10 Impressive Inselberg Formations

An inselberg, commonly called monadnock in the United States, is a prominent hill or rocky mass rising out of a plain. Inselbergs are one of the top rock formation tourist destinations. They are also favorite sites for hiking and climbing.

Jugurtha's Table (Tunisia)

Jugurtha’s Table lies 60 km (37 mi) southwest of El Kef, a small city northwest of Tunisia. The stunning rock formation was named after the Libyan King of Numidia (present day Algeria) who fought a mighty battle against the occupying Romans, using the massive flat topped rock as a fortress. The mountain can be seen as far as 50 km (31 mi) away, rising 1200 m (3,937 ft) out of the Tunisia-Algerian border plains. It looks almost perfectly flat as if it was somehow been flattened by man. The inselberg appears barren but when you climb the top you can see Roman ruins, arches and walls, huge Roman cisterns dug deep into the stone to catch rain water and tiny beehive-like house dating from prehistoric times. In spring, its 800,000 sq m surface is covered with wild flowers.

Pilot Mountain (USA)

One of the most distinguished natural features in the state of North Carolina, USA is a 738 m (2,421 ft) high quartzite inselberg called Pilot Mountain. The name came from its original Native American name Jomeoke, meaning “great guide” or “pilot” as the distinctive structure served as a guide to the earliest inhabitants of the region. The Mountain has two distinctive knobs, named Big and Little Pinnacle. The vegetation covered rounded top of the Big Pinnacle, also called “The Knob” (shown here) rises 430 m (1,400 ft) high above the surrounding terrain.

Mount Mulanje (Malawi)

Rising sharply from the surrounding terrain of Chiradzulu Malawi, Mulanje Massif also called Mount Mulanje is a massive inselberg with a maximum summit elevation of 3,002 m. Just like Stone Mountain, Mulanje was formed as a result of the upwelling of magma from the earth’s crust millions of years ago. Its existence was first revealed to the world in 1859 by David Livingstone although archeological exploration reveals evidence of human visits as early as the Stone Age. The rock formation is part of the protected Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve.

Stone Mountain (USA)

Stone Mountain is a 251 m (825 ft) high granite dome inselberg in Georgia, USA. The structure was formed as a result of the gush of magma from within the Earth’s crust. The magma hardened to form granite within the crust 8-16 km (5-10 miles) below the surface. The mountain is also defined as a quartz monzonite rock and is famous not only as a rock formation but also for its north face sculptured artwork, the largest bas-relief in the world, where three figures of the Confederate States of America are carved on the huge rock. Stone Mountain has a base circumference of more than 8 km (5 miles).

Suilven (Scotland)

One of the most distinctive mountain in Scotland is Suilven, a rock formation which is made up of Torridonian sandstone. The structure rises from a wilderness landscape of moorland, bogs and lochans known as Inverpolly. Suilven forms a steep-sided ridge about 2 km high. The dome-shaped western summit of the ridge is the 731m (2399 ft) high Caisteal Liath (Grey Castle). The 723 m high central point is called Meall Meadhonach (Round Middle Hill), and at the eastern end sits Meall Beag (Round Little Hill). The mountain is a favorite site for hiking and climbing.

Mount Monadnock (USA)

Mount Monadnock or Grand Monadnock is known as one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world. Rising at 965 m (3,165 ft) high, the inselberg is the highest point in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, USA.  It’s bare and isolated peak provides expansive views of the surrounding landscape. The mountain’s name is where the American term monadnock originated.

Mount Cheminis (Canada)

Mount Cheminis is a dome shaped inselberg sitting on the Ontario-Quebec border of Canada.  When traveling east on the Trans-Canada highway 66, it can be seen rising 500 m (1,640 ft) above sea level looking like a mirage in the distance. The rock was discovered in the 1600’s by French explorers. Legend has it that the inselberg was used as a place of sacrifice by the earliest settlers of the area. Mount Cheminis is sometimes called Mont Chaudron or Sugar-loaf Mountain; it is a remnant of the last ice age.

Enchanted Rock (Texas, USA)

About 15 miles (24 km) north of Fredericksburg, Texas, USA sits Enchanted Rock, a huge pink granite pluton rock formation. The inselberg covers approximately 2.6 sq km (640 acres) and rises 130 m (425 ft) above the surrounding landscape. The structure was formed as the surrounding sedimentary rock was exposed to erosion. It got its name from the early Native American settlers who believe the rock has magical and spiritual powers. Enchanted Rock is a favorite site for hiking and camping in central Texas.

Uluru (Australia)

Uluru or Ayers Rock is not only one of the most renowned inselberg, but is one of the most famous rock formations in the world. The 348 m (1,142 ft) high sandstone sitting in the Northern Territory of Australia is a sacred site to the Aboriginal people of the area. It has many springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. It is also famous for appearing to change color as different light strikes at different times of the day and year, with sunset a particularly stunning sight as it briefly glows red. Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sugarloaf Mountain (Brazil)

Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janiero, Brazil is another world renowned rock formation and favorite tourist destination. The name of the 396 m (1,299 ft) high peak is said to refer to the rock’s resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. Some people believed that the name was derived from the word Pau-nh-acuaqua (high hill) in the Tupi-Guarani dialect. The prominent inselberg is one of the several granite and quartz monoliths that rise straight from the water’s edge of the Brazilian capital. Sugarloaf looks so familiar, the mere sight of it in a movie is enough to tell that the setting is in Rio.