I recently spent a month in Lakeland, Florida and enjoyed walking around its lovely lakes. On my very first walk, I learned about the painted rock craze that is sweeping the nation. Since I’m always looking for new activities, I ordered a rocking painting kit (complete with rocks) on Amazon, jumped right in and made some of my own!
I also found a Facebook Group for RVers who want to participate in the fun, RVers Rock!
Just a quick survey of the group over the past 24 hours indicated painted rocks were found at:
- Murfreesboro, AR
- Onawa, IA
- Carrabelle, FL
- Hays, KS
- Elsinore, KY
- Abingdon, MD
- Jordan, MN
- Mt Airy, NC
- Jackson Springs, NC
- Reno, NV
- Dover, PA
- Westminster, SC
- Temperanceville, VA
Note: They Aren’t Welcome Everywhere
They might look pretty, but the painted rocks being left behind at many national and state parks, aren’t welcome. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department recently explained why in a Facebook post. Leaving the rocks is a violation of the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles that Texas Parks & Wildlife, like the other parks departments across the country, follow as a way to preserve the natural outdoors on state or federally owned lands, keeping it largely free from human influence and interference. The painted rocks contribute a human element.
“Texas State Parks have been established to protect special places,” the department wrote in response to a woman in the comments of the original post. “Leaving modern painted rocks in the view of visitors to these beautiful and special parts of our state changes the view, changes the experience for the visitors, and makes it a little harder for some people to enjoy their stay in nature.”
I need to work on my skills, so this was the perfect starter kit for me.
Here was my first batch. Definitely not going to be a great artist, but hopefully some kids were happy to find them!
According to Scott Urquhart, the founder of the popular Facebook Group Lakeland Rocks it all started on a family trip to Vancouver, Washington for a wedding when they found a small but brightly painted rock. “The rock had ‘Vancouver rocks’ on the back of it,” Urquhart said. “We didn’t know what it was so we looked it up on Facebook. It was basically a community of people on Facebook who painted rocks and hid rocks throughout the community.” They took the idea home to Lakeland, and are now painting rocks to “hide” around Lakeland , and all over Polk County to spread joy and brighten people’s day.
The rocks are being placed all around the city. You can find them outside businesses, downtown and in the parks. You never know where you’ll spot one. But, when you do, you can either keep it for yourself or you can hide it for the next person. Another fun thing to do when you find a rock is to take a picture and post it on the Facebook Group, Lakeland Rocks. Many folks who paint rocks post pictures of their creations as well. Let me tell you, there are some truly talented folks out there!
Great Locations in Lakeland to Find Painted Rocks
There are many locations around Lakeland to hide and find painted rocks. Here are just a few that I visited.
Walk the beautiful the 2.93 mile loop. This path is so popular, Under Armour ranked the lake No. 20 in its Most Popular Running Routes in the U.S. based on data compiled within the Map My Run phone application. Florida Southern College is located on the north side of the lake, and from the path, an observer can see several of the buildings on campus designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The lake is also a popular site for birdwatching, and some of the most commonly seen birds are roseate spoonbills, white pelicans, black-bellied plovers, and long-billed dowitchers. I put this one right on a tree stump to make it easy for a young child to find.
Lake Morton is home to the famed swans of Lakeland. On the eastern end of the lake, you can visit the Polk County Museum of Art. It is also home to Mayfaire-by-the-lake, one of the largest and oldest outdoor art festivals in Central Florida. I hid my little lady bug rock among some flowers here.
While at Lake Mirror, be sure to visit Hollis Garden, a lovely and free 1.2 acre botanical garden. However, please note that hiding rocks is prohibited here. Enjoy the beauty, but stay on the paths to allow it to remained unspoiled for future visitors.
Share Your Painted Rocks
I know there are a lot of talented people out there. Share your painted rock photos with me and I’ll add them to the gallery here!
Click on images to enlarge.