Nature Art for Kids: Stacked Rock Sculptures


I’d seen pictures of amazing stacked rock sculptures before, but never in real life. Until we stumbled into what can only be described as a stacked rock sculpture garden on a recent hike in Yosemite National Park.

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The sculpture garden sits across from one of the most picturesque spots in the park – Mirror Lake. (The lake is famous for its reflections of Half Dome and Mount Watkins when the water level is high enough, usually in spring.)

What are stacked rock sculptures? Just what you might imagine – man-made stacks of rocks balanced precariously one on top of the other.

In this particular sculpture garden, there are hundreds of stacked rock sculptures, no two alike. Some include pieces of bark and other bits of nature.

These works of art are meant to be temporary; they are created using elements found in the immediate vicinity and do not include any glue, strings or wires to keep them standing.

After wandering through the somewhat eerie setting, The Big Explorer was inspired to create his own sculpture.

Together, we gathered some rocks and other small items. Then The Big Explorer spent several minutes putting his creation together. Each item he added to his artwork had a specific purpose – a boat, iceberg and even a shark (he’s a little obsessed with the Titanic at the moment …).

Later on the trail, I was wondering out loud why the sculpture garden was there. The Big Explorer seemed perplexed by my confusion. He pointed out that Mirror Lake is a place to be calm and reflect. To him there was no more logical place to find such a display of nature art than here.

How can you create your own stacked rock sculptures?

Find a place with a large collection of rocks, preferably of different sizes (near a river, stream, beach or the like) – or use some you’ve collected in your own backyard. Have fun gathering just the right pieces for your sculpture.

Start with a large rock at the bottom of the stack. Continue adding more, carefully balancing each on top of the next. Kids may also want to add other items from nature such as bits of bark and sticks.

Here are a few more ideas for creating nature art:

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  1. says

    The Big Explorer isn't planning on making this same item at home, but he sure wants to return here someday to see if his creation is still standing.

  2. Pediatrics Doctor says

    I couldn't agree more that kids get amazed with this form of art. To be honest, that includes me. Your pictures are great, your son is out smiling again with his creation I think? Did he plan to continue to make one at home?

  3. Katie says

    What fun! We are heading up to a cabin on the Shenandoah River tomorrow and will have plenty of rocks to stack. The kids will love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

  4. says

    What a cool thing to discover! And fun. I was also going to recommend the Andy Goldsworthy film. All sorts of inspiration can come from that.

  5. says

    There's an Andy Goldsworthy documentary called Rivers and Tides available on Netflix you and your kids might like. Mine (ages 6&8) have watched it twice over the years. Each time it really inspired them to take the rock (and wood and whatever else they find) stacking to another level 😉