Video of a river rock balancer


90 Responses to “Video of a river rock balancer”

  1. gwailo_joe says:

    Totally awesome.  I sometimes attempt rock-stacking at Ocean Beach (on a smaller and far less skillful scale, admittedly)…it’s meditative and fun.

    That guys’ feet must be freezing though…

  2. gwailo_joe says:

    oops.  I see he’s wearing footgear.  Very wise.

  3. Flashman says:

    Reminiscent of Len Tukwilla.

  4. benbark says:

    ah.  you are from boulder.  as a current resident i can say that makes some sense.

  5. Lane Yarbrough says:

    Voodoo! Witchcraft! 

  6. MollyMaguire says:

    Very nice.
    Andrew Goldworthy-ish.

  7. Tuff Luke says:

    It’s too bad there isn’t a clear shot of him placing a rock in what appears to be an impossible way, then letting it go, allowing it to miraculously stand on its own

  8. MollyMaguire says:

    Wait a second. This post and the one about the levitating yogis aren’t related, are they?

  9. Randwulf says:

    Reminds me of the Humber River rock balancing that got people here aflutter.

  10. spiderking says:

    People have been rock balancing on the beaches of Vancouver since at least the mid ’90s. It would be nice if this guy at least tried to explain his influences without all the new age babble.

  11. Ally McGurk says:

    Haven’t you come across Bill Dan, the king of the rock balancers?
    I’ve done a few small ones myself, but you need infinite time and patience to do it properly, and he spends all day at it. Master craftsman.

  12. Spriggan_Prime says:

    ‘shopped. I can tell by the pixels!

    • JustWatching says:

       I saw these rock stacks last Thursday.  Funny, I couldn’t see the bad pixels in real life.  Maybe your pshop detection algorithm needs a touch up.

      • Spriggan_Prime says:

        I think your sarcasm meter is broken or perhaps your subscription to “popular internet memes of days gone by” needs to be renewed

        • JustWatching says:

          apologies, good sir.   Rereading with a fresh mind, with a sharp rap to the side of the sarcasm meter, makes me think a refresher course in stale memes might be in order.

  13. digdog says:

    If you do that in Japan, that means many children died in that river.

  14. t3kna2007 says:

    Makes me think of Myst.  Very cool.

  15. franko says:

    there was a guy who used to come through reno every fall (or was it spring?) about a decade ago or so and he would always spend time doing this with rocks in the Truckee river. they would appear over a weekend, like magic. i used to look forward to seeing them. i haven’t seen anyone around here doing that in a long time.

  16. Timothy Reeves says:

    That park is a short walk from the house my grandparents lived in, 474 Arapahoe. I see from Google Maps / Street View that the house was torn down and replaced with a bigger house making the backyard smaller. I only got to visit there a few times but good memories all. Used to be a little mom and pop grocery store on the corner on the way to the park, I think it was Steele’s Store, but my memory may be wrong. Looks like it is a hair salon now.

  17. Flashman says:

    Comparing this guy to Andy Goldsworthy would be taken as a grave insult I’m sure.

  18. betsydornbusch says:

    I live in Boulder and last winter someone set up these sculptures all the way to Winter Park Ski Resort where we go every weekend.

    This is quintessential Boulder.

  19. bobledrew says:

    I’m lucky enough to live near the Ottawa, Ontario version of this guy, Jose Ceprano: 

  20. miasm says:

    racing at speed-stacking stones is one of my favourite beach-party games.
    You get to keep a hand on the top-most stone the whole time but you’d be surprised at how stable some towers are.
    Anybody who’s tower stands after letting go drinks double.

  21. pauljodi says:

    No, this is wrong. 

    What is with the human compulsion to alter every frickin’ environment we come across?The stones were home to insect larvae, crayfish and all sorts of things. It was beautiful on its own before you messed it up.  Leave the river alone.

  22. Mr_Smooth says:

    I have encountered these constructions while snipe hunting.

