Update: Rocky Mountain National Park may not have been the only site in Colorado tagged by accused vandal Casey Nocket. The National Park Service announced in a memo on October 29 that it was investigating Nocket for allegedly defacing Colorado National Monument, as well as RMNP and seven other national parks across the western United States. According to the agency, the graffiti in Rocky Mountain was reported and cleaned up in September.
Original post: New Yorker Casey Nocket allegedly defaced rock formations in as many as ten national parks around the U.S., painting faces and other designs using permanent acrylics and broadcasting the results on social media. Here in Colorado, the graffiti artist is suspected of leaving her mark on one of the state's most-visited slices of wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Now, thanks to some crowdsourced detective work from the National Park Service and Reddit, her days of using America's public lands as her canvas may be coming to an end.
Until recently, Nocket wasn't shy about her vandalism. On her Instagram account, the 21-year-old, who signed her work using the handle Creepytings, posted pictures of herself sketching a face on a sandstone formation in Utah's Canyonlands. She also posted snaps of finished pictures in Zion, Crater Lake, and several other parks. (Nocket's Instagram account has since been deleted, but Modern Hiker, which first publicized the photos, managed to take screenshots of many of the photos first.)
In a comment on one photo from Crater Lake, Nocket said that she had used acrylic paint, not chalk, to create the works.
"I know, I'm a bad person," she added.
That's one point the National Park Service probably wouldn't argue. In a statement released on Thursday, the agency said it was investigating reports of vandalism in "at least ten" national parks across five states, including Colorado.
"There are forums for artistic expression in national parks because national parks inspire artistic creativity. These images are outside that forum and outside the law," the agency wrote.
In an Internet-age twist, the serial vandalism came to the park service's attention after a visitor on Yosemite's Vernal Falls stock trail saw one of the paintings and posted a picture of it to Reddit's Yosemite section. Steve Yu, an investigator working for the NPS in Yosemite, saw the post and joined the discussion, asking users to e-mail him the information they had gathered.
The agency's official statement, which doesn't mention Nocket by name, identifies five vandalized parks -- Yosemite, Death Valley, Crater Lake, Zion, and Canyonlands -- and five for which the National Park Service was still awaiting confirmation. Included in that second group is one Colorado destination, Rocky Mountain National Park.
While the NPS hasn't officially confirmed that Rocky Mountain was among the parks that Nocket tagged, at least one visitor to the park believes he found her work as early as last month. According to National Parks Traveler, hiker Bill Stock photographed a graffiti head painted on a rock that, in addition to bearing Creepytings' signature, is nearly identical to pictures Nocket posted from other parks.
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The aspiring artist doesn't seem to have limited her efforts to the wilderness. One Instagram shot geotagged to The Ginn Mill in Ballpark shows the same drawing of a face scrawled on a tile wall.
Should the government bring federal charges against Nocket, she could potentially face up to six months in jail and $5,000 in fines for defacing national park property.