It’s become so easy to explore the great outdoors in recent years with apps like Instagram giving us access to, what used to be the great unknown, at our fingertips. So many of my hikes and trips start with a picture I see while scrolling through my feed. However, geotagging has also created an influx of visitors to many beautiful areas. If you’ve ever tried to photograph somewhere like Delicate Arch or Lake Louise, you know just how crazy some of these spots can get.
I was torn on the geotagging debate until I stumbled upon an incredibly special place last summer. Seemingly out of nowhere, appear these amazing hoodoos. Their colors range from snow white, to bubblegum pink, to sunset orange. The soft clay crumbled beneath my fingers when I reached out to touch it. It was deserted, which for such an incredible natural place, is rare.
I knew if the beautiful hoodoos picked up momentum on Instagram, people would flock there. It’s relatively easy to get to and the photo opportunities are endless. I also knew that the county didn’t have the resources to properly manage the area. An influx of people would seriously hurt the delicate formations and might result in it being closed to the public altogether.
When I posted pictures from that day, I didn’t geo-tag.
I’m a firm believer that getting people to fall in love with natural places is the best way to protect them, but as with anything, there has to be balance.
Inspiring people to get outside is my mission and I believe that everybody should get to experience the amazing things our wild world has to offer. I’m a firm believer that getting people to fall in love with natural places is the best way to protect them, but as with anything, there has to be balance.
Over-loving is a real issue many of our public lands face. Whether it’s crumbling clay like my hoodoos or trails that turn into highways with so many feet trampling them, there are places that are just not equipped for the kind of traffic that an online audience of nature-lovers would draw.
I’d challenge you to use discretion with geotags. How popular is the place you’re visiting? How big is your audience? Can the location handle an influx of traffic? If it gets more popular, are there resources to support? When in doubt, I always leave the geotag off. You’ll get comments and DM’s and sometimes you might have to delete the location out of your comments, but as nature lovers, it’s our job to protect the wild places we love to play in. Sometimes that means introducing people to them and sometimes that means leaving them a secret.
After all, half the fun lies in stumbling upon the unknown.
This blog was thoughtfully written by Mikaela Ruland. You can find her on Instagram @airundermyheels.
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