Sierra Club Regrets Use of Mesa Arch Photo

A spokesman for the Sierra Club says the organization never intended to use a photo of a hiker atop Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park to lure new subscribers.

The Traveler brought the image to the attention of Sierra Club officials on Monday after Canyonlands officials said they were virtually certain the arch in the photo, which was used in a mailer sent to potential subscribers, was indeed Mesa Arch.

Sierra Club spokesman David Willett said today that so far the organization has been unable "to determine the exact location of the photo."

"It appears to be from a package of stock photos our mail vendor used," says Mr. Willett.

That said, he adds that, "it was not our intention to utilize a picture of a person standing on Mesa Arch. The Sierra Club doesn't condone illegal or unsafe activities in National Parks and the photo will not be used in any future publications."


The recent collapse of "Wall Arch" appears to have primed us to notice Sierra Club's use of the Mesa Arch image. The collapse raised questions about the safety of arches, and more pointedly, the regulations pertaining to clamoring on them. But restrictions, it seems, pertain to technical climbing activities, and it is evidently legal to "walk" across the arches.

I can't say I really 'feel' for Sierra Club getting a tender part of their anatomy caught in the wringer, but in this case it was mostly 'circumstance' that made them look crass.