Water is responsible for both the whimsical shape and colorful banding of these mountains. The beehive-shaped mounds are made of sandstone and other conglomerate rocks, deposited in the area by the meandering braids of ancient rivers.
Water has also created the colorful bands that circle the Bungle Bungles. Where layers of the rock are soft, water seeps in, allowing dark algae to grow in black bands. The orange bands are made by a thin layer of iron and manganese, which coats layers of the rock, making them less permeable to water.