The world's most wonderful wildernesses



Slide 1 of 31: While much of the planet has been built upon, occupied by sprawling cities and towns, there are areas where the world’s wildness is still preserved in all its diverse glory. There are even places that are so remote and resistant to development, they simply can’t be tamed. From national parks and designated wilderness areas that protect fauna and flora to deserted, inhospitable places where few have trodden, these are the most beautiful wild spots around the world. As always, remember to check travel restrictions and national park opening times and closures if planning a trip.
Slide 2 of 31: Black Elk Wilderness, named for the Oglala Sioux spiritual leader, is the only designated wilderness area in South Dakota’s enormous Black Hills National Forest, with more than 13,000 acres of preserved forests, granite peaks and mountain lakes. A highlight – and the highest point in the state – is Black Elk Peak, topped by a 1930s-built fire lookout tower made from native stone. Goats, mountain lions and wild turkeys are among the animals that roam the unforgiving landscape.
Slide 3 of 31: This forest wilderness on Tasmania is a wild tangle of giant tree ferns, moss-clad trees, roaring rivers and tucked-away waterfalls, leading to mountainous sand dunes and rugged beaches strewn with driftwood. However, Tarkine is under threat, with portions still vulnerable to logging and proposals to allow mining. Campaign group Save the Tarkine wants the area brought under UNESCO protection, citing its importance as one of the largest remaining areas of temperate rainforest, its biodiversity and role as habitat for the near-extinct Tasmanian devil.
Slide 4 of 31: Around a 90-minute drive north of Inverness, Alladale is a resort second and a reserve first. The property has an all-inclusive lodge and self-catering cottages (reservations required) set amid 24,000 acres of Scotland’s last remaining wild spaces, once roamed by wolves. The rugged glens are carved by rivers and foraged by red deer and red squirrels, while the site’s re-wilding projects include planting native trees and breeding Scottish wild cats, once common in the area.

Slide 5 of 31: Much of Greenland is covered by spellbinding and near-silent expanses of wilderness, including the protected 375,000 square miles (972,000sq km) that make up Greenland National Park in the northeast of the country. This is the world’s largest national park and relatively inaccessible, with few people able to regularly enter the land. Most visitors are only able to observe as part of an expedition. It's exactly why the landscape of glaciers and snow-blanketed peaks, home to polar bears and giant walruses, remains so wonderfully wild and untamed.
Slide 6 of 31: Tigers, snow leopards and Asiatic wild dogs are among the elusive and enchanting animals to roam Jigme Dorji National Park, one of Bhutan’s largest preserves and among the most biodiverse. The Himalayan kingdom has a strong commitment to natural preservation – it’s written into the constitution that at least 60% of land is under forest cover, while more than 51% of the country is protected. It’s on UNESCO’s tentative list due to its rich wildlife and the semi-nomadic Layap communities that live in the park.
Slide 7 of 31: The biscuit-colored beaches and salt-sprayed forests of this island are roamed by wild horses, who graze on dune grass and sleep on the sand. The barrier island, which lies off Georgia’s southeastern coast, is also a nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles. Its 36,000 acres of wilderness have been designated a protected National Seashore due to the important wildlife and diverse habitats including wetlands and marshes.
Slide 8 of 31: Ireland’s first official wilderness zone, this national park is a wonderfully wild, wet and windswept terrain of blanket bog and mist-wrapped mountains. The park, in County Mayo, is also one of the most remote areas of the country. The Nephin Beg mountains dominate a vast landscape that’s home to red deer, otters and rare bird species including golden plovers and merlins. Note that the Ballycroy visitor center is currently closed.
Slide 9 of 31: The emerald-cloaked and snow-topped peaks that rise above Milford Sound are the most famous site in this national park, New Zealand’s largest and one of the world’s biggest protected areas. Its beauty has never been fully tamed, with native Maori people only venturing to this expanse of land to hunt and fish. And this is pure, unspoiled beauty, with lush rainforest clinging to steep mountain slopes and waterfalls that pour, like liquid silk, into mirror-like fjords, carved by glaciers and flooded by the sea. Explore the world’s most beautiful national parks here.

