A canyon in a popular section of Joshua Tree National Park that was closed last month so that park staff could assess major vandalism will be closed to the public for at least another month.
Rattlesnake Canyon was closed to the public in early April after rangers discovered a rash of spray-painted graffiti on the canyon's rock walls and boulders. The canyon extends from the upper end of the Indian Cove day-use area deep into the Wonderland of Rocks section of the park, and is a popular bouldering spot.
Compounding the vandalism is the fact that the culprits apparently publicized the canyon's location on social media, attracting a swarm of imitators to the area. Though park staff and volunteers have succeeded in cleaning up much of the spray paint, enough remains -- and in sensitive enough spots -- that another month of closure is needed to fully assess the damage and the cost of restoration.
Rattlesnake Canyon is just one spot in the park that's been hit by vandals, the nearby Barker Dam was closed to public access earlier this year after being vandalized by visitors, and park staff regularly find other places that have been marred by vandalism.
In its press release announcing the extended closure of Rattlesnake Canyon, the Park Service offers a reminder that it welcomes visitor help in reporting on and identifying those few visitors who persist in being unclear on the whole "National Park" and "unimpaired" concept. If you see someone vandalizing Park resources, tell a ranger.