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Historic “Cliff Dwellings” at Mesa Verde Vandalized With Heathen Symbol

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The Pueblo ‘Cliff Palace’ is a beautifully unique historical site, carved and molded out of sandstone and mortar nearly approximately 700 years ago in a massive feat of pre-industrial engineering. It has been a federally protected site since 1889.  Unfortunately, in recent years the park has been dealing with more and more incidents of defacement, littering, and intentional destruction of artifacts. Yesterday morning, at 8:00 AM, the Mesa Verde National Park posted the following.

Historic site defaced with a Mjölnir carving and a misspelled 'Ásatrú'.
Historic site defaced with a Mjölnir carving and a misspelled ‘Ásatrú’.

In a public statement, park officials said the following: 


As the summer progresses and visitation increases, we are seeing more and more evidence of graffiti, vandalization, and intentional littering throughout Mesa Verde National Park. This comes in many forms and across many surfaces. In one of the pictures below, you’ll see names rubbed onto the sandstone using prehistoric charcoal which a visitor dug up in an archaeological site along the Petroglyph Point Trail. Not only did this/these individuals vandalize the cliff side, they destroyed archaeological artifacts to do so.

The purpose of the National Park Service is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. Please help us in this effort and refrain from creating graffiti, intentionally littering, causing damage to or otherwise disturbing the landscape in all National Parks. If you see others engaging in any of these acts, please report this activity to the nearest Park Ranger or to staff in the Chief Ranger’s Office located next to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum.

Despite the fact that this is the mission and purpose of the National Park Service, we are seeing a growing number of instances of intentional damage throughout NPS sites every year. Why do you think people do this? What do you think the intent is and what can we do as a culture to cut down on these occurrences?

Thank you to all of the visitors who do visit with respect. Let us all leave no trace, educate others about proper stewardship of public lands, and enjoy these wonderful landscapes as they are.


Park Rangers are still searching for any information on who may have defaced the federally protected site. (A federal misdemeanor,  punishable by three to six months in prison and potentially a $500 fine). Any information can be reported to the following:

Phone: Headquarters – 970-529-4465
Fax: 970-529-4637
Email 


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