Out Back: Utah Valley Instagrammer Matt Galland shares glimpses of the great Utah outdoors


Matt Galland posted this picture on after running into this Cougar on a hike. (Photo by Matt Galland)

The vast interior of Australia is known as the original outback, but Utah Valley has its own remote areas of wonder and excitement. Unique to us, however is that our remote areas are literally “out back.”

Utah Valley Instagram star Matt Galland shared some of his “out back” experiences with us and on Instagram.

How were you introduced to the outdoors?

Growing up, my home was right up against Squaw Peak. My room faced east and I had the entire mountain framed within my giant floor-to-ceiling window. By the time I was 6, I was exploring many of its treasures. Thirty years later, I’ve been to just about every region in the world. I’ve run, hiked, skied, paddled, flown, swam, dove, climbed, biked and ballooned thousands of miles over this gorgeous earth. Over the 10 years I’ve been teaching geography at BYU, I’ve been asked many times: “Where is the coolest place you have been to?” It’s always the same answer: “Utah.” My parents’ love for nature and literature were also culprits for my introduction into the outdoors. More than anything, it’s just me. Nature and adventure are what I’m good at, so that’s what I do.

What do you enjoy most about your time outdoors?

Nothing brings me more joy than to see the face of someone who hikes to the top of a mountain for the first time, reaches the summit, looks around, and says, “This is freaking awesome.” Nature is quite unspectacular unless you have someone to enjoy it with.

How much do the outdoors play into your life?

The Utah Valley outdoors are my life. I cover about 3,000 miles a year on my feet here in the valley and mountains, and I’ve been at it fairly solid for 25 years. I’d like to think I’ve seen everything, but you could live here a lifetime and truly never see it all.

Why is Utah Valley a paradise?

First, diversity. Nothing changes up the natural environment quite like altitude. Here, we have a 7,000-foot vertical change between the low valley and high peaks within only a few miles of linear distance. That leads me to my second reason, proximity. All of this natural diversity is literally within a few miles of a massive population.

Matt Galland @matt_galland Provo Age 38 Geography professor/ host of “Matt In the Wild” 19.8 k followers Matt Galland Instagram: @matt_galland City: Provo Age: 38 Geography professor/host of “Matt In the Wild” Followers: 19.8 k

Matt Galland
Instagram: @matt_galland
City: Provo
Age: 38
Geography professor/host of “Matt In the Wild”
Followers: 19.8 k

Favorite local spot?

Mount Timpanogos. It’s diverse, it’s huge, and it gives sanctuary to a ton of wildlife. The front side of the mountain is night and day difference from her back side, which is filled with endless wildflowers, snow, mountain goats, waterfalls, lakes and glacially carved geology, while the front is filled with miles of inviting foothills then backed with a near vertical face with gorgeous blue limestone.

Why did you start an Instagram account?

Let your light so shine — cheesy, but it’s true. I’m a sucker for a gorgeous picture and I’m pretty good at taking them. I have no formal training in photography but I have a knack for it and Instagram is the perfect platform.

What makes a great account?

First, passion. The more you really love what you share the more it will show. Second, quality over quantity. Pick one or two of your best pics and people will assume your other 10,000 from that day are just as good. Third, words matter (as my mother would say). A short sentence or two that sing in melody with your masterpiece are likely to have a synergistic effect on your audience. Fourth, consistency. People seem to come back for more if they know what they are going to get and that they’ll get something new each day.

What have you learned sharing your exploits?

Most people are nice, a few are mean. But if you share a positive message you have a good chance at reaping positivity in return. It was my social media exploits that got me a job doing my own show with “Animal Planet” and Discovery Channel. It can be scary sometimes to put your passions out there for people to see, but if what you have to share is positive and uplifting the fruits return in like manner.

How much time do you spend on Instagram?

I wake up and look at Instagram. I spend the day living my life. I post a pic or two most days before I go to bed. I’d say I spend 30 minutes a day. I only require two people to “like” each and every one of my pictures: My wife and my mother. Beyond that, it’s just frosting on the cake.

Greg Bennett

Greg Bennett is an editor and writer with Bennett Communications. His primary responsibilities are with Utah Valley Magazine and the company's custom publications division. He's the father of four children and has been married to his wife, Adria, for 19 years. Contact Greg at greg.utahvalley360@gmail.com.

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