Saguaro Cacti Tagged By Vandals At Saguaro National Park

This saguaro was one of at least eight that were spray-painted by vandals at Saguaro National Park. NPS photo.

It appears little is free from graffiti vandalism, not even age-old saguaro cacti at Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona.

Park Superintendent Darla Sidles reports that at least eight saguaros and some boulders along the Douglas Springs Trail in the park's Rincon District were tagged by the spray-paint-wielding vandals sometime last weekend.

Some of the saguaros that were defaced were as much as 150 years old, according to the superintendent.

"They were seedlings during our nation's civil war and have stood this long inside what is now a national park-designated wilderness area, designed to protect them," Superintendent Sidles said in a news release.

Anyone with information about the vandalism can call the Saguaro National Park Information Hotline at 520-733-5150.


Horrible. Could you blur the tag or completely hide it? No sense in giving these morons a reason to do more. Thanks.

Use to be just on our trains.Now in our Natl. Parks.

No respect for anything or anybody.To hell in a handbasket we go.

Don't think that is so unusual. Our buildings get "tagged," our waterfalls get "tagged", our rocks get "tagged". It comes with being near a metro area, not controlling unsupervised access to the park, and having folks with little respect for nature, history, or much, visiting the park. It is the worst because it starts small and eats progressively away at everything in the park as time goes on.

Would amputation be to harsh of a penalty?

Amputation of what? I suggest the head.

Felicity Barringer from the NY Times here. This looks like a story to me. HAs anyone on this site heard of other instances of wilderness graffiti, in National Parks or other remote and beautiful places (I think I heard about some graffiti near the petroglyphs in Utah's Nine Mile Canyon a few years ago). If there's more of this out there, I'd really like to know. Best e-mail is . Just put Park Graffiti in the subject line. Or follow up on this thread...Many thanks


Felicity -- out here in the wild west, it's usually not paint that is used for graffiti but bullets. Petroglyphs are favorite targets of some of our gun-totin', rootin' tootin' locals. (Along with pit toilets, roadsigns, and almost anything else that gets in the way of a flying chunk of their lead.)

But hey, they're just exercising their Second Amendment rights . . . . .

Felicity, you can start a little closer to NYC. There are parks in the vicinity (Gateway NRA, Statue of Liberty, Morristown, Delaware Water Gap NRA, Steamtown) that struggle with graffiti. Contact the superintendents of the respective units and have them direct you. Post back here if you need help.

Sadly, this seems to be a growing problem in other western parks as well, and some of those have been covered on the Traveler:

Here are links to stories on a current problem at Joshua Tree National Park, and an earlier one at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

FWIW, I believe Felicity is based on the "left" coast...

Feilicity, here are a few photos of bullet and modern scratchings on ancient petroglyphs located in Dinosaur National Park. You can find bullet holes in almost all petroglyphs everywhere in the southwest.

Road signs take their share of hits, too.

Thanks to all who posted advice or contacted me separately. I'm on the case. And yes, I'm based in the SF Bay area, but I can certianly call the NYC-area parks. The thing that's interesting to me is that people are going so far away from urban areas to do their tagging.

And yes, "tagging" with bullets sure sems part of the same phenomenon.



I grew up living in the National Parks and Saguaro was the first one. This trend is eveidence that "you can't fix stupid". Park funding to protect and educate visitors is one of the first to be cut and yet this is part of our history and heritage. I have had the privilege of living in areas that are the best part of our country. It breaks my heart that my grandchildren will not be able to see them without seeing evidence of the most irresponsible segments of our society.

Felicity Barringer's article in the New York times was featured yesterday morning as an item in the NPS daily Digest. Here's a link:

And a link to the NPS Digest article:

Thanks, Felicity. Great work.

Speaking of Dinosaur National Monument(not Park), there was an incident of vandalism in 2000 that actually resulted in conviction and time served! Felicity, you might look into the hand slaps that most vandals receive.

i think those who are doing all these vandals are uneducated or if they are educated, they don't understand or doesn't care about how important is the nature in our ecosystems. i guess they will only care of it once they realize that it's all gone and it may be too late already. hope they can change their lifestyle in doing such act.

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Anybody else remember a few years back when justice was served on a man in Arizona who was shooting up a saguaro with his shotgun -- and part of it fell off and crushed him? Here's one link:

I wouldn't mind seeing the current perps tarred and feathered, at bare minimum...

From the NPS Digest, Friday June 14

Conservation Corps Crews Clean Up Trail Graffiti

[Printer-friendly text version]

Members of the Southwest Conservation Corps assisted the park this week with the removal of graffiti along the Douglas Spring Trail, one of the park’s most popular trails. The clean-up project was arranged in response to last month’s vandalism, which included the tagging of 48 sites along three-and-a-half miles of this wilderness trail.

This incident was featured in a June 4th New York Times story on the upswing in vandalism in the national parks. Click on the “More Information” link below to see that article.

The SCC donated two, seven-person youth crews to the park to assist staff in cleaning rocks, water bars, and trail signs using “elephant snot”, a green product found to be effective in removing the graffiti paint. This product is also currently being tested on two of the eleven saguaros that were tagged. While it appears to be effective at removing paint from the saguaros, more tests and monitoring are needed to assure no additional damage is done through use of the product.

The Southwest Conservation Corps engages and trains a diverse group of young women and men and completes conservation projects for the public benefit. They will continue to work in the park over the next two weeks assisting with invasive species removal and trail maintenance.

More Information...

Contact Information
Name: Esther Rivera, Community Outreach Coordinator