Open Letter To Utah: Thank You For Having Us

The GearJunkie crew returns from Utah this week after attending Outdoor Retailer. It’s the trade show’s last hurrah here. We could not have asked for a better host.

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Photo by SoloTravelGoals

“Whatever you do, don’t swim in the lake.” The old man piloting a groaning airport shuttle to the Salt Lake City Holiday Inn chuckled at me after imparting this lone nugget of local wisdom.

His cryptic response followed my asking what a first-timer in Utah should do. What he didn’t need to say was that Utah is among the wildest, quietly beautiful states in the country.

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The GearJunkie team has spent countless days in the Beehive State over the past decades. And we love it. The people and landscapes of this outdoors wonderland have captivated us. We will miss our bi-annual Outdoor Retailer pilgrimage.

Utah Adventures, Not Lacking

Though our treks to Utah have helped us publish stories, they’ve also helped us become better adventurers and happier people.

There was the time we visited a “private tropical-fish preserve” off an empty road at 4,293 feet in a valley about 10 miles south of the Great Salt Lake.

Primal Quest Utah, in 2006, brought us across the state. For 10 days, we trekked across hard-packed deserts, kayaked long legs on the Green and Colorado Rivers, climbed peaks, navigated wilderness, and tried our hand at the strange sport of river-boarding.

Canyoneering Grand Staircase-Escalante. House-boat excursions on Lake Mead. Climbing Maple Canyon. We even took aim at (and won) a trap-shooting competition at the Ma ‘n Pa, Magna Gun Club.

adam-and-jake
GearJunkie editors savoring the sweet taste of success

Oh, and the skiing. Alta, Snowbird, Park City, Powder Mountain, Brighton, Snowbasin… where do we begin? Not to mention the backcountry. Deep, airy snow is the siren song of Utah when winter comes.

We arrive, then we often don’t want to leave.

Thank You, Utah

The outdoors industry’s love of Utah has less to do with the pomp and circumstance of brand exhibitions or the glamor of shiny new gear. The real draw of the Union’s 45th state is seen in its red deserts, rugged peaks, canyons, rivers, and forests. And, yes, one big salty lake.

But more than the environment, the people who live in Utah have cemented its place in our heart. They welcomed us (and the snarling traffic jams we caused) year after year with open arms. They’ve given us rides, offered advice, and fed us delicious meals peppered with fascinating discussions.

You’ve left us wanting to return for more every time we depart. Thank you.

Utah: Thanks For 22 Years

Whether it’s copious fresh powder under our skis, climbing routes, trails, or singletrack switchbacks, you’ve given us a place to play, explore, and feel wonder.

You’ve been both a backdrop and a centerpiece for a motley collection of like-minded strangers who would rather feel wind than a/c, and prefer trekking poles to highway tarmac.

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For 22 years, you welcomed hundreds of thousands of OR Show types. You hosted retailers, product buyers, media members, and bootstrapping inventors from around the world. You’ve been stormy, balmy, and frigid, and we would have it no other way.

Under the auspices of doing business, we’ve forged friendships, made fools of ourselves, and challenged your streams, slopes, trails, and climes with our many toys.

Each year, you’ve invited us to escape our humming fluorescent offices and traffic-choked cities to instead do what we all do best: Play outside.

For that, and so much more, we thank you. And who knows? Someday we might hop in that briny lake.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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