Rock balancing

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A rock pile in Sausset-les-Pins, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

Rock balancing or stone balancing (stone or rock stacking) is an art, hobby, or form of vandalism[1] in which rocks are naturally balanced on top of one another in various positions without the use of adhesives, wires, supports, rings or any other contraptions which would help maintain the construction's balance. The number of rock piles created in this manner in natural areas has recently begun to worry conservationists because they can misdirect hikers, expose the soil to erosion, aesthetically intrude upon the natural landscape, and serve no purpose.[2][3]

2014 Rock Stacking World Championship in Llano, Texas


Some visitors to natural areas who wish to experience nature in its undisturbed state object to this practice, especially when it intrudes on public spaces such as national parks, national forests and state parks.[4] The practice of rock balancing is claimed to be able to be made without changes to nature; environmental artist Lila Higgings has defended it as compatible with leave-no-trace ideals if rocks are used without impacting wildlife and are later returned to their original places,[5] and some styles of rock balancing are short-lived. However, "disturbing or collecting natural features (plants, rocks, etc.) is prohibited" in U.S. national parks because these acts may harm the flora and fauna dependent on them.[6]

Notable artists[edit]

  • Adrian Gray, UK artist specialising in stone balancing sculptures and photography
  • Andy Goldsworthy, artist for whom rock balancing is a minor subset of his "Collaborations with Nature"
  • Bill Dan, American artist
  • Michael Grab, balance artist and photographer, born Alberta, Canada[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Associated Press. "Rock 'Cairn' Vandalism Marks Petroglyph Park in New Mexico". AP. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  2. ^ Fessenden, Marissa (July 13, 2020). "Conservationists Want You to Stop Building Rock Piles". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  3. ^ Barkham, Patrick (August 17, 2018). "Stone-stacking: cool for Instagram, cruel for the environment". The Guardian. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  4. ^ "Home – Leave No Trace". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  5. ^ Newman, Andy (July 3, 2008). "It's Not Easy Picking a Path to Enlightenment". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Park Regulations – Canyonlands National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Krulwich, Robert (January 5, 2013). "A Very, Very, Very Delicate Balance". NPR. Retrieved June 15, 2020.

External links[edit]