height with a big balancing rock at the top, rising about 55 ft from the base.
- Accessibility: There is a loop trail leading to the base of the formation from the parking lot. The beauty of this rock is that its shape appears to change dramatically with perspective as you climb the trail to its base. Starting from the parking lot itself, the changes in the shape of this picturesque rock formation are worth viewing. Furthermore, views of the snow-covered La Sal Mountains in the background make it quite spectacular.
- Note: The other nearby structure seen in the photos had a similar (but smaller) balanced rock which has since fallen down.
2. Balancing Rock in Nova Scotia, Canada
- Location: St. Mary's Bay on Long Island (between Tiverton and Central Grove), Digby County, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Description: This amazing rock formation is quite fascinating. The 9-meter high column is believed to be a part of the North Mountain Basalt flow of lava during the Jurassic Age. Standing at the edge of a big rock below, it is incredible to witness the gaps between the rocks. It is hard to believe what you are seeing.
- Accessibility: It is easy to access using the stairs but may be strenuous and hard for some to climb all the way up—nearly 235 steep wooden stairs—especially without proper footwear. However, there are rest areas in between. The trail through the green forest is beautiful. Ferry services between Digby Neck and Long Island are available.
Enjoy the Hike to Balancing Rock
Check out the video above to gain insight into the incredible hike to Balancing Rock in Nova Scotia, Canada.
3. Golden Rock in Kyaiktiyo Hill, Myanmar
- Location: Kyaiktiyo Hill (Eastern Yoma Mountains), Near Kyaikhto Town, Mon State, Myanmar
- Description: Golden Rock is better known as a Buddhist pilgrimage site than as a tourist destination. At about 25 ft high with a circumference of about 50 ft, the granite boulder sits on an incline with an extremely small area of contact at the top of Kyaiktiyo Hill. Like many other balanced rocks, it defies gravity, even after a 24 ft gilded pagoda was built over it. According to legend, it is perched on a strand of Buddha's hair.
- Accessibility: It is overcrowded from November to March. The journey is tedious, in open-top, jam-packed trucks through jungles. The ride is like a roller coaster, but it opens to a panoramic view of the spectacular green mountains. Then, there is a steep, upward journey of 1.5 km on foot which may take about an hour or more.
- Note: Only men are allowed to touch the rock. Women have to stop short of the bridge that has to be crossed to affix square-shaped golden leaves to the Golden Rock.
4. Idol Rock in Brimham, UK
- Location: Brimham Moor, North Yorkshire, England. It is about 2 miles to the north of Summerbridge in Nidderdale.
- Description: Brimham Moor has many rocks with odd shapes, some of which are curiously balanced. Millstone grit erosion by water, glaciation and wind have caused these amazing shapes. Idol Rock is very popular because of its huge size and shape. It is estimated to be over 200 tons, balanced over a small pyramid-shaped stone. One wonders how long it will continue to stand.
5. Devils Marbles in Australia
- Location: Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, 105 km south of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, Australia. The nearest small town is Wauchope, which is 9 km away.
- Description: Locally called Karlu Karlu, the Devils Marbles are huge, round granite boulders formed by millions of years of erosion. They are varying sizes; some span up to 7 meters in diameter. Quite a few of them are in precariously balanced positions, while others have split down the middle. The visual spectacle makes this one of the most visited sites in the area.
- Note: The Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is a sacred site with red boulders to the Aborigines.
6. Peyro-Clabado in Sidobre, France
- Location: Haut-Languedoc Nature Reserve, Sidobre, Tarn, Central France. The nearest towns are Lacrouzette (3 km away) and Castres (18 km away).
- Description: Sidrobe is full of extraordinary granite boulders and unusual landscapes. Peyro-Clabado is a huge granite boulder balanced on a pedestal. The boulder, weighing about 780 tons, rests on a platform touching only one square meter.
7. Mother and Child Rock in Zimbabwe
- Location: Matobo Hills, Matopos National Park, Zimbabwe. It is 35 km south of Bulawayo in the southern part of Zimbabwe.
- Description: Mother and Child Rock is an inselberg—a German word meaning isolated hill that stands above well-developed plains—in the Matopos National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Its fantastic shape was formed by the weathering of granite rocks about 1475 meters above sea level. Erosion of the softer parts of these rocks resulted in different shapes, piling up like building blocks.
- Note: One of the reasons for the popularity of this rock formation is its feature on the currency of Zimbabwe.
8. Balanced Rock in Orla Perć, Poland
- Location: Orla Perć, Tatra Mountains, Poland
- Description: This site provides real adventure in the Tatra Mountains. The rock is balanced at the edge of a cliff. It is not very high, only about 3 meters and weighing between 10–15 tons.
- Accessibility: Going up and down on the mountain ridge is risky as the path is very narrow. The use of ropes and chains is required in some places. Only experienced climbers should venture out here. There is a beautiful and breathtaking panorama of this area, but it may not be possible for everyone to reach. Orla Perć means Eagle's Path in English.
9. Peak Pigeon Chest in Brazil
- Location: Macae, RJ, Brazil, South America. The nearest town is Arraial do Sana'a.
- Description: From certain angles, the shape of this rock formation resembles a pigeon perched on a stone.
- Accessibility: At an altitude of 1400 meters, reaching this formation requires a challenging ascent following a guided path. Upon reaching the top, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the coast of Macae. On the way up, there are forests and many waterfalls.
10. Balanced Rock in Garden of the Gods, Colorado, USA
- Location: Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
- Description: This amazing rock at the Garden of the Gods Park has held its position and 700 tons of weight for thousands of years. The erosion of the soft bottom layer of shale has been much faster than the harder upper sandstone. The result is the precarious and breathtaking position of this enormous rock.
- Note: It is very peaceful and looks different at different times throughout the day. This site is a dreamland for photography utilizing the variety of trails and the stunning surrounding views.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Sukhdev Shukla