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SALT LAKE CITY — The Beehive State has long been lauded as a top destination for its outdoor opportunities and surreal natural beauty.
Earlier this month, seven photographs that encapsulate Utah's best features rose above a field of more than 700 to win the first annual Scenic Utah Photo Contest.
Scenic Utah, a statewide nonprofit advocating for the protection of the state's scenic resources, launched the contest to celebrate Utah's "natural beauty, its historic rural character and our unparalleled – and increasingly threatened – scenic vistas and skylines," a release from the organization said.
The photo contest featured 734 submissions, all gunning for a top spot in one of the seven available photo categories:
- Off the Beaten Path
- Scenic Night Skies
- My Rural Roots
- Town, City and State Parks
- Visual Pollution We Wish Would Go Away
- Community Character
- Audience Favorite
"These winning images highlight Utah's extraordinary scenic resources and the importance of protecting them," said Ralph Becker, former Salt Lake City mayor and chairman of the board at Scenic Utah.
Below are the winners from each category of the contest.
Off the Beaten Path
This category features pictures from "remote or hard-to-reach places in our beautiful state," according to Scenic Utah's website.
"We know and love Delicate Arch, but we're looking for the lesser known."
This picture — titled "Ostler Lake" by Spencer Sullivan — is certainly off the beaten path, as Ostler Lake is only accessible by backpacking into the Uintas.
Scenic Night Skies
Scenic Night Skies is the category for "astrophotography of all types," according to Scenic Utah, which continued, "Long exposures or quick shots of the stars with captivating silhouettes — and everything in between."
One could say that the stars aligned for "Magic Bus," Dave Koch's incredible shot of a starry night that many Utahns have come to admire.
My Rural Roots
While Silicon Slopes and the Salt Lake Valley explode, Utahns can still take solace in the more rural, wild parts of the state.
Hans Christian Ettengruber perfectly captured the essence of the rural category in "Barn with Yellow Flowers," which could make the most seasoned city-dweller daydream about spending a day in the yellow meadows surrounding the barn.
Town, City and State Parks
This category takes us all the way down to Sand Hollow State Park in Washington County, just north of the Arizona border.
Nathan Hansons's shot, "Rainbow in Sand Hollow," also paints a picture of how quickly the weather can change in the desert.
Visual Pollution We Wish Would Go Away
With the rapidly growing nature of the state, this category pays homage to the visual impediments that Utahns are seeing more of these days.
"High Power Interference," by Steve Wise, perfectly depicts the juxtaposition of Utah's development industry and scenic beauty.
From Cache Valley to the red desert of southern Utah, the Beehive State is full of communities overflowing with character.
Kirk Anderson's "Westside Sign" looks like something out of an old western movie and creatively showcases the character found throughout Utah.
Of course, the people of Utah should also have a say in what they deem their favorite photograph.
When it came down to it, Utahns decided on Shauna Hart's "The Boys are Back."
The dramatic image showcases the wild nature of the state that is admired by so many.