Irresponsible visitors who couldn't resist carving their initials into the soft sandstone at Arches National Park in Utah have prompted the closure of an area near one of the park's iconic arches.
Park Superintendent Kate Cannon on Tuesday closed an area just southeast of Sand Dune Arch to protect geologic resources.
"The purpose of the closure is to prevent further defacing of natural sandstone surfaces by scratching, carving, and other forms of vandalism ...," she wrote in the order. "Other measures, including public outreach, an active messaging campaign, and ranger patrols have not been sufficient for preventing vandalism in this location."
Park Service experts are analyzing what can be done with the graffiti, but are not optimistic they can remove it all.
"Some of it is so deeply incised, we're really sort of pondering what the options are. Some of it is pretty easy to erase, some of it is probably not," said Paul Henderson, the park's assistant superintendent, on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, it grows like a cancer. As soon as there is some, everybody else, 'Hey, I want my name, I want my design.'"