  23. Andrew Munoz says:

    This isn’t art. This is vandalism. No one has the right to alter a natural public space without the consent of the people. How selfish and thoughtless this is! And now that it is gaining popularity people are starting to do this in national parks, wrecking the natural beauty and scenic values that they were created to preserve for eternity. When ever I see this crap I usually knock them down. Hopefully this is a shortlived fad. It makes my stomach turn thinking that people think this is OK on public property.

    • kmoser says:

      I was wondering who tossed those rocks about so carelessly! You put them back in all the wrong places, making the landscape look like a shambles. Don’t you know it’s supposed to be big, medium, big, big, little, medium, small, small, big, tiny, medium? Get it right next time! It’s people like you who give entropy a bad name.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You know that the rocks are just going to fall back into the river?  And that small rocks move around in rivers every year during floods?  So next year, it’s right back to being scenic for all eternity.

      • malcreant says:

        The point you are missing, Antinous, is that those of us looking for natural beauty end up having to look at goofy attempts at self-expression until the flood waters wipe it out.  As you mention, that could be a year or more.  The “sculptures” in this particular video may not last very long but it encourages other people to do the same.  I have seen river beds trashed by well meaning but clueless “artists” in NH and VT.

        Let sleeping rocks lie.

    • So you also go around knocking down sand castles, right?

    • Gulliver says:

      So can I dismantle your bike, car and/or tent? May I kick over your child’s sandcastles and snowmen? I assume none are approved by the Munoz Committee for Pious Landscaping.

    • JustWatching says:

      they were created to preserve for eternity.—  Lighten thou up.  A few stacked rocks for a couple of months, tops, is nothing.  You should see that creek  during spring runoff. Guarantee those little rocks will be distributed back with the rest of the creek bottom.

      See the big rocks on the bottom, the river moved them into place, too.  Little ricks don’t have a change in this world.

  24. Seancho says:

    The guy’s website is pretty impressive:

  25. Lynn says:

    Mark, if you’re ever up the 101 in Ventura, there’s a rock balancing “park” of sorts at the beach behind the fairgrounds.  I thought people had just taken to stacking stones, as the beach has been under reconstruction back there, but there are four carved instructional stones, showing a series of rocks being stacked one on top of another.  It’s really quite clever, and a great way to get the kids involved in hands on nature and art.  (Stacking park, instructional stone.)

  26. dannyboy7 says:

    I’m sorry, but I call BS until he can show video of himself placing a rock and then taking his hand off of it. If you look at this video, all he ever does is place a rock (without taking his hands off of it) or take his hands off of a rock (without us seeing him place it). Actually, the only reason I can think of to believe this is that the activity is too pointless to bother faking. :P

  27. MonkeyRobo says:

    I remember encountering these in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, back in ’91. A lovely surprise.

  28. KimberlyClarke says:

    I love it (tho particularly when it’s new-age-free) and If you are in the UK and want to see it in action come down to the beach in Lyme Regis and watch Adrian Gray, he’s here most days during the summer unless it’s really windy.

  29. i_prefer_yeti says:

    Cheeeeeeriiiist, what a load of straight-up negativity on this here thread.

    Hell, when I came out of my work today I encountered a rather sloppily stacked pile of human feces. I’d much preferred this fella’s stone stackin’ any day.
    Hey, mister Grab, if you’re hankerin’ for a new venue, come on down to SoMa. I’ll provide some rocks for you to work with. 

  30. Kalle says:

    Humans are a part of nature too.

  31. liquidstar says:

    This is a really hard thing to do.  If you doubt that, go out and try it yourself.

  32. anyone who kicks over balanced stones… i hope it lands on your big toe and you go home even grumpier than you were and your underwear rides up your craque and you get chafed and the next time you do it it happens again and you just keep doing it until you die a sad, unimpressable, lonely, uncreative slag.

  33. pauljodi says:

    When you come across vandalism like this rock re-arranging crap, kick it over.

    The ego-maniacs who rip apart rivers will eventually get the idea that their desecration of nature will not be tolerated.

  34. shun2u says:

    Omg!! Awesome job! Cool!

