Leave No Trace

layers of carvings in a red rock
Layers of graffiti on a boulder

NPS

Leave No Trace is a national program that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly. The seven principles of Leave No Trace promote responsible outdoor recreation by building awareness, appreciation, and respect for public lands. The seven principles are:

To learn more, visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website.

 
hundreds of muddy hand prints on a sandstone wall
Over one hundred mud hand prints at Hickman Bridge. Mud may seem temporary but is still considered graffiti as it discolors the rock.

NPS

Graffiti and Vandalism

Your eyes stare in wonder, your breath catches, and you can’t stop taking pictures. Surrounded by such beauty, it’s easy to see why this place was deemed worthy of protection as a national park. Capitol Reef National Park is an exceptional place—with a very common problem: graffiti on those unique and beautiful rocks.

You might be shocked: “Graffiti? In a national park?” Nearly every day, rangers find words or shapes drawn, carved, scratched, or painted on rocks at Capitol Reef. Over one million people visit every year, and many may not know that all graffiti in the park is vandalism—no matter how small or superficially drawn.

Leaving a mark is in our nature. Across the Colorado Plateau, American Indians, settlers, and cowboys all left signs of their presence. These marks are part of regional history, dating back more than one thousand years. But the world is a different place now: there are more people and more choices in how we express ourselves. Writing on the walls isn’t necessary, and in a national park, it’s illegal.

Yet graffiti keeps appearing throughout the park: on rock walls, on boulders, even across ancient petroglyphs. It is a growing problem facing many national parks, as you may have seen in recent news stories. Removing graffiti takes time, money, resources, and a lot of hard work. Depending on the type of graffiti, park staff may use brushes and spray bottles, or grinders and sledge hammers to remove it.

Even if the graffiti is removed, the rock is still discolored. It will never be the same.

 
park ranger removing graffiti with water and a soft brush
Park employee working to remove graffiti with water and a brush

NPS

How to Help

Will you help stop this problem? Instead of carving on the rocks, there are many other ways to mark your journey here: a spectacular photo, an unforgettable hike, a quiet moment of reflection. Share your experiences on social media, write a postcard or letter, or call your friends to tell your story. Be inspired by the National Park Service mission: “to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

Help protect Capitol Reef National Park by not leaving your mark. Make memories, take photos & leave no trace.


The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA) states that all acts of vandalism are illegal and are punishable by up to 2 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine. Help spread the word and let others know that these activities are illegal.

Anyone with information concerning vandalism within Capitol Reef National Park should immediately contact the National Park Service. Report all crimes or suspicious activity to the Visitor Center or a National Park Service employee, or call the Capitol Reef tip line at (435) 425-4134.

 

Respect Wildlife

Help keep wildlife wild; for your safety as well as the health and safety of the animals. Please stay at least 30 feet (9.1 m) away, do not feed animals, pick up trash, do not leave food unattended, and keep pets on a leash.

 
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Duration:
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Watch this illustrated stop motion video about food conditioning, habituation, and what you can do to help keep the wild in wildlife!

Last updated: November 22, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775

Phone:

435-425-3791

Contact Us