Slide 10 of 31: Peel Watershed covers around 30,000 square miles (77,000sq km), making it one of the largest swathes of untouched wilderness in North America. The biodiverse region, whose mountains and rivers provide habitat for wildlife including dall sheep and caribou, has been under threat of development because of its gas, iron and coal deposits. A recent ruling means around 80% of the land is now protected, following a lengthy battle between the Yukon government and a coalition of indigenous First Nations and environmental groups.
Slide 11 of 31: This protected land, which sprawls out from Namibia’s Atlantic coast, incorporates some of the country’s most spectacular and diverse scenery, from the rolling red dunes of the Namib Desert to uninhabitable salt pans. The eerie white clay pan of Deadvlei, whose name means ‘dead marsh’, is dotted with dead trees and is blazingly white against the fiery dunes. It’s so boldly beautiful that it appears more like a painting or art installation than the results of nature – as does much of this striking park. Discover more places you won't believe are on Earth here.
Slide 12 of 31: Swathes of native beeches are protected at the heart of Germany in Hainich National Park, whose past as a restricted military zone allowed the woodland to grow relatively undisturbed. The primeval beech forest, which is one of the last remaining in central Europe, now makes up a protected wilderness area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a canopy walk zigzagging through land roamed by lynx, wild cats and red deer.
Slide 13 of 31: Every inch of Jiuzhaigou National Park, in China’s northern Sichuan province, is eye-poppingly pretty. The nature reserve is made up of several valleys, carved into alpine mountains that rise in spindly peaks. In between are limestone terraces, broad waterfalls, lakes and multicolored pools where the water appears in shimmering shades of turquoise and purple. The fauna is equally enchanting, with giant pandas and Sichuan takin – known as goat-antelopes – making this fairy-tale landscape home. Take a look at amazing images of Earth’s most colorful natural wonders here.
Slide 14 of 31: Named for an indigenous word for “wild place”, Rawah Wilderness looks like something airlifted in from the Austrian Alps. It’s a perfectly pretty landscape of glacier-carved valleys, limpid lakes, forested mountain slopes and meadows that erupt with colorful blooms each spring. Its 78,000 pristine acres, tucked between busier national forests Roosevelt and Routt, are roamed and grazed by bighorn sheep, elk, black bears and marmots. Note that the park is currently closed.

