The rules for this activity are simple — Find rocks. Paint rocks. Hide rocks.

“It’s such a fun thing for kids and adults, too,” said Cara Thurston, who launched the Denali Rocks Facebook page for her young daughters’ Brownies and Daisies Troop 329 a couple years ago. “Painting is very therapeutic. Especially while listening to the music you love.”

Her girls and others continue painting and hiding rocks. People who find them are encouraged to share the find on the Denali Rocks page. On the back of every rock, the artists provide that information. The finders can either keep the rocks or re-hide them.

“One rock that Rita painted ended up in Coos Bay, Oregon, where her cousins live — in a rose garden in a state park,” Thurston said.

The cousins saw the post on Facebook and hunted for the rock there, but never could find it.

Unaware of the Denali Rocks project, Leaca Young, of Cantwell, started the Denali Community Rocks page last year.

“I just wanted a rock page for my granddaughter while she was visiting,” Young said. “So I created one.”

That introduced the project to a whole new audience.

The Mason family in Cantwell dove in wholeheartedly.

“The kids had a blast making their rock creations,” said Jeni Mason. “They choose to paint heated rocks with crayons. We had over 50 rocks so we started to think of places all over the borough to hide them.”

The rocks are often posted on those Facebook pages with clues as to where they can be found.

JT Mason’s favorite find was the Pikachu rock.

“He loved that one so much that he did re-hide it once and then when someone found and re-hid it in Cantwell, he was determined to find it,” said his mother. “So that one is now in my planter.”

Sometimes adults enjoy it as much as children.

“Painting and hiding rocks is something my mother loves and it makes me feel closer to her whenever I do it,” said Melinda Haley, of Cantwell. “Every time I find a rock unexpectedly, it reminds me of her and I smile. I do it with my daughter now, even though she’s too young to understand.

“It’s fun, laid back, and it gives us an excuse to get creative and get out of the house.”

Thurston believes the project is providing a creative outlet for people, especially now during the time of social distancing.

“Painted rocks are really about bringing people joy,” she said.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.


Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.