During our recent visit to Death Valley National Park (March 10-11, 2017), we saw what appeared to be a van stranded out in the middle of the salt flat at Badwater Basin. Badwater Basin is known as the lowest point in North America, but is also a giant salt flat that must be seen to be appreciated. The van appeared to be stranded about 3/4 of a mile or so into the salt flat with tracks left behind in the salt. The next morning we went up to Dante’s Peak and got an aerial view of the damage to the salt flat. Unfortunately, this visible damage will take years to recover.
This picture of the vandalism isn’t the best, but was taken from the top of Dante’s Peak the following morning. This picture also shows the size of the salt flat.
This is just the latest in National Park vandalism that has occurred in recent years. Just last year, the Racetrack portion of Death Valley NP was vandalized by a rampaging tourist in an SUV. Also in recent years, we have had names etched into iconic arches in Arches NP, Canadians walking on the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone NP, and street art sprayed onto multiple buildings and rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park among many other acts of vandalism.
There have even been serial vandals like the Casey Nocket who tagged the message “Creepytings” in eight National Parks including Crater Lake NP, Zion NP, and Yosemite NP, among others and then posted the vandalism on social media. She was caught due to her stupidity and fortunately prosecuted. rk