September 11, 2020
National Public Lands Day is just around the corner on September 26th. We don’t know about you, but National Public Lands Day makes our hearts sing! For many people this year, public lands have been a refuge from the COVID-19 pandemic. For others, traveling to public lands this year felt like a dream. So, because it’s the best time of year to go, we thought we’d celebrate with a focus on Utah’s desert. Specifically, Utah’s desert dwellers that live and breathe all that Utah’s public lands have to offer. It’s our hope that through this list you can either gather some inspiration for your upcoming trip, or live vicariously through those that bring the desert to the palm of your hand when you’re stuck at home.
Chalk-full of writers, photographers, rock climbers, advocates, and even a biologist and a therapist, this list is sure to add some inspiration to your Instagram Feed. But, we also hope that you feel inspired by those on this list to take action in preserving and protecting our public lands - something they are all passionate about. In fact, many of those that grace this list have causes that they’ve either founded or strongly advocate for and we encourage you to check them out!
So, without further adieu, here are 10 Utah desert dwellers you should follow on Instagram:
Brianna Madia is a Utah based “desert dweller” and storyteller. Madia travels throughout the Utah desert in her big orange van named “Bertha” along with her three dogs, Bucket, Dagwood, and Birdie. Madia is working on her first book and is passionate about sharing the desert with others. To others the desert is blan and dusty, but to Brianna it is magical and sparkling. She spends her days searching for new desert lands in Utah and places to swim, hike, write, and enjoy life. We love the way Brianna takes us along for adventures down dusty dirt roads and dips in new favorite swimming holes while always keeping it real.
Grizel Caminas is a Lantinx backpacker based in Utah. Raised in Miami, she is a therapist that has taken her practice into the desert. She received her masters in Psychology and practiced as a therapist for three years before she decided to move to the desert and spend her days living in a van with her fiance and beloved dog, Rue. What she’s most passionate about is normalizing mental health issues and she shares valuable mental health resources on her website. Throughout her time hiking and exploring the deserts of Utah, at first all alone, she learned this, “When we are stripped to what is absolutely necessary instead of focusing on all the distractions that this world provides, we are raw enough to take a look inside to see what is actually happening within. It is messy. It’s difficult. But it’s significant for true belonging and self acceptance.”
Calliway and her van, Sunni, travel throughout Utah deserts taking beautiful pictures and exploring magical places. Calliway inspires others with the spirit of adventure as a whitewater rafting guide. When she's not exploring Utah, she’s traveling around the world to places, like Nepal, Thailand , and Israel. Calliway tells her followers, “See you out there” as she advocates for a life immersed in nature.
Mary Lane is truly “living life elevated” in southwest Utah where she spends her time in the desert, rock climbing, exploring, biking, and advocating for the outdoors. Mary is a biologist and an ambassador for Accessfund (a non profit committed to protecting America’s climbing) and Dirt Chalk Bags (a homemade, artistic designed, eco-friendly climbing goods company). Mary is joined in the desert by her partner Josh and dog, Mytha (follow her at mytha.the.muffin). Mary’s number one passion is rock climbing and she loves to share it with whoever she can.
Johnny Aldolphson is a Utah based photographer who has gained a following because of his stunning unique shots. He is also a skier, a climber, a husband, and a father of two boys. He resides in Heber City, Utah and finds himself traveling into the desert almost daily to capture its beauty. Before Johnny went full-time behind the lens as a landscape and active lifestyle photographer, he was a ski guide, a ski patroller, a wildland firefighter, gardener, helicopter logger, and a forestry worker. He’s grateful to live in Utah “where the mountains meet the desert,” describing photography as “the medium I choose to share my experience and the beauty of the world as I see it.” Our suggestion: Let him take you there.
Katie Bouė is a Cuban-American outdoor advocate, writer, speaker, and community marketing strategist. Katie is the founder of Outdoor Advocacy, “a movement of ‘outdoorsy humans doing good’.” Katie resides at an urban homestead in Utah where she lives with her partner, Brody and dog, Spaghetti. She is passionate about fighting for nature and has helped organizations like the Outdoor Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association, and American Alpine Club. She is committed to sharing the beauty of nature with her followers and teaching them how to love the earth. There’s nothing we love more than outdoor “xploration” with a purpose.
Zenobia is an African-American Climber based in Moab, Utah. She grew up in a military family and attended college in southern Colorado where she ran track. She recently made the decision to move from Arizona to Moab, because she heard the climbing in Moab was unimaginable. It didn’t disappoint. When she’s not climbing, she’s been working at a high ropes course and whitewater rafting company with the goal of getting people to face their fears and get outdoors. Zenobia said “Having opportunities to guide made me realize that so many people don't get a moment to just be outdoors or they don’t know how.” Zenobia is happy to have the opportunity to be a facilitator and a helping hand to get people outdoors.
Dynamic desert duo, Abbi and Callen Hearne are a married couple proud parents to their beloved dog Charlie. They are a self-described as an “adventure photography team” who reside half of the year in Moab, Utah and the other half traveling across deserts and mountains in their “big gray monster truck.” They are passionate about capturing adventurous weddings and elopements in epic places and have built their lives around all-things adventure. They try to live from their spirit of adventure every day. Abbi and Callen believe “the best way to serve you is to go beyond the beautiful photographs and give you a meaningful experience.” Follow them for exactly that.
Laura is a part-time traveler and full-time creative. She is a writer, photographer, host and co-producer of the “Woman On The Road” podcast, and co-founder of Ravel Media. When she isn’t traveling through the desert in her “self-converted” camper van she happily resides in Moab, Utah. In her own words what she cares about is simple: “Elevating stories with heart, exploring dusty trails, and enjoying a good cup of tea.” Laura cares deeply about her craft and she really cares about the art of listening, because as she says “everyone just wants to be seen and heard.” She is on a quest to see and hear them and share her findings with the world. Following Laura is a day-brightener.
Summer Rae is a Salt Lake City based lifestyle and wedding photographer. She is a self proclaimed sun seeker, a wife, and a dog lover. She is passionate about natural living, foster care, and real raw relationships. She travels alongside her husband who is a videographer. Summer says, “I love capturing the pure love...the real love…the authentic love that you and your soulmate have.” With many couples having to re-think their 2020 wedding plans, Summer’s work is fun to follow and see how Utah’s public lands have been used to celebrate love.
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