The perfect balance of the stack. The fusion of equilibrium and irregularity. How the stones come from nature yet stand apart. There's just something alluring about stone stacks, and given the prehistoric record of such structures, that allure speaks to something within us that is universally human.

    Small wonder then that stone stacking has surged in popularity. Some find the process restful and meditative, while others thrive on the creative challenge or chance to leave and share their mark. Some even ascribe it a spiritual meaning, a way to connect with God or Mother Nature. Whatever their reasons, stone stackers have flocked to national and state parks to enjoy the discipline among nature's beauty.

    But talk to a conservationist, and you won't get such a rosy picture of these mineral masterpieces. "Leaving your mark, whether carving your initials in a tree trunk, scratching a name on a rock, or stacking up stones is simply vandalism," pronounced Zion National Park on its Facebook page.

    Proponents agreed with Zion, claiming that stone stacks were eyesores that distracted from the park's natural beauty. Conversely, opponents argued stone stacks were no big deal. Unlike true, irreparable vandalism, moving a few stones didn't permanently degrade the landscape. While the question of whether stone stacks are aesthetically pleasing is, obviously, a matter of taste, when it comes to the question of environmental vandalism, research and evidence have sided squarely with Zion.

    A Bates cairn at Acadia National Park. Revived in the '90s by park officials, these cairns mark the park's many interlocking trails.

    (Photo: Brandon Hoogerhyde/National Park Service)

    Rock cairns marking a trail at Hawai'i Volcanoes National park. These official cairns can easily be mistaken for personal rock stacks.

    (Photo: National Park Service)

    A collection of rock stacks on Angels Landing summit plateau at Zion National Park that shows the "contagious effect" of such stacks.

    (Photo: Mike Young / National Park Service)

    Angels Landing summit plateau after being restored by park rangers and volunteers.

    (Photo: Mike Young / National Park Service)

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    Study finds the real reason you get goosebumps - Big Think

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