Friday, September 24, 2021
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Getaway: Island In the Sky

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Whale Rock at Island in the Sky in Canyonlands

The largest of the Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah, Canyonlands covers 337,598 acres with a hit parade of features that make Southern Utah distinct. The park is divided by the Colorado and Green Rivers into three distinct districts: Island in the Sky, Needles and the Maze. Author Edward Abbey, a park ranger in Arches National Monument and a frequent visitor to Canyonlands described the park as “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere.” It definitely lives up to his description.

Rising into the sky then falling dramatically 2,000 feet to the confluence of the rivers below, you do indeed look down upon birds on the wing.

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Shafer Trail switchbacks

The Island district is the most accessible with multiple short hikes, myriad dramatic vistas, many turnouts and miles of paved road. There are few visitor facilities but many opportunities for solitude as only 500,000 people visit this park each year. With 1/5 the visitors of Zion National Park, you can be sure of some space and peace. Willow Flat is the lone campground here, with a mere 12 spaces.

Many short hikes get you out of the car, into the elements and lead to views of untamed land disappearing on the horizon. Mesa Arch, a portal clinging to the cliff edge and framing the La Sal Mountains, is a favorite spot for sunrise photos, a half-mile hike with huge pay off. Whale Rock is fun to climb, your sneakers clinging to the steep sides of the sandstone monolith. Grand View Point Trail leads to the very tip of the Island, an easy walk to the edge of the mesa.

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Mesa Arch 

The Green River overlook allows glimpses of eons old goosenecks, giant bends in the river exposing rock bands resembling layer cakes. Look carefully and you can spy the White Rim Trail as it hugs the mesa edge. This winding 100-mile track made by Uranium miners in the 1950s is accessed by the Shafer or Mineral Bottom switchbacks, requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a backcountry permit for camping. An unforgettable Jeep drive or supported bike ride, the White Rim Trail brings you into the heart of nowhere, unfolding the hidden, secret heart of wilderness.

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Green River Overlook

Island In the Sky Visitor Center is four hours from Salt Lake and 40 minutes from Moab, a small town that makes a great base for exploring Canyonlands.
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Island in the Sky Visitor Center

Photos in this post by Pippa Keene

One year ago today: Utahns mourn at a vigil for Breonna Taylor. Taylor was shot and killed by a police officer in March 2020, inspiring worldwide protests and calls for racial justice. ...

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Gayle Dowdle as Queen Elizabeth I of England ⁠

@dowdledesign is the queen of renaissance fairs and comic conventions. Dowdle began cosplaying six years ago and has been planning to recreate Queen Elizabeth I ever since. She spent as many as 700 hours constructing the ensemble. She entered her cosplay into the @fanxsaltlake 2019 cosplay contest, winning first prize. Since, she has continued to make upgrades to the royal cosplay she has created. “My dress will never be finished,” she says. 👑⁠

The wig is actually made of Dowdle’s own hair, which she cut off before beginning chemotherapy treatments last year. She says, “When I wear this wig, I don’t feel like Gayle with cancer, I just feel like Gayle again.” ⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠
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Missy Moody as Giselle from "Enchanted"⁠

@madamemoodycosplay has competed on the stage at comic conventions from Salt Lake City to New York in Giselle’s massive wedding gown from Disney’s "Enchanted." The self-taught seamstress has remade the dress five times over the course of four years, eventually wearing it to her very own nuptials. ⁠✨⁠

While Moody’s Giselle cosplay has been hailed as screen accurate, Moody advises, “Just have fun with cosplay. Don’t worry too much about accuracy. It’s OK to take some shortcuts.”⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠
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Ryan Bielik as Caleb Widogast from "Critical Role"⁠

“It was a demanding mistress,” @moody_kittens says of his Caleb cosplay, his take on a character from the Dungeons & Dragons live-streaming sensation turned multimedia empire "Critical Role." Bielik started cosplaying in 2013 and typically attends three conventions per year. After the pandemic, his Caleb cosplay represents a return to form: an obsessive attention to detail. Bielik plans to publicly debut his Caleb cosplay this year at @fanxsaltlake, where he will also enter the cosplay contest. 🪶

“I wanted something elegant to do—flashy, colorful. Something with a lot of grace in the costume,” says Bielik. ⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle
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Kimber Gabryszak as Brienne of Tarth from "Game of Thrones"⁠

@kimber.and.connie.cosplay sets a high bar for herself. “I love to be as screen-accurate as possible,” she says. Gabryszak has always loved costuming, “I was cosplaying before I realized what cosplaying was.” But she did not attend her first comic convention until 2015. She says, “Brienne is the most ambitious character I have ever cosplayed.” Gabryszak had to learn leatherworking, for example, but by far the most difficult undertaking was constructing the chainmail. ⚔️ ⁠

"I like doing villains or people with a unique appearance who might not be as conventionally pretty,” she says. “Brienne is this tough, badass, giant, imposing woman.”⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle
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IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME!⁠

We're teaming up with @gotbeautydotcom and @goodthingsutah to offer a $150 beauty package. Got Beauty is celebrating 30 years of business locally owned and operated by women. ❤️⁠

Here's how you can win: ⁠
✨ Like this post and tag three friends in the comments.⁠
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Get ready to explore a city of secrets⚡👁️⁠

In a brand new issue of @slmag, we're uncovering the strange, obscure and unexplained stories and lore from Salt Lake City’s history, from a lost Mormon colony to a rampaging royal elephant to a sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith.⁠ Plus, we highlight outdoor gear trailblazers and continue our 2021 Travel Series in the Big Sky State.

Subscribers: look for this issue in your inbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands Sept. 1! 📪⁠
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If you’re wondering if it’s worth the trip to a certified Dark Sky Park to view the Perseids, the short answer is “yes.” The long answer is “heck yes.” 🌠⁠

It's not too late to see the yearly Perseids meteor shower light up the night sky. Learn more at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo: Gates of Lodore in Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal; Credit: @miahwatt courtesy @visitutah
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Trade the snowy mountains for sandy peaks. 🏂⁠

At Idaho's Bruneau Dunes State Park, enormous dunes are the perfect playgrounds for dreamy sunsets, night sky views and a sandboarding adventure.⁠

Check out more of our favorite Idaho destinations at the link in our bio!
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Today is National Watermelon Day! 🍉🍉🍉⁠

Celebrate with easy-to-make watermelon granita, summer's coolest frozen dessert. The full recipe is at the link in our bio!⁠
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It's giveaway time!🐒🍻⁠

We're giving away two tickets to @hoglezoo's Zoo Brew. Visit the zoo's more than 800 animals while sipping a local beer at this 21+ event. ⁠
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Here's how you can win:⁠
🐘 Like this post and tag three of your favorite party animals in the comments.
🐘 Follow both @slmag and @hoglezoo.⁠
🐘 Enter by 9 a.m. Wednesday for a chance to win!⁠

(Tickets are valid for any 2021 Zoo Brew event.)⁠
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