Vandalism investigated at 10 national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park

By: Lance Benzel lance.benzel@gazette.com
October 22, 2014 Updated: October 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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photo - Overlooking Crater Lake in Oregon. (Instagram, via modernhiker.com)
Overlooking Crater Lake in Oregon. (Instagram, via modernhiker.com) 

The National Park Service is pursuing a woman who apparently painted murals and other artistic graffiti on rocks at 10 national parks across the western U.S., possibly including Rocky Mountain National Park.

The graffiti was brought to light Wednesday by a post on modernhiker.com, which presented screen grabs from photos it said the vandal posted to her Instagram account.

Jeffrey Olson, an NPS spokesman, confirmed that park service law enforcement learned of the graffiti through a tip that directed them to the outdoors website.

Since then, rangers at five national parks reported finding graffiti such as that depicted in the photos, including at Canyonlands and Zion national parks in Utah, Olson said.

Rocky Mountain National Park is among the other national parks that have yet to send word confirming vandalism, Olson said.

“Because this is under investigation, we cannot comment on it,” Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson told The Gazette by email.

The Instagram account that originally displayed the photos, @creepytings, has been turned to private.

Entries preserved by modernhiker.com show a blonde-haired woman in hiking gear posing as she paints on rocks. A woman’s brightly colored face and a man’s profile with a snake emerging from his mouth are among the images pictured on rocks, all signed “Creepytings 2014.”

The artist strikes an unapologetic tone in an exchange with an Instagram commenter who asks, “Is that paint or chalk?”

“Acrylic,” she answers.  “I know, I’m a bad person.”

Olson couldn’t say if the graffiti discovered was indeed left in acrylic paint. He also didn’t know if the woman had been contacted by NPS law enforcement officers handling the investigation.

“I just don’t have those details,” he said.

Defacing property in a national park is a federal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The other parks that have confirmed finding vandalism are Yosemite and Death Valley national parks in California and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Aside from Rocky Mountain National Park, the NPS is awaiting confirmation from Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California; Joshua Tree National Park, California; and Bryce National Park, Utah.

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