Hiking

‘It’s simply turning into terrible’: Zion park officers attempt to cope with unprecedented quantities of graffiti

Officials at Utah’s Zion National Park are grappling with unprecedented amounts of graffiti throughout the park as visitors continue to flock to the canyon.

These days, besides their normal job description of welcoming visitors, park rangers face the additional challenges of managing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response as well as the presence of a toxic cyanobacteria bloom in the North Fork of the Virgin River, which runs through the park.

The graffiti, which has been found along the popular Narrows hike, the Kayenta Trail and on the West Rim/Angel’s Landing Trail near Scout Lookout is something that Zion’s chief ranger Daniel Fagergren said the park has never seen at this level until this year.

“I have seen more graffiti than I have ever seen before. It’s all over, and we’re trying to get ahead of it,” he said.

The park is seeing a new type of visitor, one who may have never visited a national park before and may only be venturing out as a result of being cooped up due to the pandemic.

“They are different visitors than we normally get,” Fagergren said, adding that many of them don’t have the same affinity for pubic lands as visitors in the past.

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