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 and very Zen.

With summer travel and all of us spending so much more time outdoors, this is a good reminder on why not all rock towers are created equal.

However, these rock towers are illegal in our National Parks, according to the Hiking Authority. They're considered vandalism and here's why.

You're not only disturbing the natural environment, the creation of life, and even wildlife, there's also the danger of weather knocking them down causing injury to animals and even us humans.

Yugarya Goyal
Yugarya Goyal

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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