I've seen them, and I'm sure you have, too. Rocks are stacked and balanced in various formations on hiking trails, beaches, and in deserts. There's actually something artful about it.

Unfortunately, these rock towers can be dangerous and harmful to the environment, and that's why they're not legal in any of our National Parks, according to the Hiking Authority. It's considered vandalism, and you can be fined.

According to The New Yorker, Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, used the help of several volunteers to destroy nearly thirty-five hundred rock stacks on two mountains alone in 2016 and 2017.

Here's why.

Yugarya Goyal
Yugarya Goyal

You're not only disturbing the natural environment. There's also the danger of weather knocking them down, humans disturbing them by adding to them, or wildlife bothering them, which makes injury a real possibility.

In reality, according to the Ausable River Association, we shouldn't be building rock cairns (as they're called anywhere), even if rules and laws don't exist because of the above reasons.

Ausable River Association says the impact on the ecosystem is detrimental because fish lay eggs between rocks for protection, so moving them is destroying possible life and the natural order of things.

Also, it goes against the idea of leaving no trace when we hike, bike, swim, and play in natural areas.  We as humans should leave the smallest mark possible when visiting parks, rivers, and beaches, whether it's illegal or not.

Spencer Bergen
Spencer Bergen

I'm glad our national parks made it illegal, and just so you know, always double-check any rules in city and state-owned parks and beaches. They may have rules against rock stacking and balancing.

By the way, rock balancing is a practice that’s been going on for 4,000 years, and although it's not clear why stone and rock stacking became a thing, experts speculate it's for either navigation or religious purposes and burial plots.

By the way, they're officially called rock cairns. The word 'cairn' comes from a Gaelic term that means “heap of stones."

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