  35. Been doing this for awhile and all the local residents loved seeing it appear near the waterfront. Family’s walking by would often have their children join in while I teach them; good for mom and dad if their kids get addicted to cheap free toys like rocks :D

  36. Also I don’t mind if people knock mine down, the entire art is a lesson in impermanence anyways. Can’t stop people if they want to be jerks so i’ll just continue stacking for fun.

    • Gulliver says:

      There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.”

  37. hanoirockz says:

    I’m so glad there is others voicing their annoyance with this egocentric new-age non-sense.  I have made hikes into several spots in N. California where the landscape is marred with unnatural constructs.  Looks stupid, carried out with stupid intentions (uhh yeah man its about meditation and balance and uhhh, nature! yeah) and I would argue it teaches kids the opposite of what should be taught about parks and nature (namely enjoy it in its natural state, leave no trace).  Obviously all us human morans are gonna keep doing what they think is right, but I argue that you rock stackers are the “jerks”.  Think twice before you decide to stack!

    • Felton / Moderator says:

      Voicing your opinion is fine.  I’m sure you can do it without being rude and insulting.

    • Gulliver says:

      I think its futile- too many newage mumbo-jumbo half-baked morans
      support this instant zen art.  Its probably just saner to ignore it till
      they move onto some other (hopefully less invasive) idiotic fad.

      Like this:


      And this isn’t about being zen. It’s about creating something beautiful and transient, something which won’t last long with or without grumpy haters destroying it because it’s not to their personal liking.

      Also, it’s spelled morons, not morans. A moran is an unwed Maasai warrior.

    • JBarnes01 says:

      I too hike around N. California, and I’ve come across the “unnatural constructs”.  Are you sure they aren’t cairns?   Knocking down a trail marker could have the unintended effect of creating wider and more trails through our precious nature.  Better to have a few stacked rocks and a single trail than no artificially stacked rocks and multiple trails.

  38. starfish and coffee says:

    True, quite likely to be gone next year, but not good enough for me.

    The maximum intrusion I could accept would be something like 24 hours, i.e. sandcastles removed by tide , snow sculptures that will melt, arrangements of leaves that will be taken by the wind etc.

    If a year’s recovery is OK one could for example remove large patches of vegetation and say it would grow back next spring. Other things could be removing bark from trees, mess up ant hills and nests, dig into riverbanks … etc etc. A frequently visited area would be fucked up in no time.

    • Gulliver says:

      It’s unlikely they’d stay vertical that long anyway. But I’ll bet that if enough people asked the stackers politely to redistribute the rocks over the river bed after, say, a few days, most would gladly oblige. But when critics assume they’re of a “mushy zen-babble touchy-feely newage mindset” with a “bloated ego and false piety”, that’s rather less likely to gain sympathy.

  39. hanoirockz says:

    There is a lot of thin skin censorship happening here.  Sorry I was brash, keep stacking your rocks and meditating.  Look up moran again in google pictures, its what I meant. Now I know that BB is moderated by rock stackers!!!

    • Felton / Moderator says:

      Please read our comment policy.

    • Gulliver says:

      Censorship is the silencing of opposition, not the rebuking of it.

      Criticism of critisicm =/= censorship.

      As with morons who misspell “morons” on a placard, your understanding of the English language is quite imaginative.

      If you want to discuss the pros and cons of rock stacking, I’d be happy to listen. I would probably even join in asking rock stackers to dismantle their creations after a few days in which those of us who appreciate them could enjoy them. But when you come in swinging with slurs and calls to kick them over, you won’t catch too many bees. When you insult this artform and those who appreciate it, then cry foul at being rebuffed, it does not further your argument.

      • Felton / Moderator says:

        I think hanoirockz is referring to the fact that I deleted some of his/her more hateful comments.  For those who crave more of a free-for-all comment thread, YouTube is always open.

  40. Felton / Moderator says:

    Apparently, hanoitrollz live under hanoirockz.

