Several years ago, while on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN, I began building cairns and taking photos of them. I post the photos on social media quite often and usually get asked by at least one person, “Why do you do this?” The other question I am asked is, “What is a cairn anyway?” So, we will start by answering that question first.

Definition of cairn: a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark
Beach Cairn Rock Tower Coquina Stones Blog Article
Cairn on Marineland Beach in St. Augustine, FL

Why Build a Cairn?

The answer to the question of why I build them? There are a few reasons.  The first is because my husband is a landscape photographer.  While he is setting up to take a spectacular photograph, I often have time to sit by a stream and balance rocks.  Which leads me to the second reason why I build cairns.  It is therapeutic y’all!  I find such a peace in searching for the perfect rocks and spending time trying to stack them as high as I can.  The third reason is because I love to leave my mark.  It serves as a conversation piece for those who follow behind me on the trail, on the beach or down the creek.

Where to Build a Cairn?

Anywhere!  Anywhere you can find rocks that will stack anyway.  I am obsessed with trying to build my cairns taller and build them using more difficult rocks to stack.  My kids even ask now, “How many rocks did you stack this time?” I have built cairns just about everywhere we have vacationed since we visited FoxFire Mountain, near Gatlinburg. I caught the bug after that trip and have built them in Shenandoah National Park, the creeks of Indiana, the beaches of Florida, and the mountains of Georgia, to name a few.

Waterfall Cairn Enota Campgrounds Georgia Travel Blog Article

Take Your Cairn to the Next Level!

I absolutely love that my friends tag me in their cairn pictures when they are on vacation now.  I can’t help but think that I might have inspired them to take a few quiet moments to stack some rocks and enjoy that same peace I find when I do so.  I’m officially that crazy cairn friend that they think of when they see one and I love that!  I started a Pinterest board to pin inspirational cairn photos of new ideas and more challenging stacks that I would like to try.  I honestly can’t wait to find the next spot to build something awesome!

Cairn Travel Photography Trail Hiking Blog Article

Have You Built a Cairn?

Tell me about your cairn building experiences!  Share photos with me and tell me about the fun places you visited when you built one.  I would love to hear from you!

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