Graffiti images from Joshua Tree courtesy of the National Parks website

Graffiti in Our Parks

Graffiti images from Joshua Tree courtesy of the National Parks website


I love going out on hikes in the woods. You feel like you are being one with nature. Unfortunately an ugly trend seems to be occurring more frequently, graffiti. In the last few weeks I have been reading about sections of Joshua Tree National Park in California having to be shut down because of such vandalism. It isn’t one or two spots but 17 different sites have been spray painted on. If it wasn’t bad enough that people are spray painting vulgar and obscene things on the boulders, they have also painted over ancient petroglyphs.

For the love of nature and history! What is wrong with people? It is not a form of art if you are vandalizing something. The whole concept of Leave No Trace is to have as little impact on our natural surroundings as possible. These people are defacing our countries history and then posting it on facebook to one up each other. When I head to a National Park I want to be able to enjoy its beauty. The last thing I want is to have my pictures marred by stupidity.

West Rock clean up photo by Nate McKenzie


Graffiti in parks is appalling and it isn’t just taking place out in California. Earlier in April the Ragged Mountain Foundation did an Adopt a Crag Cleanup at West Rock. From their pictures on facebook you can see a lot of time was spent up on the crag trying to power wash off or brush over graffiti. Last year when I was hiking at Devil’s Hopyard I noticed graffiti on some of the rocks and trees. I had wanted to take pictures of some of the locations but didn’t in the end because of this vandalism.

Adopt a Crag Cleanup photo by Nate McKenzie


I will never understand why people do this. They ruin beautiful places for what, fun? Their 5 minutes of fun can destroy parts of our countries history. Ancient carvings that have been around for thousands of years get covered up so you can brag to your friends? For those of us that follow Leave No Trace our job is to be more vigilant. In the words of Homeland Security, “If you see something, say something.” Call the park rangers and let them know if suspicious activity is going on or if you notice fresh paint. Also, if you have the opportunity sign up and take part in park cleanups. Let’s not let a few ruin it for the many.

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