  41. wylkyn says:

    I have to admit, the guy’s pretentious website is a bit of a turn-off. I’m all for transitory art. Balanced rock sculptures and dribble sand castles are some of my favorite art to create because I know it won’t last. But I do it in the hope that someone might see it, get a little surprised joy, and perhaps add to it or even knock it down before the elements destroy it. Part of the fun (in my opinion) is the anonymity – making such things in places where it will catch someone by surprise after I have gone. But I guess that’s my own feeling about it. My wife and I made a little stone henge on the shores of Loch Ness once…called it “Squirrel Henge” for some reason. When we came back the next day, Squirrel Henge was still there surrounded by a lot of other artistic rock piles. That was a good feeling…to help inspire a little artistic joy in strangers.

    Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t judge this guy so harshly. Just because that’s my take on the art form doesn’t mean his take is wrong.

  42. McMonahan says:

    For peeps living in Seattle there are similarly balanced rocks along the Elliott Bay bike trail in Centennial Park.

  43. Jarom Mills says:

    Stacked rocks have a place and time as art. That place and time exists on private property. Not everyone likes to see stacked rocks (myself included) in nature. I see them everywhere in the pacific northwest of the United States of America and it spoils the landscape. I understand that they are temporary but they can also be hazardous. For example: at the Newberry Caldera in Central Oregon, there is a very large obsidian flow. The obsidian is gorgeous and how it ripples and peaks just blows my mind. Along the trail there was a large group of stacked obsidian. If that were to fall, it would shatter a lot of the rocks and send shards flying in every direction. I safely dismantled the stack because I didn’t want some kid to come by and accidentally knock it over and get diced.

    JBarnes01: All the more reason to not make them out of “fun.” If an area has them as trail markers, then it would be bad to have “fun” ones built up slightly off the trail. It would make more trails as well.

  44. Daren_Gray says:

    The backwards baseball cap immediately and irrefutably invalidates this person as both an artist and a human.

  45. soundofrafa says:

    This is actually quite easy. Find some small (like 0.5cm pea size gravel) and wedge it at the base of the rock. It’s too small to see so it looks like it’s balancing when it’s really just propped up by the small chunks. With a little patience, you can build a fairly strong foundation. Check it:

    • doing it without the wedge stones is the real challenge. of course they have thier time and place…

      and to those who dislike it… its just cause you cant do it. too much coffee? not enough grounded presence ?  generally just a downer kind of guy? enjoy!

      • Jarom Mills says:

        People who dislike it are entitled to their own opinion. You don’t need to insult us by implying that we can’t stack rocks. It isn’t because we aren’t grounded or a downer. It is because we dislike how they look. I’m sure there are things out there that you dislike how they look but someone else really likes it. That’s part of being human: our differences make us stronger while our similarities unite us.

        • well i am all for that. i was just trying to be as snarky as i thought he was.
          i like neat things. i think balancing rocks is a neat thing ibet if you tried it you would think it was neat too
          and thats basically the argument for why peiople dont understand each other.
          i like =/= you like but we can all work to find a common ground
          ill stop cutting on nascar and watching tv  then

  46. This is way better than that riduculous ‘urban foraging’ which is basically stealing public plant life. This is just moving rocks around, and they will fall down easily. Why would this upset anyone? The rocks are gonna be ok!

  47. bobk says:

    I’ve been disappointed when I’ve seen stacked rocks on the Maine shore.
    I can understand the appeal of rocks stacked in a parking lot or by a ranger shelter or even a lean-to. But when there are stacks on the shore in plain sight, I think it’s a form of unwelcome exhibitionism. I didn’t go there to see someone’s erections, I want to see unspoiled views and natural beauty. The tide pools and woods don’t need any help from rock stackers or people who scratch their messages on rocks and trees.

  48. newe1344 says:


  49. newe1344 says:

    Mike lives in my apt. complex. Talented to say the least, I’ve heard he does it to relax. You should see our back yard.

  50. ahrmand says:

    We all come into this life with a gift; each of those gifts are different (kinda like finger prints and DNA).
    Many never discover thier particular gift due to distractions or lack of encouragement from family members or mentors.
    Instead of shipping our tots of to a Public Schools system that exists only to Homogenize are our Kids into a cookie cutter system that  fails completely to deal with the creative gift that will go undiscovered for lack perceptive, enlightened and caring teachers,
    Creative minds are gifts that need nurturing..Stacking rocks in a stream is art.  ahrmand  

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