The Unique Natural Domes in America

Rock domes are in and of themselves unique, but we wanted to find the most unique domes in the country. Almost everyone has seen or taken pictures of iconic Half Dome as it stands tall in one of the most popular national parks in the US. But there are many other geologically created domes around the country that are worth visiting. Some are typical granite domes while others were formed by volcanoes, geothermal activities, and maybe even meteorites. Below is our list of the unique domes in America.

Half Dome, California

Yosemite National Park is in the California Sierra Nevada mountains.

Half Dome is the best known of many granite domes in California’s Yosemite National Park and it is only half there. Actually geologists think that the majority of the dome is still there (about 80%) and it’s just an optical illusion that half is missing. A hiking trail ascends this bald rock that was once considered unclimbable. Yosemite has the highest concentration of rock domes in America. Nearby domes include Sentinel Dome, Moraine Dome, Liberty Cap, and North Dome.

Upheaval Dome, Utah

Upheaval Dome in Utah satellite photo

This unique dome (anticline) was created naturally but how? There have been several theories, but recent studies indicate that it was an impact crater from a meteorite. Upheaval Dome is located in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park and has a hiking trail ascending from the famous White Rim Road on the banks of the Green River. The rest of us cheaters can drive the paved park road to a short trail leading to an overlook on the crater rim. Learn more about the impact craters in the US.

Mount St. Helens Lava Dome, Washington

Wildflowers Trail Mount Saint Helens National Park Washington

This is the most recently created dome on this list. Soon after the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the volcano started to rebuild itself by creating a lava dome in the crater. Since then it has grown considerably. To see this dome you’ll need to visit Washington State’s Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument and decide whether to take pictures from the observatory on Johnston Ridge (distant) or from the summit by climbing the peak (up close and personal). Learn about the unknown volcanoes in Washington.

Homestead Crater Mineral Dome, Utah

Homestead Crater Dome Mineral Hot Springs Utah

Homestead Crater Dome is on the property of a privately-owned hot springs resort. It is unique indeed as this 55-foot tall dome houses a crater filled with hot mineral water where visitors can soak, swim, snorkel, and even scuba dive! Don’t want to get wet? Then just take a guided tour of this natural phenomenon. It’s located near Heber City and less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, Utah. Learn more about the dome at the resort website.

Clingmans Dome, Tennessee & North Carolina

The observation deck of Clingman's Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Clingmans Dome is not a unique by itself, in fact there are many other forested round mountains called domes on the East Coast. Clingmans happens to be one of the most popular outdoor attractions in the Appalachian Range. A paved road winds up to a parking lot just below the summit of this peak on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. What makes Clingmans Dome unique is the summit platform high above the trees with 360 degree views. Looking Glass Rock is a granite dome nearby that has a hiking trail to the summit.

Morro Rock, California

The Morro Rock From Montana De Oro State Park

Morro Rock is a round volcanic plug standing nearly 600 feet above the adjacent beach in the town of Morro Bay, California. This iconic dome-shaped rock is the subject of many photos by tourists driving Coastal Highway 1. For almost a century Morro Rock was quarried to build jetties and other structures nearby so it’s not as round as it once was. Climbing on the rock is no longer allowed as it has been protected as a state preserve. Haystack Rock in Oregon is a similar volcanic dome on a beach, but it’s smaller in size.

Stone Mountain, Georgia

The Confederate Memorial at the Stone Mountain Park in Georgia

Stone Mountain is a large granite dome near Atlanta, Georgia. This popular park has been the source of controversy over time. A confederate sculpture is carved into the north face of the mountain and the KKK is closely connected to the history there. Those who want to visit the summit can take a hiking trail or a tram.

Obsidian Dome, California

Obsidian Dome Mono Lakes Mammoth Lakes California

Obsidian Dome is a broad-shaped dome that was created when molten obsidian-rich volcanic lava was squeezed up through a hole in the Earth’s crust. It’s part of an area known as the Mono Craters near Mono Lake and the town of Mammoth Lakes on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Range. The area is filled with volcanic buttes and domes including Crater Mountain, Wilson Butte, South Deadman Dome, and Lookout Mountain which you can drive to the top of.

Related Places

Mountain State
Half Dome CA
Half Dome Trail CA
Yosemite National Park CA
Sentinel Dome CA
Moraine Dome CA
Liberty Cap CA
North Dome CA
Upheaval Dome UT
Upheaval Dome Trail UT
Canyonlands National Park UT
White Rim Trail UT
Lava Dome in Mt. St. Helens WA
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument WA
Johnston Ridge WA
Homestead Crater Mineral Dome UT
Heber City UT
Clingmans Dome TN
Looking Glass Rock NC
Morro Rock CA
Morro Bay CA
Haystack Rock OR
Stone Mountain GA
Obsidian Dome CA
Crater Mountain CA
Wilson Butte CA
South Deadman Dome CA
Lookout Mountain Inyo National Forest CA
Mono Craters CA
Mono Lake CA
Mammoth Lakes CA