Volunteers clean up Utah park graffiti — but it’s back 24 hours later, rangers say

A group of volunteers’ graffiti clean-up job at a Utah national monument didn’t last long.

Only 24 hours after volunteers finished their work at Rainbow Bridge, a new round of graffiti etchings had appeared on the iconic reddish stone at the natural archway, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area park rangers said in a Facebook on Monday.

The park straddles the Utah-Arizona border, with Rainbow Bridge on the Utah side.

“Carving in the rocks is not only illegal, but disrespectful to all the people associated with this incredible cultural landscape,” park rangers said in the post, which has been shared hundreds of times as of Tuesday. “Help us protect this treasure by showing respect for those who came before us and those who will visit after us.”

Volunteers with GRIT, Glen Canyon’s Graffiti Removal and Intervention Team, use “water, tools, brushes, and a WHOLE lot of elbow grease” to get rid of the widespread graffiti that plagues the park, according to the National Park Service.

Along with the post about the new round of graffiti, park rangers shared a photo that appears to show initials cut into the rock in front of an arch.

Together, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Rainbow Bridge National Monument were the fourth most visited national park in the U.S. in 2018, with a combined 4,219,441 visitors — topping the number of visitors to Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion over the same period, according to a park news release.

Rainbow Bridge, among the world’s largest natural bridges, gets around 85,000 visitors alone each year, according to the park.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument is a star attraction at Lake Powell on the Utah side, as shown July 16, 1998. Two hundred ninety-feet tall and spanning 275 feet, the river-carved arch is made of sandstone. SARAH E RICHARDS ASSOCIATED PRESS

There was an outpouring of advice, anger and consternation after park rangers posted about the graffiti on Facebook.

“It really is heartwarming to see how much you love Rainbow Bridge and our public lands,” park officials wrote in a comment on Facebook. “We share your frustration about graffiti situations, and are reading all your suggestions and thoughts. Please remember though, that this is a page open to all ages, so we have to mute comments with curse words. If you want everyone to see your opinion, keep it clean and respect each other.”

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.