Rangers at Utah's Arches National Park are investigating large graffiti carved so deeply into a famous red rock arch that it might be impossible to erase, officials say. The carvings discovered earlier this month measure about 4 feet across and 3 feet high, park Superintendent Kate Cannon says. The vandalism is part of a "tidal wave of graffiti" at Arches and other national parks in recent years, she notes. Two years ago, at least eight national parks in the West began the delicate task of cleaning up graffiti-like paintings left on famous, picturesque landscapes, the AP reports. The damage was discovered after images were shared on social media.
The Arches rock formation, commonly known as Frame Arch, is off a popular hiking trail. Cannon says the graffiti was etched so deeply that it might have taken at least an hour for someone to carve. She says park workers can try to reduce the carving's visibility by grinding down the rock around it, but that causes further damage to the surface. They could also try to fill in the etchings with some kind of material that blends in, but it's unclear if that would be a permanent or unnoticeable treatment. Cannon says she hopes someone will come forward with information about the vandals, who left the names "Staten" and "Andersen" carved into the arch, the Deseret News reports. (This national park vandal signed the graffiti with her Instagram handle.)