RV hitch company owner in hot water over vandalizing Utah arch

Andersen and family pose with the graffiti. The children’s faces have been blurred to protect their identity.

An iconic natural arch near Moab, Utah, was vandalized last week, and photographs widely shared on social media have brought RV hitch owner Ryan Andersen and his family under scrutiny. Andersen is the owner of Andersen Hitches.

A customer of the company spotted a photo of the vandalism online and sounded the alarm.

The incident sparked nationwide outrage on social media, where many identified the family posed in front of graffiti etched into Corona Arch, a famous sandstone feature west of Moab between Canyonlands and Arches national parks.  

Corona Arch. Photo: Jessica Petersen/Flickr

The graffiti in question include the lines “18” — a reference to the current year — and the initials “R” and “J” with a heart drawn between them. They were scratched into the base of the arch, in an area that features prominently in most nature photographs of the area.

The arch is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. According to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson Melodie Rydalch, the BLM is authorized to issue a citation against Andersen. “The U.S. Attorney’s office will likely be filing charges in the case,” she said.

Federal law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to “willfully deface, disturb, remove or destroy any personal property, or structures, or any scientific, cultural, archaeological or historic resource, natural object or area” on public lands. The maximum penalty for such a violation is a $100,000 fine and one year in prison.

Andersen later apologized on his blog writing, in part: “While hiking in the Moab area with my family, I drew with a sandstone shard, a heart with my and my wife’s initials and the year above it. At that moment, I foolishly thought I was conveying my love for my wife when, in fact, I was tarnishing the experience for others who also want to enjoy magnificent scenery. My actions were wrong. I am extremely sorry for my conduct.”


64 Thoughts to “RV hitch company owner in hot water over vandalizing Utah arch”

  1. Marvin

    We live next door to the Great Smokies and hike often there. Anyplace you can possibly put your name is used to do this. The old buildings, the wood bridges, wood guard rails, and even the rocks are used . Why do people come to these beautiful places and do this nonsense??

    Marvin & Sue

  2. F. Gisler

    “Teach Your Children Well” . . . . .

  3. George

    I hope his personal reputation and fortunes are damaged for as long as his defacement exists. He wanted to be noticed. He is noticed. BTW, his “apology” was merely another posed-and-pretty pic of him and his “lovely (fellow-criminal) wife” smiling again for the camera.

    I’ll never knowingly purchase or help him in any manner.

    “Take nothing but Memories. Leave nothing but footprints.”

  4. Seann Fox

    Not only in poor taste but what did this teach his children?

  5. john

    total douche ….what were you thinking ……oh ya not.

  6. Jen

    Besides a substantial fine he should be required to do many hours of community service cleaning up graffiti.

    1. JIM SMITH

      jen, And some jail time and not just a couple weekends.

  7. Debadoo

    Glad to read in Mr. Andersen’s blog that he apologized and made reparations for the graffiti.

    I’m certain this incident and everyone’s comments has had a tremendous affect on him and his family and that they are now proponents for conservation of natural resources.

    I applaud him for facing this matter directly and trying to rectify it.
    There are certainly others out there that vandalize and could care less.

    1. Rory

      I read an apology, and I think the public appreciates that, but what reperations did he make?

    2. Chuck

      Like most who get caught they want to repent. Posted pictures?
      I’ll bet he will really be repentant if the BLM decides to make an example of him. You can’t fix stupid!

    3. Marty

      Unfortunately, Mr. Anderson has apparently repeated his graffiti behavior at several National Parks….. This based on another photo of Anderson and his wife, posing along with the name “Anderson” inscribed in 2 foot high letters.

    4. Jim

      He cares because he got CAUGHT.

    5. Chris

      You sound like you work for the PR firm that handles his apology.

  8. Jim

    Maybe next time just buy her flowers.

  9. Brian Holmes

    Yes yes he was a bad boy and people will learn from other peoples mistakes so there is some benefit from this. Now go ahead and rub it off with a piece of sandstone like another has said and you can go on to the next injustice you find on the internet. I just bought one of his hitches, nice design and forever will change how you hitch up your 5th wheel. I just read how a another cop got shot and killed doing his job and no dought will NOT get as much coverage as this. Wonder why?

