Psst… there’s a secret scavenger hunt playing out around the Sound and you need to get in on it! Beautifully painted rocks are hiding in all sorts of unexpected places, waiting for you and your little sleuth to find them. The best part? All you need is a sense of adventure to play! Read on to find out how.

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photo: Amanda Krueger Zobrist

A Rockin’ Backstory
Although the origins of this hide-and-seek game are unknown, there’s no denying its popularity in and around the Emerald City. There are at least eight groups spread out from the north suburbs (Whidbey Island Rocks, Bothell Rocks, Kirkland Rocks, Lynnwood Rocks), down through the south end (Renton Rocks), and over to the peninsulas where you can find the Port Angeles Rocks group (which may have started the craze in the PNW) and a growing Kitsap Rocks group. Plus, lucky for us, as of October, a Seattle Rocks group has popped up too! Each group is run through Facebook, where rock-loving community members share the simple joy that comes with leaving painted treasures for a stranger to find, or being the unsuspecting stranger that finds one. The groups are all about spreading smiles, one painted rock at a time. Getting in on this game isn’t hard. Simply ask to be added to your local group on Facebook and then get hiding (or seeking). But, fair warning, once you start it’s hard to stop. Here are a few ways to play!

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photo: Kitsap Rocks Faceboook page

Paint & Hide Hidden Treasure
An easy way to get in on this rockin’ action with your kidlet is to paint and hide a rock in your ‘hood. All it takes is some acrylic paints and rocks from your own backyard to get started. What you paint is up to you, but we found that scrolling through some of the different Facebook Rocks pages is a good place to find inspiration and ideas for your first try. And if you’re really stuck, go with seasonal faves that are easy for little hands to paint (like apples, leaves and pumpkins for fall) or favorite characters (Pokémon rocks are all the rage right now!) or even an inspirational word or phrase to brighten someone’s day. And if all else fails, paint a 12th fan rock to show your Seattle spirit! It doesn’t have to be fancy to make it into this cache of treasures. Sitting down with your petite Picasso is what it’s all about. Then, don’t forget to tag your rock with your group’s name and a Facebook logo so whoever finds your tiny masterpiece can post about it. Tagging rocks is also an easy way to spread the word about these underground groups.

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photo: Allison Sutcliffe

After you’ve painted and sealed your rock (check out the Do’s and Don’ts below for more on this), it’s time to take it out on the road. There’s no set spot for hiding your treasure, and just how out in the open you leave it is totally up to you. But if your cutie can’t wait to see his or her work reappear on Facebook as a found post (lots of people thank the hider this way), try hiding it near busy playgrounds or public spots that get lots of foot traffic. Who knew rock painting could be this exciting? It’s gotta be the anticipation of having your painted treasure discovered that gets little hearts aflutter over this great rainy day activity.

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 photo: Kitsap Rocks Facebook page

Seek and You Shall Find… Maybe
Going on a rock hunt is another way to get in on this trend. We love it because it’s an easy excuse to get out and explore with your kidlets, or helps to motivate them when you’ve got a quick errand to run and they have other plans, because who knows, you might spot some painted treasures on your weekly Costco run. People hide rocks in nooks and crannies all over town. At the playground you might find them at the bottom of a slide, or in the crook of a tree. Along a hiking trail, you might find one perched on a stump, colorfully contrasting with the green surrounding it. And on your way into the library, it’s possible your little bookworm will spot one on a bench or near a drinking fountain. People have also been known to hide them outside of stores, near bike racks or even in the drive-through coffee lane. No matter how many times you find a rock, it’s always thrilling to find another secret masterpiece in a new location.

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photo: Kitsap Rocks Facebook page

If you’re taking your tiny seekers out to specifically hunt for rocks, check the recent Facebook page postings for your group so you have a better chance of finding one. If no one’s posted recently, don’t be shy, ask for clues. We’ve found that the hiders are just as keen to have their rocks uncovered as your little rock hound is to uncover them. But this is an activity that’s as much about the process as it is about the product. So have fun on your hunt and seek out new places! What you do with the rock once you’ve found it is up to you. Some people keep them to treasure forever, while others leave it or re-hide it in a new spot to keep paying it forward.

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photo: Kitsap Rocks Facebook page

The Do’s and Don’ts 
The Kitsap Rocks group has a great set of tips and reminders for rock hiders and hunters. Here are a few you should definitely keep in mind when you embark on this new adventure!

1. Do seal your painted rock so the paint doesn’t wash off. We found that a Krylon coat works just fine.

2. Do paint your rock white first, if you can. It helps the colors to pop off the rock and catch someone’s eye.

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3. Don’t take rocks from or hide rocks in state or national parks. It’s a big no-no!

4. Don’t leave rocks in grassy areas where it could mess up a landscaper’s mower.

Do you plan to hunt for or hide some rocks of your own? Have you found some already? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below.

— Allison Sutcliffe