2023 July – August

Every Year the Editors here at Salt Lake magazine look far and wide for worthy subjects for our Best of the Beehive edition. This year, we literally let Utah be our guide. Utah is “The Best” at a lot of things. We’re the best at being happy, we’re the best at having kids (duh), we’re the best at starting businesses, the best at geeking out, the best at playing outside, and notably, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked us as the Best State. Period. (Based on high scores in the ranking’s categories of “Economics” and “Financial Stability.”

For those of us who love this place, none of this comes as a surprise. This year’s Best of the Beehive drills down into these unsurprising accolades and finds laudable examples of arts and culture, outdoor adventures, unique makers and businesses and introduces you to the people who make all this great stuff happen. 

For example, while we were gathering all these nifty things together, I got a chance to meet Leo Thomas or, as his listeners know him, “Skywatcher Leo T.” Leo hosts an eponymous podcast and a regular radio program—broadcast statewide KRCL, KZMU and UPR—in which he shares his passion for the stars above. Utah is in fact one of the best states for Dark Sky areas and stargazing. And Leo loves to talk about it.

“I grew up grew up in Wyoming and would sleep out under the dark skies,” he says. Leo eventually became a National Park Ranger at Capitol Reef and led star-watching tours and events for visitors. “I was the ‘Dark Sky’ guy down there,” he says. “That led me to KRCL where (producer) Lara Jones helped me figure out this whole radio thing.” 

One of the best parts of this job is meeting people like Leo, who turn a childhood fascination into an evangelical mission to educate and enlighten. Although he started out in Wyoming, he’s a quintessential Utahn. (He, at one point, ran the Laser Floyd show at the Hansen Planetarium, how Utah is that?) He’s just one example of the people who give us context and spread joy. This issue is filled with many more people who make Utah “The Best.” I can’t wait for you to meet them.