Why are cairns bad


Cairns are considered bad because they can have a negative environmental impact on the surrounding food chain and ecosystems[1]. Additionally, cairns that are constructed just for aesthetic appeal can be a violation of the intended purpose for which cairns are meant for[3]. Cairns are not built for art, but rather for signaling a purpose, such as a water source or guiding people along a trail[3].

When cairns are constructed in a way that is counterproductive to this purpose, they can lead people off the trail and cause unnecessary confusion[1]. Furthermore, cairns contribute to the disruption of the illusion of solitude and people's desires to be away from people[8]. For these reasons, it is important to understand the purpose and potential consequences of building cairns before randomly stacking them[3].

Finally, some parks and other conservation areas have outright prohibited the practice of building cairns because of the potential negative impacts they can cause[1].


  1. https://ecologyforthemasses.com/2019/07/04/stop-building-cairns/
  2. https://catalyst.cm/stories-new/2022/4/12/why-creating-rock-cairns-is-dangerous-and-wildly-illegal
  3. https://www.adventure-journal.com/2019/07/reader-poll-should-we-knock-down-rock-cairns-or-leave-them-up/
  4. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/stacking-rocks-wilderness-no-good-180955880/
  5. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/cairns-rock-stacking-national-parks
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/hiking/comments/3frfwh/cairn_controversy_rock_stacks_for_good_or_bad/
  7. https://www.knowtheplacemagazine.com/home/building-cairns-yes-no-maybe-so
  8. https://www.garagegrowngear.com/blogs/magazine/the-controversy-of-cairns

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