11 Natural Phenomena to See This Autumn

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews

Fall is arguably the most beautiful season of the year, with thousands of people flocking to see the annual displays of colorful leaves all over the world.

However, there’s much more to autumn than the traditional brilliant colors associated with these leaf shows. Mother Nature offers up some stunning phenomena during the fall months that must be seen to be believed.

Here are some unusual, beautiful and memorable sights that can only be found in fall. Put some or all of them on your bucket list, and prepare to be amazed.

1. Staircase to the Moon

Along the coast of Australia, the reflection of the full moon rising over mudflats creates a stunning optical illusion: that of a staircase rising in the sky. It can be seen for three nights every month from March through October, and is an especially big deal in the town of Broome.

2. Snow Geese Migration

In the fall, snow geese begin their annual migration from the Arctic Tundra to the southern east coast of the United States. Flocks can easily number into the thousands, making for a stunning visual display. The best place to see them touch down is at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri.

3. Tallulah Gorge Dam Release

Scheduled dam releases at the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia in September, October and November create a stunning whitewater river. Visit Tallulah Gorge State Park to see this man-made phenomena from the various trails or the suspension bridge. The gorge itself is two miles long and 1,000 feet deep, and offers gorgeous views in the fall.

4. Swallow Massing

During their fall migration, tree swallows gather in large masses at Goose Island in Connecticut. At dusk, these birds flock in huge spiral and funnel shapes in the sky before landing on the island in communal roosts.

5. Shadow of the Bear

In the mountains off of Highway 64 in North Carolina, a shadow forms from mid-October to early November that resembles that of a bear. It only makes its appearance for 30 minutes beginning at 5:30 p.m. as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain.

6. Caribou Migration

Every fall, beginning in late August to mid-October, the North American caribou—aka reindeer—begin their annual migration as temperatures drop in northern Alaska. They travel to the south and then make their return trip as temperatures begin to rise—a loop of about 1,600 miles.

7. Black Sun

During the months of October and November in Denmark, the migration of the European starling literally turns the sun black. During their annual journey home, millions of these birds appear in the sky at sunset, blocking the sun’s light.

8. Coral Spawning

The Caribbean island of Bonaire is host to coral spawning during the months of September and October. The coral begins spawning in the days following a full moon, filling the waters with pink, orange and white polyps that float with the currents.

9. Monarch Butterfly Migration

Beginning in October, monarch butterflies begin their migration from the cold regions of the United States and Canada to the warmer climes of Mexico and southern California. They travel in huge flocks by day and roost in pine, cedar and fir trees overnight. The best place to see them is at the in Mexico.

10. Cano Cristales River Colors

Every fall, an aquatic plant turns the Cano Cristales River, located in Serrania de la Macarena National Park in Columbia, into beautiful shades of red, orange, blue, green and yellow. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the liquid rainbow.

11. Sunrise and Sunset

The Brunswick Islands in North Carolina offer the rare opportunity to see both the sunrise and sunset over the same horizon. These islands run east to west parallel to the shore, making it possible in late fall to see this phenomena from Oak Island, Ocean Isle or Holden Beach.

Whether you venture to one of these locales to see these phenomena or stay closer to home to view those changing leaves, be sure to make the most of what this stunning fall season has to offer.

Photo bybark

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