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Authorities seek suspects who damaged rocks believed to be 140M years old at Lake Mead

Updated April 15, 2024 - 6:36 pm

A viral video shows two men pushing several red stone boulders off a cliff at Lake Mead National Recreation Area last week.

A young girl screams during the video while standing just a few feet behind the men on a cliff as they push the boulders down a steep slope of stacked boulders at Redstone Dunes Trail.

The Lake Mead Recreation Area website notes that the boulders and formations found at the dunes are millions of years old.

“The dunes responsible for these formations existed one hundred forty million years ago,” the website explains. “Over time, geological forces turned the loose dunes into hard sandstone. The fiery eroded formations on this trail were once part of a vast desert landscape.”

Learning of the incident and seeing the video Thursday left Lake Mead public information officer John Haynes upset and revulsed by the action.

“I got sick to my stomach; it was so disgusting,” he said of the incident, which authorities believe occurred on April 7. “That place just happens to be my favorite spot in the park. It’s so unique.”

The easy-to-hike trail is off Northshore Road in the Overton Arm portion of the lake a few miles southwest of Echo Bay.

The thought of people pushing small boulders down a cliff has Haynes scratching his head.

“That’s the big mystery for me,” he said. “I can’t imagine why anybody would do this. These sandstone formations take millions of years to form, and a couple of yahoos show up and destroy them in a few minutes.”

Federal law enforcement officials seek the public’s help in finding the men involved.

If caught and prosecuted, the penalty could be hefty fines and six months in jail, up to felony charges and potentially prison time, Haynes said, adding it all depends on how officials gauge the impact of the damage.

With the park covering 1.5 million acres, including two large lakes, it’s impossible for Lake Mead rangers to see everything.

Haynes suggests that people who witness destructive activity take videos or pictures and inform park officials. He also noted that there’s no need to risk a confrontation.

The National Park Service hotline is 888-653-0009. Email can be sent to nps_isb@nps.gov or online at go.nps.gov/SubmitATip.

Similar fiery sandstone formations are found at Bowl of Fire at Lake Mead and parts of Valley of Fire State Park.

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Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com.

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