Slide 15 of 31: Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is a wild stretch of glaciers, geyser fields and volcanoes (many of them actively spitting and spouting) on the country’s eastern coast. The former Soviet military area is also home to tens of thousands of Kamchatka brown bears. Many live in the protected Kronotsky Reserve, where they fish for salmon from the shores of Lake Kurile, overlooked by the Ilyinsky volcano.
Slide 16 of 31: Few parts of the US are as wild as Everglades National Park, with 1.5 million acres of preserved wetlands creating a floating patchwork of blues and greens. It’s a humbling glimpse of just what nature can do if left alone to thrive, with crocodiles, manatees, leatherback turtles and Florida panthers living among a landscape of coastal mangroves, marshes and pine forests.
Slide 17 of 31: The elephant-gray peak of Mount Thor dominates this craggy landscape of granite rock, rivers, glaciers and fjords in Canada’s Arctic north. Auyuittuq National Park, on Baffin Island, is part of the country’s Nunavut region, where fewer than 40,000 people reside in an area that’s roughly the size of Western Europe. The barely-touched wilderness, which sees the midnight sun in summer, is rich in some of the world’s most beguiling wildlife, from polar bears and Arctic wolves to walruses and beluga whales. The park is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Slide 18 of 31: Some terrains simply refuse to be tamed, often meaning we’re left with some of the world’s most ruggedly beautiful landscapes. That’s definitely the case with this 25-mile (40km) portion of northern Californian coastline, which proved too wild for the state’s famous Pacific Coast Highway to continue through it. It begins where the road ends in Mendocino County, with foggy forests and trails leading to driftwood beaches providing a hikers’ paradise.
Slide 19 of 31: Some of the trees in Queensland’s Daintree National Park are more than 2,500 years-old – while the rainforest itself is an even grander age of 110 million years, making this one of the world’s oldest ecosystems. The landscape of reefs, rivers and rainforests that stretch to the sea is also wonderfully untouched, protected by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people and providing precious habitat for wildlife including scarily tall, sapphire-feathered cassowaries. Check the park website for updates before planning a trip.
Slide 20 of 31: This designated wilderness area is just outside Tucson but feels a world away from anything remotely resembling civilization. In the Santa Catalina Mountains and part of the Coronado National Forest, its peaks, canyons and rock formations provide a dramatic habitat for desert bighorn sheep. The diverse park encompasses subalpine forest, Sonoran desert and mountain slopes dotted with tall saguaro cacti, with its highest peaks reaching more than 9,000 feet (2,743m) above sea level. Note that the area is currently closed.
Slide 21 of 31: The spindly, spiky limestone pinnacles of this national park are believed to be around 200 million years-old, and they are as impenetrable and inaccessible as their dramatic, jagged beauty suggests. Tsingy de Bemaraha, whose name means ‘the place where one cannot walk’, is a giant labyrinth of rock formations, lakes, mangroves, lakes and canyons, with just a few trails and rope bridges the only signs of human interference. It’s an important area for Madagascar’s wildlife, famous for its endemic reptiles and several species of endangered lemurs.
Slide 22 of 31: America’s largest state is king when it comes to wilderness, with great swathes of the country given over to nature in all its glory. Wrangell-St. Elias is the country’s biggest national park – so huge, in fact, that it could easily squeeze in Yellowstone six times over – encompassing four mountain ranges, ice fields, volcanic peaks and glaciers topped with lakes. The national preserve, in Alaska’s southeastern corner, provides plenty of roaming space for moose, mountain goats and brown and black bears. 
Slide 23 of 31: The pea-green pools of this desert plain look rather inviting – even spa-like. But these bubbling, boiling acidic springs aren’t really suitable for bathing. The entire area, in fact, resists exploration, with lakes of molten lava, crunchy salt formations, geysers and hissing volcanoes. It includes the village of Dallol, which many argue is the hottest inhabited place on earth with an average annual temperature of 95°F (35°C). It was settled by people employed to mine for salt – though this part of northern Ethiopia is otherwise pretty impenetrable.
Slide 24 of 31: This Inuit-run reserve is as remote as it gets, with more than 3,745 square miles (9,700sq km) of wonderful, windswept wilderness on Canada’s far north Labrador Peninsula. The Torngat Mountains form its jagged heart while a glorious patchwork of fjords, glaciers and rock-strewn meadows sprawls to a coastline where icebergs regularly drift past. There are no roads, trails or signs anywhere in the park, and its inaccessibility has allowed polar bears, caribou, Arctic foxes and wolves to thrive.
Slide 25 of 31: Three-quarters of this sandstone plateau and UNESCO World Heritage Site remains unexplored, which is a vast amount of land: it covers an area of the Sahara Desert that’s larger than Switzerland. It’s a striking yet unforgiving rocky labyrinth of natural bridges, buttresses, arches and bluffs, some towering at more than 4,756 feet (1,450m). The land and its inhabitants, which include a rare desert crocodile, are protected by African Parks. Take a look at the world's most stunning natural wonders.
Slide 26 of 31: There are stunning surprises at every turn in this little-visited national park, scattered across the landscape like handfuls of jewels. The pristine wilderness, in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, is known as the ‘Pearls of Tien Shan’ and shimmers with sapphire lakes, emerald forests and velvety mountains. Nearby Lake Kaindy is also a beauty, known for its underwater forest.
Slide 27 of 31: Denali National Park is home to North America's tallest peak, Denali, and is one of the best places to gaze at the aurora borealis or Northern Lights in winter. The park is a wild wonderland at any time of year, with six million acres of protected wilderness that includes dense alpine forests, mountains and glaciers. Its residents, who include wolves, dall sheep and brown bears, add to its importance. Note that some park facilities are currently closed. Take a look at America's most beautiful mountains to explore in fall.
Slide 28 of 31: A gloriously green patchwork quilt of a landscape makes up this wonderful wilderness area in Saarland, next to the border with France. Bliesgau was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009 due to its variety of soils, habitat types and microclimates, and its beech forests, orchards, rivers and meadows are home to enchanting flora and fauna including red kites, little owls and a variety of orchids, which bloom from the limestone-rich grasslands.
Slide 29 of 31: This watery wilderness in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest can only be fully explored by canoe or kayak, and even then it would pretty much take a lifetime of paddling to explore the 1,000-odd lakes, rivers and streams. It stretches along the border with Canada, creating a vast blanket of blue and green interrupted only by cliffs, canyons and shorelines laced with rocky and sandy beaches, often roamed by black bears. Check out more photos of America's most beautiful lakes.
Slide 30 of 31: The salt flats, volcanoes and jagged rock formations that lend such an eerie wildness to this desert plateau look like they’ve been finished with a wash of pink, so it’s apt that flocks of Andean flamingos are among the wildlife to make the unforgiving landscape home. The Atacama Desert covers 40,000 square miles (104,000sq km) to the west of Chile’s Andean Mountain spine and is the world’s driest non-polar desert, with virtually no rainfall.
Slide 31 of 31: Bringing drama to a vast expanse of southern Patagonia, this park close to the Chilean border is a wilderness within what’s already one of the world’s most remote regions. The designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is part of the Austral or Patagonian Andes and covers an area of 2,800 square miles (7,269sq km) with lakes, mountain peaks and glaciers including Perito Moreno, from which icebergs regularly crack and crash spectacularly into Lake Argentino below. Due to COVID-19, Argentina’s borders are currently closed to foreign travelers.

