Is Rock Stacking Graffiti?

I wrote recently about people feeling free to scratch their names into the salt beds at Badwater in Death Valley National Park and whether we should be ambivalent toward this “temporary” graffiti. Even if nature can eventually erase it, doesn’t it just encourage others to mark more areas of our national parks with their names where it’s not nearly as easy for nature to remove the graffiti?

Here is another one of those questions that I recently began to wonder about with a recent trip to Yosemite National Park. Just beyond Mirror Lake to the left is a large area that has been completely taken over by rock stacking. There are literally thousands of rocks which have been stacked and balanced by people completely transforming this are from its natural state:

rock stacking near mirror lake

rock stacking mirror lake

rock stacking Yosemite

The first reaction from most of the people who stumbled across it was the thought it might be a cemetery of some type, but it quickly becomes apparent that people simply decided to begin stacking rocks and continue to do so. While many would not consider this being nearly as disruptive as people scratching their name into sandstone or spray painting their name on walls, isn’t rock stacking nothing more than another way of leaving a type of graffiti in our national parks by moving nature into unnatural arrangements? Just because it looks better than a name written on a rock, does that make it OK to do?

What do you think? Is rock stacking fundamentally different from other types of graffiti and therefore OK, or is it something that should be discouraged just as much as what we would consider typical graffiti?

Gold Bluffs Beach Redwood National Park

When you think of Redwood National Park, the first image that comes to mind usually isn’t the beach. That’s a shame because there are some beautiful beaches which are part of the Redwood National and State Parks. Gold Bluffs Beach is one of these.

Located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (CA), you need to turn off highway 101 onto Davison Road at Elk Meadow (There is a large sign for Elk Meadow overlook — when you reach the Elk Meadow overlook, continue straight onto the dirt road). Davison Road winds its way through beautiful redwood groves until it reaches the sea. Once you hit the shoreline, you leave Redwood National Park and enter Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (there is a state park fee to enter). While most people head to Fern Canyon and bypass the beach all together, this is a mistake. The beach is vast with very few people (because they are all heading to see the redwoods) making it a perfect place to take a long stroll in near solitude:

Gold Bluffs Beach in Redwood National Park

For those who don’t feel like walking, there are plenty of ocean-worn rocks littering the beach to look at and admire:

Rocks in sand at Gold Bluffs Beach in Redwoods National Park

And for those with a little bit of ambition, the rocks are perfectly shaped to have some fun stacking them:

Stacking rocks at Gold Bluffs Beach Prairie Creek Redwoods state park California

While the redwoods are obviously the main attraction at Redwood National Park, try to take some time to visit the beach as well. You won’t regret it.