A connection with an environment can be made through iconic locations, whether they are in the city center or out in the wilderness. It comes as no surprise to anyone that Utah Valley is full of these iconic and magical places that will ignite the child in everyone. This wonder, I think, is there to inspire us to find our own personal "iconic" places and to develop a sense of stewardship and responsibility to preserve these wonderful places.
I've always loved the outdoors and as a landscape photographer I have been fortunate enough to capture some of Utah County's most iconic locations. I find all of these places to be an extension of my home, and they each mean something to me in different ways.
I will always remember the time my dad and I went on an introductory mountaineering adventure while Mount Timpanogos was still covered in snow. We were both interested in mountaineering and wanted to learn more.
When we had done our research and gotten the proper gear, we planned a day and set off to the summit. It was fascinating to see a landscape I was familiar with during summer covered in snow. This emphasized the already sheer cliffs surrounding the higher basin.
Tibble Fork Reservoir
The weather is what makes Tibble Fork Reservoir so special to me. My favorite time to be at Tibble Fork is during a thunderstorm, blizzard, downpour, etc. There is such a strong energy associated with the storms that makes the air and everything around feel alive.
This is usually the only time I get the whole place to myself since most people don't like to be rained on or cold. I find it exhilarating. The experience of being in the front row and watching the elements at work has been profound and inspiring to me as an artist and a photographer.
Sundance Mountain Resort
Sundance Mountain Resort is where I learned to snowboard, ski, and mountain bike, but it means so much more to me than the easy access it provides to outdoor adventure. During my photography and social media internship with Sundance in 2019-2020, I became more acquainted with the resort's unique atmosphere and activities they offer.
Aside from the outdoor aspect, one of my favorite things about Sundance is its focus on art and culture. I cannot count the number of times I wandered into their Art Studio, admiring the featured artist's work.
Their attention to detail coupled with their stories behind each piece would captivate me. Whenever a featured artist changed, I made it a point to visit the Art Studio at the start of my shift. Needless to say, I was never disappointed.
As a child, I had an uncle who lived just a mile from Stewart Falls above Sundance. Every time we visited him, we would always take the short hike to the falls. In my memory, the valley looked so rugged and wild at the time. If my family had let me, I would have stayed there for hours.
Flash forward to recent times, Stewart Falls via Aspen Grove is a trail that I have worked on numerous times while in the Forest Service. I feel like I know it like the back of my hand, from every bend it makes to the plants that line the trail. The views of the falls and the valley are amazing no matter how many times I visit.
Out of all the trails in Utah Valley, I have hiked the Grotto trail the most. For that, I have the Forest Service to thank, since I was on the Trails and Wilderness crew every summer, and there was always some repair or reinforcement needed on that trail during spring runoff. One day I think I hiked it roughly six times because we had to haul tools and materials back and forth.
Downtown Provo holds a lot of memories for me. It’s where my wife and I had our second date. It involved walking from block to block while eating edible cookie dough. Apart from being so excited to be on another date with that cute redhead, I don't remember much about the walk itself.
Downtown Provo is still a top spot for date nights for us. The number of incredible restaurants and desert shops is mind blowing. Our current favorites are, Backdoor Burger, Station 22, and Rockwell Ice-cream.
I also got into street photography and found out that the city has a lot to offer a landscape and adventure photographer like myself. The old buildings and its rich culture in downtown Provo continue to stimulate my thoughts and challenge me.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls brings back childhood memories for me. I was born and raised in Wyoming, and every summer my parents and I would drive to Utah to visit family. I always knew we were getting close when I would look out the window and see Bridal Veil Falls cascading down the cliffs.
As soon as I spotted the falls, I would quickly look for the gondola line that lead to the restaurant up on the cliff. I remember thinking how cool it would be to eat at that restaurant. Sadly, it wasn't in business at the time, and a few years later, it and the gondola were disassembled. Even to this day when I pass Bridal Veil Falls, I think of that restaurant and the anticipation of seeing family.
My first time floating on the Provo River was for a kayaking class in college. Every week we would take short kayak tours, and one of the weeks we paddled along the Provo River near Utah Lake. At that time the river was calm, and the surface appeared to be glassy and smooth. I felt peace along the river as we paddled under the canopy of cottonwoods and willows.
Since that day, I have explored the Provo river countless times. Not only down in the valley, but in Provo canyon, and even up near its head waters in the Uintah Mountains. The beauty and tranquility of that river amaze me every time I see it.
Among all the places mentioned in this article, Utah Lake is at the top of my list. I've spent countless evenings and nights there when I began learning about photography. It’s where I would go after a break-up or rough day at work, its where I would go to unwind from homework, or when I just needed some time away from technology.
Utah Lake has an interesting history but has improved over the years. Some of the members of our community have a fierce love for this lake and are continually protecting, preserving and enhancing the lake for others to enjoy. For more information on how to be a part of this change please visit the Utah Lake Commission. The lake means a lot to me, and I have made it a goal to help clean it up and restore it back to full health.
Cascade Springs via the Alpine Loop had always been a cool place, but lately it has taken on a more special note in my life. It is the first hike my wife and I took our son on, since it is family friendly and easy to navigate.
It was my way of sharing nature with him, while he was too young to really even hold his head up on his own (AKA the potato stage). Which means a lot to me, since nature and the outdoors is a big aspect of my life and I hope to share as much of it with my children as possible.
Also check out The Best Utah Valley Locations For Landscape Photography Shots and 50 Engagement Photoshoot Locations in Utah Valley.