Yosemite National Park rock stacking PSA
Yosemite National Park rock stacking PSA

Doesn’t get more simple and to the point than this simple video posted by Yosemite National Park about what to do if you come across one of those rock stacks on visit, follow the actions of this Wilderness Restoration Ranger and knock it over! While it may give you pause to destroy what you might perceive as someone’s attempt at art, dismantling rock stacks, also known as cairns, is in keeping with Yosemite’s Leave No Trace ethics code which includes leaving rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Busting up cairns might seem childish like a toddler knocking over blocks for the sheer enjoyment of seeing them fall, its actually very much encouraged and is a most satisfying thing to do at any age:


Should you knock this over??


Why did Wilderness Restoration Rangers dismantle this rock cairn? According to Leave No Trace ethics when we recreate in wilderness spaces, our goal is to leave no signs of our impact on the land and respect other creatures living in it. Unfortunately, this dramatically oversized cairn is a mark of human impact and is distracting in a wilderness setting. Building rock cairns also disturbs small insects, reptiles, and microorganisms that call the underside home!

When used appropriately, rock cairns are great for navigation, safety, and delineating a new or hard-to-follow trail. In general, rock cairns should only be constructed by rangers and trail workers. Please dismantle and refrain from building rock cairns when you visit Yosemite. Check local recommendations when you visit other places.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

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