Remote control

While much of the planet has been built upon, occupied by sprawling cities and towns, there are areas where the world’s wildness is still preserved in all its diverse glory. There are even places that are so remote and resistant to development, they simply can’t be tamed. From national parks and designated wilderness areas that protect fauna and flora to deserted, inhospitable places where few have trodden, these are the most beautiful wild spots around the world. As always, remember to check travel restrictions and national park opening times and closures if planning a trip.

Black Elk Wilderness, South Dakota, USA

Black Elk Wilderness, named for the Oglala Sioux spiritual leader, is the only designated wilderness area in South Dakota’s enormous Black Hills National Forest, with more than 13,000 acres of preserved forests, granite peaks and mountain lakes. A highlight – and the highest point in the state – is Black Elk Peak, topped by a 1930s-built fire lookout tower made from native stone. Goats, mountain lions and wild turkeys are among the animals that roam the unforgiving landscape.

Tarkine, Tasmania, Australia

This forest wilderness on Tasmania is a wild tangle of giant tree ferns, moss-clad trees, roaring rivers and tucked-away waterfalls, leading to mountainous sand dunes and rugged beaches strewn with driftwood. However, Tarkine is under threat, with portions still vulnerable to logging and proposals to allow mining. Campaign group Save the Tarkine wants the area brought under UNESCO protection, citing its importance as one of the largest remaining areas of temperate rainforest, its biodiversity and role as habitat for the near-extinct Tasmanian devil.

Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland, UK

Around a 90-minute drive north of Inverness, Alladale is a resort second and a reserve first. The property has an all-inclusive lodge and self-catering cottages (reservations required) set amid 24,000 acres of Scotland’s last remaining wild spaces, once roamed by wolves. The rugged glens are carved by rivers and foraged by red deer and red squirrels, while the site’s re-wilding projects include planting native trees and breeding Scottish wild cats, once common in the area.

