By now you’ve probably read about the battle being fought between the outdoor industry and the state of Utah over the privatization of public lands. Ground zero for that battle is Bears Ears National Monument, and the company leading the vanguard is Patagonia. Patagonia knows you’ve already heard about this issue; now it wants you to see.
The brand’s latest tack is a comprehensive, serialized virtual reality experience powered by Google (FYI, you don’t need a headset to view; it works fine on a computer). The suite of videos is divided into three segmented chapters: Culture, Sport and Take Action. You can view petroglyphs while an archaeologist explains their significance (did you know the Anasazi depicted flutes as male-gendered tools of fertility?), explore Pueblo cliff dwellings Street View–style and learn the story of Posey’s flight from a Mormon posse. After that, you may find yourself perched atop a stone pillar called North Six Shooter with Tommy Caldwell, bikepacking through dry creek beds with Andrew Burr and Steve Fassbinder, or wedged in a true sandstone splitter with Kitty Calhoun — all without aching forearms or sore quads.
Part three, Take Action, lets you call or tweet at Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Patagonia’s mission here is clear: showcase the region’s history and natural beauty and garner far-reaching public support. You may never visit this area or do any of these things, but after viewing just a few of the clips in this comprehensive VR experience, it’s hard not to appreciate the landscape that’s at risk.