Stuck between a rock and a fun place


Eva Gomez paints a rock during an event for CulpeperRocks at Crossfit Culpeper July 1.
Photo by Jeff Say

Culpeper is rocking out.

There isn’t a wild musical festival coming, instead, youth, families and even some adults are enjoying the CulpeperRocks phenomenon.

Started by Teresa Altman and her family, the CulpeperRocks Facebook group has more than 6,000 members and the colorful painted rocks can be found all over Culpeper, and now the world.

The Altman family brought the rock collection hobby home following a trip to Sanford, Fla., in November. While there, they discovered colorful rocks hidden throughout the town and decided it would be fun to start distributing rocks in their hometown.

“When we were on vacation we spotted a rock and it just spread joy,” Altman, a case manager for adult services at Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services, said. “My daughters said this is so cool, we should do this in Culpeper.”

They started spreading joy in December, distributing rocks throughout downtown, but it wasn’t until her oldest daughter, Sedona, had her 10th birthday party that the hobby really took off.

Her and her friends had a rock painting party and then they hid them. The colorful rocks started popping up everywhere after Altman started the Culpeper Rocks Facebook page and others quickly followed in her children’s footsteps.

“I really just like the concept of spreading joy,” she said. “Once we knew they were out there the whole family started looking out for them.”

Her husband Luke is a sergeant with the Culpeper Police Department and he would come home and tell his family about businesses seeing the rocks popping up everywhere.

Soon those businesses got into the fun, hosting rock painting parties. At a recent painting party at Crossfit Culpeper, more than a dozen children and adults made elaborate designs and dried the rocks before heading out to hide them.

Once found, the rocks can be collected or redistributed throughout the community.

“It’s not just exciting for the kids, the adults love it too,” Altman said. “It’s real exciting to know we have created something and made someone’s day.”

Altman said she knew that it would become popular, but didn’t expect the Facebook group to surge the way it did.

She said that some people post their creations before hiding them, but she’s seen several that have just popped up in the community. Many have intricate designs, with some of the most unique being Disney themed. Others have been dipped in swirled paint, making a marbled effect.

The rocks have migrated as well, with one being placed in the mouth of a lion statue in Norway. Others have been taken and distributed on vacation in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

“A lady found one in New Jersey,” Altman said. “We’ve had several people from Fauquier, Orange, Madison and Front Royal all get involved.”

Her family recently took a large batch of rocks on their vacation to North Carolina so their relatives could paint and hide the rocks as well.

“We love it,” Altman said. “My husband even gets excited about it. My kids just like painting and hiding them. They get on Facebook with me and look at all the creations.”

The Altmans have a 9-year-old daughter as well and are expecting their third girl in September. She’ll likely have plenty of rocks to paint as well.

“We’ve painted hundreds of rocks,” she said with a laugh.

Several businesses have started selling rocks for painting, including A.B. Kearns in Brandy Station and Elkwood Stone and Mulch. Elkwood Stone and Mulch have donated rocks for a July 22 event and the Culpeper Town Police will host a Rock with Cops event.

Altman said she’s enjoying the enthusiasm the community is showing and hopes it continues.

“I think it will probably level out a little bit, but I like seeing everyone putting their designs out there and sharing them,” Altman said. “I just think it’s exciting to find them.”

About Jeff Say 276 Articles
Jeff Say is the editor for the Culpeper Times. He can be reached at