Vandalism in the National Parks

It's just not cool at all


I stare down from a Rocky Mountain pass as wisps of feathered clouds set fire in the setting sun. The entire sky reaches a furious roar of red and orange before slowly fading into the deep purples of night. A slivered moon hangs above the peaks. This sunset reminds me no matter the roller-coaster of life, this sun and moon will remain rising and falling to infinity. As the beauty of the sky fills me, the recent story of an American who forgot her insignificance, defacing wild places like this one, nags at my mind.

This national idiot emerged from the cesspits of social media late last week. According to Casey Schreiner of, Casey Nocket went on a savage rampage of over eight national parks this summer. She attacked pristine wilderness with her self-deemed art and then preceded to slather Tumblr and Instagram with proud photos of her crimes. This story left me sick to my stomach as if someone smeared Notre Dame with their art because Nocket vandalized my church – the wild.

Despite its illegalness, Graffiti remains one of the rawest forms of art in our country. It turns the polluted odds and ends of dilapidated cities into vibrant places of expression. It transforms the ugly into the gritty beautiful while showing thought provoking messages. It requires no museum fee or wall space, but bravely interrupts the order of society to exist. Graffiti stands as the art of the people and plays a vital role in society.

Nocket’s vandalism, though stupidly illegal, is not graffiti but poor art without a valuable message. Most importantly, she vandalized the wild NOT civilization.

Vandalism in urban places creates another human imprint in a place already distorted by a trampling of human footsteps. National parks, refuges from human effect, lie on the opposite spectrum. Parks shame us into irrelevance with their unsuppressed beauty of nature.

Humanity will never come close to creating anything as spectacular as the massive gorge of the Grand Canyon, the stunning stone arches of Utah, or the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Much like churches and other places of worship, outdoor enthusiasts escape into the wild to find peace in the triviality of life and themselves.

The separation of these wild places from society creates their irreplaceable splendor. These parks are places of spirituality, places of glory, and places of remarkable beauty.

Nocket dared to deface these places of rare perfection. She dared to draw in the halls of these cathedrals. She dared to use the wild selfishly as a canvas to serve her whims. She dared think herself worthy to demark nature’s miraculous feats. She dared to cement her crude footprint in a place preserved from human chaos. She dared claim ownership over an untamable and priceless place. She dared to mark million-year old rocks with her petty art – rocks that stood long before the first human footprint and will stand long after the last fades away.

She vandalize not a rock but nature’s Vatican.

These vast and raw places transcend beyond human impermanence, and Nocket shattered this unspoken law of our land. These parks remain a strong hold for freedom and beauty in an ever increasing world of cruelty and conformity.

Nocket’s defacement flagrantly marred the spirit of America and thus every one of its citizens. Though easy to reduce to a single stupid city girl, she represents a plague in America. Her attitude towards this nation’s wild places is not unique, but increasingly common, in a nation where the people are growing farther and farther away their environment. Our society places no value on wilderness, and people will neither respect nor value a thing they do not understand. The discovery channel replaces tree houses while Americans receive more exposure to nature from glass screens than their own eyes.

Nocket’s crimes are nauseating, but the reaction of surprise from the outdoor community is more sickening. How can we be surprised that people possess no respect for our national parks when we allow our culture to place so little worth in wilderness?

Children spend less than 30 minutes outside a day according to the national Wildlife Federation while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average American wasted almost 3 hours a day on TV in 2013.

Nocket represents the average American and that needs to change. Those of us who love the wild must start advocating and educating those around us. If the outdoor community continues to let America remain ignorant to the importance of wilderness, a few paintings on rocks will be the least of the problems. The responsibility to educated others about the worth of this countries astounding outdoors accompanies our privilege to revel in them.

The wilderness will fall victim to this country’s ignorance if we refuse to speak up. The fences of humanity’s greed and ambition will imprison and destroy these wild places. The significance of these lands remains infinite. After all, only a simple chance collision of stars –creating oxygen and carbon, fiery skies and slivered moons –allow us to walk on this earth in wonder.

Casey Nocket needs to be prosecuted to the full extent for her arrogant crimes. But more important than justice being done to her, we must instill an appreciation for our wilderness in all Americans so not to reduce these wild lands to amusement parks.



Inspired by the wild. I grew up being dragged, by my Dad, to many of the most beautiful places this country has to offer. Always looking for the next adventure. 

  2 comments for “Vandalism in the National Parks

  1. Don
    October 28, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Let’s run her out of town on a rail. I will light the first torch.

  2. dale durham
    October 29, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    LJ, excellent thought provoking and insightful article! You are so very correct in your assessment of the irreparable damage she did to our natural resources by her self serving and self aggrandizing actions! From my perspective her motive was to deface, period. It was as if she wanted to gain attention to herself by attacking what cannot or could not protect itself. Our vanishing natural resources!

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