On a wet, cold, blistery fall day, my kids and I found our first painted rock in Oregon. My three-year-old eyed it resting on a tree limb. We still have the rock, a rendition of the hungry caterpillar; we keep it as a fun reminder of our introduction to painted rocks. Rock hunting has become a favorite pastime in our household and recently has evolved into my new hobby- painting rocks myself. If you have ever found a painted rock, wondered where it came from, or want to learn where you can find them, here are some answers. 

What Are Painted Rocks?         

Painted rocks are individual pieces of artwork created to be enjoyed by others. Painters may create painted rocks for their enjoyment, as a gift for others, or hide them for others to find. What is painted on the rock varies widely from a simple design to an inspirational message or elaborate painting. 

Where to Find Painted Rocks in Oregon

You may be lucky and find your first rock as I did, by chance. But you can also search local rock groups near you, and the members will post certain parks and areas where they hide their rocks. Most rocks you find will have a hashtag on the back, pointing you to a local rock group. By following the hashtag on Facebook or Instagram, you can connect with groups of people who hide and seek rocks across Oregon and even the country. 

If you simply want to admire an extensive collection of painted rocks, I suggest you visit the painted rock beach in Seaside, OR. This collection of rocks is somewhat of a well-kept secret. To find it, you will have to look for the public beach access near Ocean Vista Drive and Avenue W. Locals and visitors alike enjoy this large collection of rocks. 

If you want rocks closer to Portland, I recommend checking out Jenkins Estate. Not only are the grounds a beautiful place to explore, but you will also have many opportunities to find a rock. Make sure you stop and see the rock snake near the Learning Garden.

Helpful Tips about Finding Painted Rocks

One of the best ways to get started is to join a local rock group, most of which you can find through Facebook. Depending on the rock groups you follow, the “rules” may differ. Generally, these are guidelines to help protect the parks and environment. Here are some tips to help you out: 

  • It is recommended that all rocks be placed within arm’s reach of a trail. This is to prevent damaging or disturbing natural areas.
  • Check inside of stumps and fallen logs.
  • Look at the front and back of trees on trails as people walking in both directions may hide rocks.
  • Look high and low.
  • As the phrase keep or re-hide implies, you can keep the rock to enjoy or re-hide it somewhere else.
  • As a reminder to the signs you will see posted, painted rocks found in a collection, like a rock snake, are meant to be left in place.
  • Rocks should be hidden in local parks. Make sure to follow city and state guidelines, and avoid hiding them in National or State Parks due to their regulations.

How to Paint Rocks

There are a few guidelines to follow when it comes to painting rocks. If you make a quick Google search, you will find endless ideas and tutorials to help get your creativity flowing. 

The only real rule when it comes to painting rocks is to make sure you seal them, this prevents the paint from running off in the rain. It also ensures your artwork is preserved for years to come. An additional recommendation is to not glue gems, sequins, or other objects to your rocks, as they can be bad for the environment if they fall off.

If you are looking for more in-depth rock painting instructions, I recommend you check out this Oregon rock tutorial from I Love Painted Rocks

Go Out and Have Some Fun

Hiding and seeking rocks is a year-round activity that can help motivate you to get out and enjoy all of the beauty Oregon has to offer. Once you start finding painted rocks, you may also notice them as decorations in your neighbor’s yard, tucked behind a light post at the grocery store, or in between stacks of books at the library. It is the perfect family outing for kids and adults of all ages, and best of all, it is free. So get creative and paint some rocks or just have fun finding them.