  10. William Ainsworth

    My grandmother would say when we found this kind of graffiti. “Fool’s names and fool’s faces always appear in public places.

  11. peggy coffey

    Please Mr. Andersen, don’t bring your family to Washington D.C. We will see your graffiti of undying love for your wife everywhere.

  12. Mike & Louise Bacque

    This appears to be a sign of the present times where everybody is getting into RVing yet many haven’t a clue how to behave in the outdoors. My wife and I manage a private campground and shake ours heads in disbelief too many times at what some believe to be acceptable conduct in a campground. Seems to me that if you get involved in a new activity you do some research into the do and don’t and best practices.

  13. Tommy Molnar

    We all realize this was not a smart move on their part. But let’s not forget – all the petroglyphs we so heartily revere were early forms of graffiti, but we don’t look at it like that. We look at it like a history lesson. Who knows, 400 years from now someone would look at this and ‘reflect’ on an earlier time. Of course, if this went ‘unfixed’ there would be tons of new graffiti that would be unacceptable.

    If you’ve ever had the chance to go through High Rock Canyon in Nevada you would see many many carvings (scratchings actually) on the canyon walls that are nothing more than emigrants initials scratched in while making their way west. We look at THOSE as history!

    I’m not saying this guy was making history but let’s put this in perspective. It was not a good idea at THIS point in history and he should do whatever is deemed proper in today’s ‘climate’.

    I think many of the comments here are “over the top”, but I KNOW I’ll catch hell for MY comment as well.

    1. Sam Lunt

      Exactly, Tommy. Perspective is the word. It’s not far-fetched at all to imagine a thousand years from now if this graffiti survived, that similarly minded people in that time would condemned in the strictest manner someone who removed or defaced the hitch guy’s graffiti!

  14. Peter Morgenstern

    Think of what he is teaching his children. No respect for property that is not his!!
    For all the supporters of his stupidity, how would you like it if he did that to your garage door or the generations old tree in your front yard? How about the door on your car??
    Point is, if you don’t own, don’ brand it!!

    1. Tom Carsten

      I agree with Peter M.. And it is not like there are not warnings all over the place about defacing our NP’s.. Not that any reasonably intelligent person should need to be instructed or warned. Apology accepted but a fine & suspended jail sentence in lieu of community service are in order.. Of course I feel much the same way about inconsiderate persons that litter, leave dirty baby diapers & dog poop in our parks and along our hiking trails. No trash receptcle means: Carry In , Carry Out. .

  15. Kat

    Ryan Anderson’s contact info:
    208-523-6460 or 800-635-6106
    Andersen Hitches
    3125 N Yellowstone Hwy
    Idaho Falls, ID 83401

    1. Ed


      For all who would like to contact you, would you please post your full name, phone, physical address and email?

  16. Booneyrat

    This a shining example of the huge lack of morals and ethics problem in America anymore.It’s hard to fix stupid.

  17. Sam Lunt

    Wow! What a bunch of fierce, unforgiving comments! It’s sandstone for crying out loud! Super easy to erase! As easy as it was to make the writing in the first place. You just take a rock and rub it all over and feather the edges and no one will ever know after a few weeks of sun and rain on it.
    Easy fix.
    And realize that his unthinking mistake is roughly on par with the hasty, mean comments posted here that will probably be regretted as well, as I am sure you… and he… are good people. Just humans being a little hasty without adequate thought.

    1. MadMike

      Stupidest justifications like yours is WHY we are where we are today

      1. Danny

        Amen and Amen

        1. Carl

          I wonder if Sam would be of the same opinion if someone drew a big heart shape on the hood of his car with crayon. After all, all it would take to remove it is some rubbing compound and re wax of the hood. Nothing a few hours of labor couldn’t fix.

      2. Sam Lunt

        My comment was not justification. It was comparing a thoughtless act to equally thoughtless and unnecessarily vitriolic comments such as yours. Your eagerness to condemn others has gotten you to where you are today.

        1. RetiredChip

          Sam, having a different opinion from yours, does not make rhetoric vitriolic. Suggest you look up the definition of vitriol. I see similar adjectives in your comments as you accuse others.

