Currently in its 12th year, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, 2 teams of professional outdoor educators, have reached over 10 million people in 48 states with Leave No Trace education and training.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rocky Road

We facilitated a Leave No Trace Trainer Course in Acadia National Park earlier this year. It was a great course with lots of discussions about outdoor ethics! One conversation that came up during the principle of "Leave What You Find" was the practice of rock stacking. It was the first time that this issue had ever been brought up during one of our courses and opinions ranged from finding rock stacks beautiful to offensive. At the time, we had not given much thought to the carefully balanced rocks we had occasionally seen along trails.

So, why months later are we still contemplating the question of rock stacking? Well, we recently had the opportunity to hike in Bryce Canyon National Park and came across a portion of trail that was covered with thousands of rocks balancing upon each other. The sight immediately brought to mind the "Leave What You Find" conversation we had back in Acadia National Park and we could see why there had been such varied feelings towards the activity. While one artfully balanced rock stack can be quite beautiful, seeing these stacks in such a large quantity in a national park felt somewhat disconcerting.

What are your thoughts on rock stacking?


BearLeader said...

I am against it. It definitely violates Leave No Trace. It disturbs the physical environment as the rocks are moved. It disturbs the view as it is no longer natural. Also it creates a potential dangerous situation should the rock pile fall on someone's hand or foot. It just goes against too much of the LNT philosophy.

Brian said...

I think the rock stacking is mostly unnecessary. Especially to the degree that you describe and is pictured.

I certainly understand leaving the rocks where they are and how that aligns with LNT Principles but I can also appreciate having rocks stacked to show a trail when there is little else to go on (above timberline).