A 1-ton black boulder streaked with white quartz running through it has become a local favorite to Arizonans frequenting the Prescott National Forest. Nicknamed the “Wizard Rock,” the massive rock sparked international interest after it mysteriously disappeared a few weeks ago – and then reappeared just as enigmatically.
“It’s unfortunate when we lose a treasure such as the Wizard Rock. Our hope is that it will be returned to us, and these recent recurring events will become an educational opportunity" said Sarah Clawson, district ranger for the Bradshaw Ranger District, at the time in a statement. “These boulders belong to the public, and should be enjoyed by locals and visitors for years to come.”
On the morning of November 1, a forest employee was patrolling a region known as the Prescott Boulder when they realized something particularly mischievous had occurred. That’s right. A car-sized rock vanished without a trace and returned to its original location without so much as a clue as to where it had been.
“We are thrilled the Wizard Rock was returned, and are grateful that whoever took it was conscientious enough to give it back to the public," Clawson noted in a press release. "National Forests provide so many benefits to the American people, and when something like this happens, it highlights the intrinsic value of natural beauty in all its forms.”
In recent months, two individual boulders each weighing between 340 and 900 kilograms (750-2,000 pounds) have been removed from the National Forest by individuals that employees believe are using heavy equipment. US Forest Service Law Enforcement notes that removing minerals from National Forest lands without a permit is illegal and can result in a maximum fine of $5,000 or six months in jail, or both.
“These boulders belong to the public and should be enjoyed by locals and visitors for years to come. If members of the public have questions about what they can take or purchase from the Prescott National Forest, or how to obtain legal authorization to do so, they should contact any of our offices for information,” said Clawson.
Apparently, it’s not the first time a boulder has gone missing and been returned shortly afterward. In 2009, a 35-kilogram (80-pound) heart-shaped rock similarly went missing for a short amount of time before an anonymous person returned it after realizing its importance to the local community. As for Wizard Rock, officials are still unsure about who took the rock or why they might have done it. Regardless, Clawson says that staff are thrilled the Wizard Rock was returned.
Forest personnel is currently deciding whether to move the Wizard Rock to a new location.