RV hitch company owner in hot water over vandalizing Utah arch

    Andersen and family pose with the graffiti. The children’s faces have been blurred to protect their identity.

    An iconic natural arch near Moab, Utah, was vandalized last week, and photographs widely shared on social media have brought RV hitch owner Ryan Andersen and his family under scrutiny. Andersen is the owner of Andersen Hitches.

    A customer of the company spotted a photo of the vandalism online and sounded the alarm.

    The incident sparked nationwide outrage on social media, where many identified the family posed in front of graffiti etched into Corona Arch, a famous sandstone feature west of Moab between Canyonlands and Arches national parks.  

    Corona Arch. Photo: Jessica Petersen/Flickr

    The graffiti in question include the lines “18” — a reference to the current year — and the initials “R” and “J” with a heart drawn between them. They were scratched into the base of the arch, in an area that features prominently in most nature photographs of the area.

    The arch is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. According to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Melodie Rydalch, the BLM is authorized to issue a citation against Andersen. “The U.S. Attorney’s office will likely be filing charges in the case,” she said.

    Federal law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to “willfully deface, disturb, remove or destroy any personal property, or structures, or any scientific, cultural, archaeological or historic resource, natural object or area” on public lands. The maximum penalty for such a violation is a $100,000 fine and one year in prison.

    Andersen later apologized on his blog writing, in part: “While hiking in the Moab area with my family, I drew with a sandstone shard, a heart with my and my wife’s initials and the year above it. At that moment, I foolishly thought I was conveying my love for my wife when, in fact, I was tarnishing the experience for others who also want to enjoy magnificent scenery. My actions were wrong. I am extremely sorry for my conduct.”

    Leave a Comment

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    newest oldest most voted
    Notify of

    We live next door to the Great Smokies and hike often there. Anyplace you can possibly put your name is used to do this. The old buildings, the wood bridges, wood guard rails, and even the rocks are used . Why do people come to these beautiful places and do this nonsense??

    Marvin & Sue

    F. Gisler

    “Teach Your Children Well” . . . . .


    I hope his personal reputation and fortunes are damaged for as long as his defacement exists. He wanted to be noticed. He is noticed. BTW, his “apology” was merely another posed-and-pretty pic of him and his “lovely (fellow-criminal) wife” smiling again for the camera.

    I’ll never knowingly purchase or help him in any manner.

    “Take nothing but Memories. Leave nothing but footprints.”

    Seann Fox

    Not only in poor taste but what did this teach his children?


    total douche ….what were you thinking ……oh ya not.


    Besides a substantial fine he should be required to do many hours of community service cleaning up graffiti.


    Glad to read in Mr. Andersen’s blog that he apologized and made reparations for the graffiti.

    I’m certain this incident and everyone’s comments has had a tremendous affect on him and his family and that they are now proponents for conservation of natural resources.

    I applaud him for facing this matter directly and trying to rectify it.
    There are certainly others out there that vandalize and could care less.


    Maybe next time just buy her flowers.

    Brian Holmes

    Yes yes he was a bad boy and people will learn from other peoples mistakes so there is some benefit from this. Now go ahead and rub it off with a piece of sandstone like another has said and you can go on to the next injustice you find on the internet. I just bought one of his hitches, nice design and forever will change how you hitch up your 5th wheel. I just read how a another cop got shot and killed doing his job and no dought will NOT get as much coverage as this. Wonder why?

    William Ainsworth

    My grandmother would say when we found this kind of graffiti. “Fool’s names and fool’s faces always appear in public places.

    peggy coffey

    Please Mr. Andersen, don’t bring your family to Washington D.C. We will see your graffiti of undying love for your wife everywhere.

    Mike & Louise Bacque

    This appears to be a sign of the present times where everybody is getting into RVing yet many haven’t a clue how to behave in the outdoors. My wife and I manage a private campground and shake ours heads in disbelief too many times at what some believe to be acceptable conduct in a campground. Seems to me that if you get involved in a new activity you do some research into the do and don’t and best practices.

    Tommy Molnar

    We all realize this was not a smart move on their part. But let’s not forget – all the petroglyphs we so heartily revere were early forms of graffiti, but we don’t look at it like that. We look at it like a history lesson. Who knows, 400 years from now someone would look at this and ‘reflect’ on an earlier time. Of course, if this went ‘unfixed’ there would be tons of new graffiti that would be unacceptable.

    If you’ve ever had the chance to go through High Rock Canyon in Nevada you would see many many carvings (scratchings actually) on the canyon walls that are nothing more than emigrants initials scratched in while making their way west. We look at THOSE as history!

    I’m not saying this guy was making history but let’s put this in perspective. It was not a good idea at THIS point in history and he should do whatever is deemed proper in today’s ‘climate’.

    I think many of the comments here are “over the top”, but I KNOW I’ll catch hell for MY comment as well.

    Peter Morgenstern

    Think of what he is teaching his children. No respect for property that is not his!!
    For all the supporters of his stupidity, how would you like it if he did that to your garage door or the generations old tree in your front yard? How about the door on your car??
    Point is, if you don’t own, don’ brand it!!


    Ryan Anderson’s contact info:
    208-523-6460 or 800-635-6106
    Andersen Hitches
    3125 N Yellowstone Hwy
    Idaho Falls, ID 83401


    This a shining example of the huge lack of morals and ethics problem in America anymore.It’s hard to fix stupid.

    Sam Lunt

    Wow! What a bunch of fierce, unforgiving comments! It’s sandstone for crying out loud! Super easy to erase! As easy as it was to make the writing in the first place. You just take a rock and rub it all over and feather the edges and no one will ever know after a few weeks of sun and rain on it.
    Easy fix.
    And realize that his unthinking mistake is roughly on par with the hasty, mean comments posted here that will probably be regretted as well, as I am sure you… and he… are good people. Just humans being a little hasty without adequate thought.


    Seems to be a lot of stone throwing in this case. Are there really that many vindictive people out there. Can everyone doing so honestly say they have never done something stupid they later regret?

    Some folks want to see this guy ruined, along with all the people who work for him. For what, a utterly stupid, thoughtless indiscretion. He certainly needs to pay for restoration of this action, and if we see that he repents in ways that better awareness of the stupidness of actions like this, something at least will be gained. What is to be gained by destroying a persons life, along with that of his family? Would you really feel better if this happened.

    Besides, the result of what he did is not really that bad, just scuff marks on rock. Something that can easily be brought back to near what it was like to before his actions.

    Is the action forgivable, no! Is the person forgivable, his actions henceforth will tell.

    Dennis Pelaez

    He needs to step up and fix the damage. I do not want to see a stupidity reminder when I go there in October!


    Maybe we could all send our comment direct to the company email? I just did. Bunch of jerks, and told them that I won’t be doing any business with them.