Moab residents among winners in Utah Wilderness 50 photo contest

Images from five Moab-based photographers are among the winners of the Utah Wilderness 50 photography contest sponsored by the Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center.

The exhibition, which opened in September, includes 50 compelling images of Utah’s public lands that were selected through a juried process from more than 1,400 entries, according to a news release from the museum. The exhibit also forms part of a larger national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The act created a way for Congress and Americans to designate “wilderness areas,” which represent the nation’s highest form of land protection.

“The museum saw the Utah Wilderness 50 photo contest and exhibit as an excellent opportunity to capture the natural beauty of the state and engage with artists visiting its diverse national forests, national parks and monuments, national wildlife refuges and [Bureau of Land Management] public lands,” the news release stated.

Winners of the photo contest came from across the western region of the United States, spanning from California, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Moab residents Bruce Hucko, Dan Norris, Bill Rau, Brett Edge and Deborah Shank all had entries selected among the winning 50 photographs that are displayed to portray the natural beauty and exotic scenery of Utah’s wild lands, museum officials said.

“We’re celebrating wild land and the natural beauty of Utah,” said Becky Menlove, associate director for visitor services at the museum. “The exhibit features very diverse photos – from people, to animals, to landscapes, to rainbows and sunsets. I think it’s a great reminder for people to get out there and enjoy all that Utah has to offer – we live in a beautiful place.”

The five Moab photographers covered a large range of Utah’s public lands, including Hucko’s gripping view of Mill Creek Canyon in Moab, Norris’ sunrise in Canyonlands National Park, Rau’s “Storm’s Light” on BLM land near the Book Cliffs, Edge’s bird’s eye view of Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Shank’s foggy view of the Windows section in Arches National Park.

“The Book Cliffs region holds a special magic for me. It feels like really wild land. The hills, washes, surrounding cliffs and canyons convey nuances I find fascinating during every visit,” Rau said when describing how he captured his “Storm’s Light” image.

The museum worked with Jeff Clay, Utah Wilderness 50 state team coordinator, to develop the contest and judging team. The winning photographs were chosen by a select group of photographers and writers who are internationally recognized and have spent most of their lives shooting natural landscapes, according to the news release.

Utah-based judges Rosalie Winard, Stephen Trimble, Tom Till and James Kay were directed to select photos that moved them and were well composed. All levels of photographers were invited to participate, with some winning photos even taken from cell phones, museum officials said.

The Utah Wilderness 50 photo exhibition will run through Dec. 14. There will be an array of special activities and programming designed around the exhibit, according to the news release.

For more information about museum admission and the Utah Wilderness 50 exhibit, visit