Hunting for Painted Rocks in Springfield, Oregon

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What is rocking, you say?  Only the hottest new phenomenon to hit Springfield and Eugene!  It’s actually been around for a couple of years, but our family has recently joined the craze and we’re pretty sure you’ll want to join, too.

In short, people collect or buy small rocks, paint a design on them, and then hide them around town.  Other people find them and either keep or rehide.  Unlike geocaching or Pokemon, there’s no GPS involved and you don’t need any equipment.  However, you also won’t know where rocks will be hidden.  The sole purpose of “rocking” is to make people smile.  This is the perfect outdoor hobby for families!

Finding painted rocks in Springfield

Painted Rocks in Springfield

Our adventure started in Ruff Park, a wonderful but lesser-known Willamalane park in Springfield.  We go there often to walk the loop and see what’s in bloom.  It’s a safe park for our little ones, and we don’t feel like we have to hold their hands the entire walk.  On this particular trip, we noticed a woman and child acting a little strange.  Not dangerous-strange, just “what are they doing”-strange.  Soon, we discovered why: they were rocking the park.

On that walk, we found 4 brightly painted rocks.  We weren’t sure what the rules were, so we moved them around a little in the park, but didn’t keep any.  Once home, I looked up the hashtag on the back of the rocks:  #LCR.  It’s a group on Facebook, Lane County Rocks.  I joined, and quickly found that rocks are yours to keep or to re-hide.  And seeing dozens of people share the rocks they’d painted or found, we were hooked.  And we discovered that there are lots of places to find painted rocks in Springfield.

Willamalane Parks

Since then, we’ve become completely obsessed.  We’re now into painting rocks and hiding them, as well as hunting rocks.  And our favorite parks for hunting and hiding are right here in Springfield.  Willamalane has such a vast selection of public parks, all well-maintained and safe for families, and we love exploring.  Rocking is the perfect motivation for finding new parks.

Painted rocks in Springfield, Oregon, at Willamalane parks

We left a fall-themed rock on a sign at Thurston Hills Natural Area. This is the trail head for a new trail through the Thurston Hills.

We love hunting in parks right in our hometown, no need to travel far to enjoy this hobby!  Many of Willamalane’s parks are commonly rocked, some parks more than once a day.  Ruff Park, mentioned above, is probably the most-often rocked park.  It gets “rocked” and “cleaned” several times throughout the day, especially on weekends.  If you’re observant, you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one painted rock at Ruff Park.

Another commonly rocked park is Clearwater Park.  Make time for a picnic or a longer walk along the river!  We find at least two rocks every time we go, and we just hike a short loop between the parking lots.  But you can hike or bike the entire path, if you like.  Clearwater Park is one end of the Middle Fork Path, which stretches 4 miles along the Willamette River and ends at Dorris Ranch.

Even many of the smaller, neighborhood parks can be great places to visit.  These parks usually have playgrounds, so even if you don’t find a rock, your kids can play for a bit and explore a new park.

Wherever you go, be mindful of landscaping and stay on the path wherever possible.  And if you can, consider picking up litter as you go.  We can all help our parks to be more beautiful!

How to Get Started

We aren’t artists whatsoever, but with a little online advice, we got started painting rocks for just a few dollars.  You’ll want acrylic paints (the kind sold in little bottles for less than a dollar at any craft store) and a weatherproof sealant.  We started with a spray-on sealant, but it smells awful and with bad weather coming, we needed something we could use indoors, so we found a brush-on sealant that is odorless.  A cheap set of brushes, the finer the better, is the only other thing we needed.

That, and rocks.  But rocks are cheap and plentiful in our river valley.  So we occasionally visit rocky areas and take a handful of rocks.  We never take very many from one area, because rocks are important for the ecosystem.  We’re considering buying a 5-gallon bucket of landscaping rocks so we have a large supply.  You’ll want to find rounded, smooth rocks because they’re easiest to paint.

You can paint any design you like.  The beautiful part of rock painting is that all art is celebrated.  Simple designs, or intricate.  Abstract, impressionist, or just dump the paint on and let it drip down.  Whatever YOU like.  Pinterest is great for ideas.  Paint on large rocks, or tiny.  My daughter likes slightly bigger rocks, like those that fit nicely in the palm of your hand.  I prefer tiny, coin-sized rocks.  Others paint larger rocks, like the blue one below.

Take a Class

Willamalane is offering a rock painting class at Dorris Ranch in March.  You’ll learn what materials to use, how to weatherproof your creations, and have the chance to hide and find rocks all during this 2-hour class.  And best of all (maybe, lol), Oregon Outdoor Family is teaching the class!  All materials provided and you can take your creations home with you (or hide them at Dorris Ranch).  We just might have a giveaway, as well.  Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 1-3 pm.  $12 in district, $15 out of district.  Register in advance, all ages welcome.

Where to Hide Rocks

Hiding rocks is the fun part.  Hide them anywhere they’ll be found by others.  We mostly choose parks, but you can also leave them outside businesses, along sidewalks, and in parking lots.  Let the kids hide rocks, too!  We’ve discovered that our kids are very careful about where they put rocks…each one finds the perfect spot.  The key with rocking is that the rocks are meant to be found, so they are “hidden” mostly in the open.

The only “rule” is to be respectful of where you hide rocks.  Be sure to place them in places where people won’t trample the plants and landscaping.  Some parks across the nation have banned painted rocks for this reason, and we’d hate to see that happen here!

Hiding painted rocks in Springfield Willamalane parks

Our 5-year-old hides a painted rock in a tree at Ruff Park.

Posca Paint Pens

One last note, paint pens aren’t necessary to paint rocks, but since we aren’t very artistic, we bought a set.  These are super helpful for small, intricate designs.  The best brand (per the online gurus) is Posca.  Locally, these can be purchased at The Duck Store on the UofO campus.  Amazon is another option.  Posca pens flow well and don’t clump, plus the nibs (tip of the paint pen) can be replaced when they get too dull.  These are worth every penny if you really enjoy painting rocks but aren’t particularly artistic.  The fine point and ultra fine point are probably what you’ll want, and they come in amazing colors, including glitter and metallic.  (These are affiliate links, so if you choose to buy via our links, we’ll get a tiny commission to help support our blog.)



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How to find painted rocks in Oregon - Oregon Outdoor Family


I’m a middle-aged mom of 3-6 and sometimes more, depending on day. I’m out of shape and usually exhausted. Our favorite summertime activity (and often on dry winter days) is getting outdoors and finding adventure.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar January 1, 2019 / 11:04 am
    Really well said! Great info. 💖

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