        2. Cecilia

          Calling someone on their actions is not condemning them. Anderson put himself out in the public eye. Most of these comments are quite appropriate to the situation, including yours. Yes, in this case, it may be an easy fix esthetically. However, it is a person’s character and repeated poor judgement that lead to his actions that comments seem to be focused on.

    2. Cantbepc Anymore

      That really is a dumb response. Yes, it’s easy to “erase” the graffiti, but what makes the graffiti show up is the rubbing off of the naturally aged surface. Once rubbed off, the defaced area will be bigger and ugly.

      Mad Mike is correct. We have a really big problem today with people not thinking before they do things. What do you think he taught their children when he defaced that arch?

      People used to be taught by their parents to be thoughtful, respectful, considerate, and personally responsible for their behavior. No more. Now it’s more important to teach them to feel good about themselves and have self-esteem. It’s been forgotten that you feel good about yourself by accomplishing things. You gain self-esteem the same way, by doing the best you can to make your life better and maybe helping others do the same. Not by doing a juvenile act of defacement.

      MadMike was right. It is hard to fix stupid.

      1. carl

        Not only that but when confronted by others, he had his kids go to the family vehicle and remove the license plates and replace them with an different set he had in the car. Thus trying to conceal his identity. Who carries a different set of license plates and why would someone have them to begin with ?

        1. Chris

          It is not the first time he is suspected of marking our national treasures. I bet it is not the last.

      2. Sam Lunt

        Can’t be PC anymore… If I took a rock and rubbed It off and feathered the edges, and a couple of months later invited you over to find where it was and you didn’t know where it was before you wouldn’t be able to find it.

      3. Pamela Hill


    3. RetiredChip

      Sam, your comments are misdirected. Discarded cigarette butts on the ground are easily cleaned up as well. But who do you expect to do that chore? You? Tax[payer? Who? His actions, although not high crimes, are not defensible and show a lack of respect for others. Therefore, directing your concern to Mr. Anderson would be more appropriate.

      1. Sam Lunt

        Retired chip. All I’m trying to do is offer some perspective of priorities. What do you think is worse…. some scratches on a rock or a disposition to condemn a stranger so harshly for some thoughtless but fixable error? The vitriol here is over the top.

        1. RetiredChip

          Sam. Guess I’m not seeing what you see, especially vitriol as you suggest. People are expressing disapproval of Mr. Andersons actions. You, like Benny suggest its a ‘fixable error’ , but who fixes it? My suggestion to Benny is offered to you as well. You fix or pay for the ‘error’ to be repaired.

          1. Sam Lunt

            We are in full agreement there!

    4. Jim Harvey

      Sam – please publish your home address so, when we’re in your area, we all can drop by, spray paint graffiti on your house and windows. No big deal, right?

      1. Sam Lunt

        Jim. Look at what you wrote! You think a whole bunch of people doing something like painting all over my house is equal to one person scratching on a rock. How is that equal? It’s not. It proves my point. You all are over the top. I wouldn’t be surprised if y’all don’t think I’m an evil person for showing my fellow man a little mercy. There will be a day when you will want mercy. Hopefully you’ll get it and not be vilified by some of the people like in this comment section.

    5. Barb

      two peas in a pod

  18. Benny

    Seems to be a lot of stone throwing in this case. Are there really that many vindictive people out there. Can everyone doing so honestly say they have never done something stupid they later regret?

    Some folks want to see this guy ruined, along with all the people who work for him. For what, a utterly stupid, thoughtless indiscretion. He certainly needs to pay for restoration of this action, and if we see that he repents in ways that better awareness of the stupidness of actions like this, something at least will be gained. What is to be gained by destroying a persons life, along with that of his family? Would you really feel better if this happened.

    Besides, the result of what he did is not really that bad, just scuff marks on rock. Something that can easily be brought back to near what it was like to before his actions.

    Is the action forgivable, no! Is the person forgivable, his actions henceforth will tell.

    1. RetiredChip

      Benny, you’re over the top. I read through all the comments leading up to your comment and none of them describe what you are accusing them of. Most if not all, are critical of Mr. Anderson’s actions … so what? Are we now suppose to see criminal behavior and not comment because it might upset you? There is a simple test of your compassion … YOU do the repairs or pay for the repairs. But you won’t.