Northeast Greenland National Park, Greenland

Much of Greenland is covered by spellbinding and near-silent expanses of wilderness, including the protected 375,000 square miles (972,000sq km) that make up Greenland National Park in the northeast of the country. This is the world’s largest national park and relatively inaccessible, with few people able to regularly enter the land. Most visitors are only able to observe as part of an expedition. It’s exactly why the landscape of glaciers and snow-blanketed peaks, home to polar bears and giant walruses, remains so wonderfully wild and untamed.

Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan

Tigers, snow leopards and Asiatic wild dogs are among the elusive and enchanting animals to roam Jigme Dorji National Park, one of Bhutan’s largest preserves and among the most biodiverse. The Himalayan kingdom has a strong commitment to natural preservation – it’s written into the constitution that at least 60% of land is under forest cover, while more than 51% of the country is protected. It’s on UNESCO’s tentative list due to its rich wildlife and the semi-nomadic Layap communities that live in the park.

Cumberland Island, Georgia, USA

The biscuit-colored beaches and salt-sprayed forests of this island are roamed by wild horses, who graze on dune grass and sleep on the sand. The barrier island, which lies off Georgia’s southeastern coast, is also a nesting site for loggerhead sea turtles. Its 36,000 acres of wilderness have been designated a protected National Seashore due to the important wildlife and diverse habitats including wetlands and marshes.

Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, Republic of Ireland

Ireland’s first official wilderness zone, this national park is a wonderfully wild, wet and windswept terrain of blanket bog and mist-wrapped mountains. The park, in County Mayo, is also one of the most remote areas of the country. The Nephin Beg mountains dominate a vast landscape that’s home to red deer, otters and rare bird species including golden plovers and merlins. Note that the Ballycroy visitor center is currently closed.

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

The emerald-cloaked and snow-topped peaks that rise above Milford Sound are the most famous site in this national park, New Zealand’s largest and one of the world’s biggest protected areas. Its beauty has never been fully tamed, with native Maori people only venturing to this expanse of land to hunt and fish. And this is pure, unspoiled beauty, with lush rainforest clinging to steep mountain slopes and waterfalls that pour, like liquid silk, into mirror-like fjords, carved by glaciers and flooded by the sea. Explore the world’s most beautiful national parks here.

Peel Watershed, Canada

Peel Watershed covers around 30,000 square miles (77,000sq km), making it one of the largest swathes of untouched wilderness in North America. The biodiverse region, whose mountains and rivers provide habitat for wildlife including dall sheep and caribou, has been under threat of development because of its gas, iron and coal deposits. A recent ruling means around 80% of the land is now protected, following a lengthy battle between the Yukon government and a coalition of indigenous First Nations and environmental groups.

Namib Naukluft National Park, Namibia

This protected land, which sprawls out from Namibia’s Atlantic coast, incorporates some of the country’s most spectacular and diverse scenery, from the rolling red dunes of the Namib Desert to uninhabitable salt pans. The eerie white clay pan of Deadvlei, whose name means ‘dead marsh’, is dotted with dead trees and is blazingly white against the fiery dunes. It’s so boldly beautiful that it appears more like a painting or art installation than the results of nature – as does much of this striking park. Discover more places you won’t believe are on Earth here.

Hainich National Park, Germany

Swathes of native beeches are protected at the heart of Germany in Hainich National Park, whose past as a restricted military zone allowed the woodland to grow relatively undisturbed. The primeval beech forest, which is one of the last remaining in central Europe, now makes up a protected wilderness area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a canopy walk zigzagging through land roamed by lynx, wild cats and red deer.

Jiuzhaigou National Park, China

Every inch of Jiuzhaigou National Park, in China’s northern Sichuan province, is eye-poppingly pretty. The nature reserve is made up of several valleys, carved into alpine mountains that rise in spindly peaks. In between are limestone terraces, broad waterfalls, lakes and multicolored pools where the water appears in shimmering shades of turquoise and purple. The fauna is equally enchanting, with giant pandas and Sichuan takin – known as goat-antelopes – making this fairy-tale landscape home. Take a look at amazing images of Earth’s most colorful natural wonders here.

