Stacked rocks near water

Why You Shouldn't Stack Stones When Hiking In A National Park

By Mina Elwell


A pile of rocks by the side of a trail is known as a rock cairn. They may look cool, but when it comes to making new ones, the National Park Service is very clear: Don't do it.
Official cairns are used in some national parks to keep backpackers from getting lost when hiking through remote areas of the park. If you make your own, it could confuse hikers.
On some national park hikes, accidentally wandering off the trail due to an unofficial cairn can put you at risk of running out of supplies while trying to get back on track.
Changing the environment by building rock cairns is also disruptive. Since building them has become a trend, hundreds of visitors may move the rocks around, causing issues.
In a 2018 Facebook post, Zion National Park stated, "Moving rocks around still can lead to resource damage by exposing soil to wind and water erosion."