Wednesday, February 8, 2023


Shameful vandalism, trash, human waste at all-time high in recreation areas

According to a TIME magazine article published last July, one mounting reason the National Park Service closed a significant percentage of its parks in spring of 2020, coinciding with the onset of mass closures following the onset of COVID-19, was the accumulation of trash and human waste and decimation of plant life off-trail. The author reports the behavior of folks new to hiking forced the decision to close specific parks and sections of trails early. COVID-19 and its after-effects further kept many parks closed for as much as a year.

Littering and graffiti – Shameful

Many of us who enjoy exploring trails and experiencing nature’s beauty firsthand would agree with the author of the TIME article. He was appalled at seeing the graffiti on the rock wall. Two summers ago, my spouse and I took a wilderness rafting trip around Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. During one of our stops, we hiked back to see the Ancestral Puebloans’ (called Anasazi) petroglyphs, some 800 years old. Like all monuments, the petroglyphs were roped-off, as no one was allowed near the wall. Despite that measure, we were disgusted to observe graffiti painted on the petroglyph wall. It was shameful.

Others frowned who witnessed the same

On our return hike back to the boat, I stopped to chat with a park ranger. She stated the park may request restoration and cleanup of the wall, but it all depended upon funding.

For those who hiked up to the petroglyphs, you could only imagine their thought processes as they viewed them. They frowned, and some pointed to the graffiti and shook their heads, dismayed at what they viewed. New people are getting out in the wilderness with little clue on etiquette, simple common-sense habits and negative environmental impact. It appears that littering and graffiti are to be acceptable, just as lack of social etiquette is a foregone conclusion. Thank goodness for volunteers.

Another horrific act of vandalism

In April, a prehistoric petroglyph was defaced in Moab with the words “White Power.” Despite the canyon being popular with off-roaders, mountain bikers and hikers, the area had managed to avoid graffiti until now. The Bureau of Land Management is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information on who committed this terrible act of vandalism.

Littering has far-reaching effects

Littering has a far-reaching impact on our ecosystem. It affects both plant life and animals. And it also affects our enjoyment when we witness a complete lack of respect for nature.


Another campground closed due to vandalism



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

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

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

No big deal. I have a 30′ class “A”. I have sturdy rubber gloves and 3 mil heavy duty contractor bags on board. Instead of complaining I just scoop up all the trash (including human waste) bag it, take it home and throw it in my dumpster. You’d be amazed how far a little effort goes into beautifying the area. I figure it’s a small price to pay for boondocking. Others do likewise. The litterers are few and far between but make an enormous impact.

Neal Davis
1 year ago

I have not seen any, but I never have. I guess that we camp the wrong (right?) places, or just too little. Consequently, I did not vote

1 year ago

I’m not sure what is going on with litter. Back in the 50s and 60s I recall seeing signs along the roads stating “Do Not Litter” and a fine posted. I don’t recall seeing them anymore. So was littering a problem back then as well? We need to teach the history of Parks and what they mean to us. We evidently screwed up in not teaching our kids to teach their kids??

DL Jenson
1 year ago

I pick up litter constantly~ and every year it gets worse! I wish there was a way to educate people that you need to leave places better for the next person to enjoy!

1 year ago

I think it has been the same and getting worse but not because of Covid. It is people’s attitudes toward litter – someone else will clean it up. I remember growing up there was the big push to catch people who litter. I remember panicking when the wind would catch a piece of paper taking it out the window, afraid mom would get a ticket for littering. Police actually ticketed people for littering on the highways. Now they don’t. Littering has taken a back seat to cell phones and other problems. Where I am is the road on the way to the dump. No sooner has the litter been picked up that it starts again.

That dumpster picture reminds me of the dumpsters in our RV park. Instead of walking to the two by the office they will just pile it as high as they can in ones that are full. Too many people just don’t care.

1 year ago

I saw much more littering in Yellowstone NP last year. The attitude, when I confronted one hiker was that someone else would/should take care of it. I gave them their trash which they politely dropped on the ground. The NPS ranger saw this and not only ticketed them for littering but gave them their trash and pointed to the trash receptacle. They got an expensive lesson.

1 year ago

Having not been out and about, I have not noticed an increase. I hope to not notice it this year as I return to similar areas. Your article has me fearful and disgusted. Here you are preaching to the choir. How do we teach others that nature is not theirs to deface as they do in metropolitan areas?

1 year ago
Reply to  Jeb

I have used my cell phone to record such acts, turning the video over to the park authorities. Just be aware that it can lead to an ugly moment with the perps.

1 year ago

The increase in trash, and all the rest started way before Covid. In my lifetime it has gotten worse every year. And I’m no spring chicken. I pick up trash where ever I am all the time.

Bob Frapples
1 year ago

No Answer here. Charge Everyone using these Trails. Use the Money for Security, Maintenance and Cleanup. Go Hike and Drive New Zealand. No Litter for the most part. Unless the Non Litterers pick up after the Air Wasting Loser Litterers we can’t win.
Pick up something next time you hike. If everyone does a little. Nobody does a lot.

Terri R
1 year ago

Have been saddened by the amount of trash on the beaches, fishing piers, in the bathhouses, pavilions I have seen this past year out camping. Have noticed that trash cans provided were often overfilled. Any normal year many of us would have picked up that plastic bottle dumped & thrown it in the trash but the need for self preservation to remain healthy and not carrying hand sanitizer all the time has prevented many of us from doing that.
Can praise the FL state park CG hosts – every site we have pulled in to has been clean & neat and want to say thanx!

Tom M
1 year ago

It is not a lack of knowledge that causes the filth and destruction, it is an “all about me attitude” and don’t tell me what I can and cannot do. We saw this with face masks.

1 year ago

what i have noticed is all the dog poop bags lying around. appreciate the thought to clean up the trail but who is going to pick up all the bags?

Subscribe to our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.