Rawah Wilderness, Colorado, USA

Named for an indigenous word for “wild place”, Rawah Wilderness looks like something airlifted in from the Austrian Alps. It’s a perfectly pretty landscape of glacier-carved valleys, limpid lakes, forested mountain slopes and meadows that erupt with colorful blooms each spring. Its 78,000 pristine acres, tucked between busier national forests Roosevelt and Routt, are roamed and grazed by bighorn sheep, elk, black bears and marmots. Note that the park is currently closed.

Kronotsky Reserve, Russia

Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula is a wild stretch of glaciers, geyser fields and volcanoes (many of them actively spitting and spouting) on the country’s eastern coast. The former Soviet military area is also home to tens of thousands of Kamchatka brown bears. Many live in the protected Kronotsky Reserve, where they fish for salmon from the shores of Lake Kurile, overlooked by the Ilyinsky volcano.

Everglades National Park, Florida, USA

Few parts of the US are as wild as Everglades National Park, with 1.5 million acres of preserved wetlands creating a floating patchwork of blues and greens. It’s a humbling glimpse of just what nature can do if left alone to thrive, with crocodiles, manatees, leatherback turtles and Florida panthers living among a landscape of coastal mangroves, marshes and pine forests.

Auyuittuq National Park, Canada

The elephant-gray peak of Mount Thor dominates this craggy landscape of granite rock, rivers, glaciers and fjords in Canada’s Arctic north. Auyuittuq National Park, on Baffin Island, is part of the country’s Nunavut region, where fewer than 40,000 people reside in an area that’s roughly the size of Western Europe. The barely-touched wilderness, which sees the midnight sun in summer, is rich in some of the world’s most beguiling wildlife, from polar bears and Arctic wolves to walruses and beluga whales. The park is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Lost Coast, California, USA

Some terrains simply refuse to be tamed, often meaning we’re left with some of the world’s most ruggedly beautiful landscapes. That’s definitely the case with this 25-mile (40km) portion of northern Californian coastline, which proved too wild for the state’s famous Pacific Coast Highway to continue through it. It begins where the road ends in Mendocino County, with foggy forests and trails leading to driftwood beaches providing a hikers’ paradise.

Daintree National Park, Queensland, Australia

Some of the trees in Queensland’s Daintree National Park are more than 2,500 years-old – while the rainforest itself is an even grander age of 110 million years, making this one of the world’s oldest ecosystems. The landscape of reefs, rivers and rainforests that stretch to the sea is also wonderfully untouched, protected by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people and providing precious habitat for wildlife including scarily tall, sapphire-feathered cassowaries. Check the park website for updates before planning a trip.

Pusch Ridge, Arizona, USA

This designated wilderness area is just outside Tucson but feels a world away from anything remotely resembling civilization. In the Santa Catalina Mountains and part of the Coronado National Forest, its peaks, canyons and rock formations provide a dramatic habitat for desert bighorn sheep. The diverse park encompasses subalpine forest, Sonoran desert and mountain slopes dotted with tall saguaro cacti, with its highest peaks reaching more than 9,000 feet (2,743m) above sea level. Note that the area is currently closed.

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar

The spindly, spiky limestone pinnacles of this national park are believed to be around 200 million years-old, and they are as impenetrable and inaccessible as their dramatic, jagged beauty suggests. Tsingy de Bemaraha, whose name means ‘the place where one cannot walk’, is a giant labyrinth of rock formations, lakes, mangroves, lakes and canyons, with just a few trails and rope bridges the only signs of human interference. It’s an important area for Madagascar’s wildlife, famous for its endemic reptiles and several species of endangered lemurs.

Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska, USA

America’s largest state is king when it comes to wilderness, with great swathes of the country given over to nature in all its glory. Wrangell-St. Elias is the country’s biggest national park – so huge, in fact, that it could easily squeeze in Yellowstone six times over – encompassing four mountain ranges, ice fields, volcanic peaks and glaciers topped with lakes. The national preserve, in Alaska’s southeastern corner, provides plenty of roaming space for moose, mountain goats and brown and black bears. 

Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

The pea-green pools of this desert plain look rather inviting – even spa-like. But these bubbling, boiling acidic springs aren’t really suitable for bathing. The entire area, in fact, resists exploration, with lakes of molten lava, crunchy salt formations, geysers and hissing volcanoes. It includes the village of Dallol, which many argue is the hottest inhabited place on earth with an average annual temperature of 95°F (35°C). It was settled by people employed to mine for salt – though this part of northern Ethiopia is otherwise pretty impenetrable.

Torngat Mountains National Park, Canada

This Inuit-run reserve is as remote as it gets, with more than 3,745 square miles (9,700sq km) of wonderful, windswept wilderness on Canada’s far north Labrador Peninsula. The Torngat Mountains form its jagged heart while a glorious patchwork of fjords, glaciers and rock-strewn meadows sprawls to a coastline where icebergs regularly drift past. There are no roads, trails or signs anywhere in the park, and its inaccessibility has allowed polar bears, caribou, Arctic foxes and wolves to thrive.

Ennedi Plateau, Chad

Three-quarters of this sandstone plateau and UNESCO World Heritage Site remains unexplored, which is a vast amount of land: it covers an area of the Sahara Desert that’s larger than Switzerland. It’s a striking yet unforgiving rocky labyrinth of natural bridges, buttresses, arches and bluffs, some towering at more than 4,756 feet (1,450m). The land and its inhabitants, which include a rare desert crocodile, are protected by African Parks. Take a look at the world’s most stunning natural wonders.

Kolsai Lakes, Kazakhstan

There are stunning surprises at every turn in this little-visited national park, scattered across the landscape like handfuls of jewels. The pristine wilderness, in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains close to the border with Kyrgyzstan, is known as the ‘Pearls of Tien Shan’ and shimmers with sapphire lakes, emerald forests and velvety mountains. Nearby Lake Kaindy is also a beauty, known for its underwater forest.

Denali National Park, Alaska, USA

Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest peak, Denali, and is one of the best places to gaze at the aurora borealis or Northern Lights in winter. The park is a wild wonderland at any time of year, with six million acres of protected wilderness that includes dense alpine forests, mountains and glaciers. Its residents, who include wolves, dall sheep and brown bears, add to its importance. Note that some park facilities are currently closed. Take a look at America’s most beautiful mountains to explore in fall.

Bliesgau UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Germany

A gloriously green patchwork quilt of a landscape makes up this wonderful wilderness area in Saarland, next to the border with France. Bliesgau was designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2009 due to its variety of soils, habitat types and microclimates, and its beech forests, orchards, rivers and meadows are home to enchanting flora and fauna including red kites, little owls and a variety of orchids, which bloom from the limestone-rich grasslands.

Boundary Waters, Minnesota, USA

This watery wilderness in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest can only be fully explored by canoe or kayak, and even then it would pretty much take a lifetime of paddling to explore the 1,000-odd lakes, rivers and streams. It stretches along the border with Canada, creating a vast blanket of blue and green interrupted only by cliffs, canyons and shorelines laced with rocky and sandy beaches, often roamed by black bears. Check out more photos of America’s most beautiful lakes.

Atacama Desert, Chile

The salt flats, volcanoes and jagged rock formations that lend such an eerie wildness to this desert plateau look like they’ve been finished with a wash of pink, so it’s apt that flocks of Andean flamingos are among the wildlife to make the unforgiving landscape home. The Atacama Desert covers 40,000 square miles (104,000sq km) to the west of Chile’s Andean Mountain spine and is the world’s driest non-polar desert, with virtually no rainfall.

Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Bringing drama to a vast expanse of southern Patagonia, this park close to the Chilean border is a wilderness within what’s already one of the world’s most remote regions. The designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is part of the Austral or Patagonian Andes and covers an area of 2,800 square miles (7,269sq km) with lakes, mountain peaks and glaciers including Perito Moreno, from which icebergs regularly crack and crash spectacularly into Lake Argentino below. Due to COVID-19, Argentina’s borders are currently closed to foreign travelers.

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