Balancing Act: 10 Precariously Perched Rocks

Sculpted by the elements over millennia, these rocks defy both reason and gravity.
By Tarquin Cooper

They are among nature's most in incredible wonders: huge, delicately-balanced rocks that look like they're about to topple over at any moment. Some may last for thousands of years, but the lifespan for some of the bizarre examples we have below may be a little bit shorter. Are you ready to rock and roll?

Do you have a photo of a big rock that's about to fall that you've come across in your own adventures? Share yours using the #balancedrock hashtag on Instagram or Twitter and we'll showcase the best in a social gallery below, which you can see after learning about our featured rocks.

I wouldn't stand there if I were you © Gerry Slabaugh

Balanced Rock Park, Idaho

Over 50 feet tall and weighing 40 tons, this wind-carved rock balances precariously on a pedestal that measures approximately 3 feet by 17 inches. No, we wouldn't want to stand there for too long, either.

 

Rainbow over rocks © Cecil Whitt

Hoodoos in Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

At first glance this may look like a collection of fungi but the rainbows give the game away on the scale of these formations. Called Hoodoos, these tall rock spires form in arid deserts. The balanced stone on top is typically a much harder rock and serves to protect the column from nature's elements.

 

Rock on © John Elk III/Lonely Planet Images

Mushroom Rock State Park, Kansas

Located in the Smoky Hills region of north-central Kansas, this park is noted for its mushroom-like rock formations, also a kind of hoodoo. While naturally a source of interest for geologists, you don't need to be a rock specialist to gaze and question: are these really formed naturally, or are they the work of another life force?

 

Rock and Roll © Bryan Mullennix/Getty Images

Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods, Colorado

What would it take to push this rock god over? We're pretty sure the answer is "not much." Backing up your car near here? Not a good idea.

This unique stone is part of Colorado's Garden of the Gods, a unique wilderness that has been home to many Native American tribes for over 3,000 years. Look closely and in the rock you'll be able to see the history of past ages, from ancient seas to sandy beaches to forgotten mountains.

 

Sculpted rock off the coast of Norway © Kjerstin Gjengedal/Getty Images

Kannesteinen Rock, Norway

Just yards from the shoreline, a statue of a whale's fin provides a timely reminder of the great creatures that roam the oceans in these latitudes. Only this wasn't sculpted by hand. Sometimes nature can out-do anything we humans create. This beautiful rock, crafted by the sea, is testament to that.

 

Between a rock and a hard place © VisionsofAmerica.com/Joe Sohm via Getty Images

Marble Canyon, Arizona

So named for its colorful rocks, Marble Canyon is famed for its rafting and fishing. It's a great location for some backcountry time-out but pitching your tent underneath this bad boy is probably a bad idea.

 

Prehistoric rolling stone © Mitsuo Ambe/Getty Images

Krishna’s Butter Ball, India

You could be forgiven for not wanting to stand here and take this photo. At any moment, this giant ball looks as though it will start to obey the laws of gravity and unleash itself like the famous "Raiders of the Lost Ark" opening sequence.

 

Steady as a rock. But not for much longer... © National Geographic Creative

Ténéré Desert Rock, Sahara

One of the world's lesser-known deserts, the Ténéré comprises a vast stretch of the Sahara — some 155,000 square miles — from northeastern Niger into western Chad. It's also one of the most inhospitable, where daytime temperatures can reach 108ºF.

Hot, dusty winds known as the harmattan blow year-round and are partly responsible for helping to create unique rock features such as these.

 

El Capitan, the lesser known one. © Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures/National Geographic Creative

El Capitan (the other one), Texas

Mention El Capitan and you can be forgiven for thinking of the huge 3,000-foot walls of Yosemite National Park. It's fair to say that the bigger El Cap is the better-known chunk of rock.

But small is beautiful, and the rocks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas are no less captivating, especially this precariously-balanced one.

 

How did that rock get there? © Tim Fitzharris/Minden Pictures/National Geographic Creative

Grand Staircase, Utah

Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a window into time, a geologic sampler with a huge variety of rock formations and features. This delicately-balanced rock is part of the Grand Staircase, a geological formation spanning eons of time. There's only one question: How did that rock get there in the first place?

 

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