  19. Dennis Pelaez

    He needs to step up and fix the damage. I do not want to see a stupidity reminder when I go there in October!

    1. Cantbepc Anymore

      Sadly, because of the nature of what he did, it’ll be there. If they can “erase” it and somehow artificially “age” the repair, then maybe the damage can be masked.

      1. Jim Harvey

        Sam – No, I don’t think you’re evil. I suspect you’re a very nice guy with an unfortunate trait of defending stupid, needless criminal conduct while whining about those who seek justice.

        A few points…

        1. Where one graffiti shows up dozens of others follow. Unlike you, most of us don’t want to see our national monuments defaced by junk scribbles.

        2. It’ll take decades, if not centuries, for nature to erase this writing. Artificial removal will leave traces and contrasts.

        3. Spray painting graffiti on your home, seen by dozens, is much less offensive than defacing a national monument seen by hundreds of thousands.

        4. Without forceful ie “vitriolic” objections this kind of criminal conduct would be much more common. Is that what you want?

        5. Not objecting to this graffiti, but objecting to graffiti on your home, is hypocrisy.

        I’m sure you neither understand. Some guys like to cr*p where they stand and keep on walking.

        Best, Jim

        1. Sam Lunt

          Give me a rock or a cordless 90 degree grinder, and 5 minutes….. 5 minutes!…. And I could make it so that two months afterwards you would not be able to tell where it was. It’s in soft sandstone. Better yet make the guy who did it fix it. And what’s the difference between his graffiti and the graffiti that ancient inhabitants have left all over? Why is there graffiti “sacred”? Or were they evil as well?

          1. BILL BATEMAN

            Sam, it doesn’t sound like you’ve ever been to the Red Rocks areas of the southwest. That dark red patina cannot be permanently reproduced. Your grinder and attitude would only make things worse. When we travel we try to pick up a little knowledge on local geography. ..try it sometime .. It’s fun.


    Maybe we could all send our comment direct to the company email? I just did. Bunch of jerks, and told them that I won’t be doing any business with them.

  21. Cecilia

    Apology accepted. Now, clean it up and pay for restoration. A person who is truly sorry for his conduct follows with actions to correct it.
    Seeing these childish graffiti on anything beautiful in nature destroys the experience for everyone. It is insulting to others that a selfish person would claim something that belongs to everyone by imprinting their initials on it.

    1. Darrel

      He is sorry he was caught. People who were there asked him to stop and he refused. Then he sent his 2 teenage sons to change the plates on his vehicle! He carries spare plates? And puts plates on vehicles they do not belong to??????????

  22. Pat Wallace

    What a jerk. He deffinatly should have to pay to have it fully restored. But the sad part about this whole thing is that a family that makes a living in an industry that is a by product of all outdoor ventures can possibly be so stupid as to deface any natural landmark. I sure hope I don’t have to see it when I visit this year!!

  23. Chipper

    I hope they sentence them to having their home and all future cars etched with the same graffiti so everyone can witness their expression of “undying love”. Thoughtless nitwits they are.

  24. Glenn

    Just another scumbag. Sad that there are so many of them. Raising their children to be the same. And so it continues.

  25. Susan F

    If he isn’t pursued criminally, then he should make a contribution to the park service for the maximum amount of the fine as a sign of his being “sorry” for being stupid and selfish.

  26. Sunnypetunia

    The real question is, were they held accountable?

  27. Downfall

    You would also think his wife would have said bad idea. Look at the “values” these parents are teaching their children.

    1. Chipper

      This is an example of the me generations teachings and why the next generation is becoming thoughtless and without consideration of others.

      1. Robert Pulliam

        Amen, my exact thoughts. An example needs to be made of these two ME generation “people”. Maybe the fine and jail time would give them time to think of other people besides themselves.

  28. Kevin Hogle

    I’m always surprised to see vandalism like this. You would think somewhere along the way, ones mother or father would have talked about ruining our landmarks. Or you just figured it out on your own not to do it. I doubt the results would be the same if he hadn’t been caught.

    1. PA Hoyland

      With a business like that the $100,000. Fine would be fitting

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