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Rock “stacks” trend keeps growing next to Morro Rock

Posted at 11:40 AM, Sep 02, 2021

Standing over 580 feet tall, the enormity of Morro Rock brings thousands of tourists to the Central Coast every year, but there’s a hidden rock gem on a much smaller scale that’s bringing joy to those that stumble upon it.

Tiny pieces of nature, bringing a sense of peace to the City of Morro Bay.

“Every time I come back here, there’s more and more,” said Justin Porter, one of the first to start building the rock stacks nearly a decade ago. “They hear about the stacks, they hear about the rock, but they don’t know about this little spot back here.”

A view within a view; tucked behind the left side of Morro Rock, just before the jetty, roughly one thousand handmade rock stacks have come to life. The story has a much deeper meaning than just people stacking rocks on top of one another.

“Me, I’m a recovering alcoholic,” said Justin.

Justin and his friend, John, started building a few rock stacks nearly a decade ago as a form of recovery and escape.

“My buddy, John, he was running from a lot of problems in his life. It allowed him to gain a peace of mind. I find my peace of mind in landscaping and gardening and creating little artworks here and there,” said Justin.

Porter is a member of the Morro Bay chapter of the volunteer landscaping nonprofit Guerrilla Gardening Club. Before planting roots, literally and figuratively in Morro Bay, Porter was a hitchhiker and a traveler.

“There have been a lot of times in my life that I’ve been in difficult situations, where I kind of lost hope in humanity and myself,” said Porter. “Seeing something like this reinspires me and lets me know that there really are people out there that care about their environment.”

The “rock museum”, as Justin calls it, has grown tenfold since its inception and continues to flourish year after year.

“They’ve just taken on a life of their own. It’s kind of an inspiration that so many people can get together to accomplish something,” said Justin. “The waves come every year and knock them down. Little bit by little bit, they all get built and reestablished back here as a rock museum.”

Morro Bay tourists stumble upon the beautiful creation and know just how truly incredible it is.

“I’ve seen some in Death Valley, we have some down in Ventura, but I’ve never seen this many. The variety of them is really amazing,” said Cathy Perry of Ventura. “It’s very awesome you can take rocks and make something so structurally beautiful out of them.”

That structural beauty simply brings joy to those that started it nearly 10 years ago.

“Seeing little projects like this has given me hope in humanity,” said Justin. “I really enjoy seeing beauty. It’s an artwork.”