Our Staff

Guided hiking, biking, backpacking trips since 1997Get to Know AOA

AOA has come a long way over the last 20 years. In 1997 we were proud of our three guides and operations throughout Arizona, now Arizona Outback Adventures has grown to over 100 staff and guides offering hiking, backpacking, and cycling trips across the American West.

With a degree in biology from Arizona State University and a few years of guiding experience under his belt, Seth Heald realized he wanted to make a career in exploring and sharing the outdoors with others. The learning curve is steep in every business, but Seth was determined to create a guide company where customer service is top priority and outdoor guides can build a career out of their love of adventure. Through much trial-and-error, persistence, humor, and with deep passion for the outdoors, AOA has grown in many ways, yet still the people, guides, staff and trip guests, are the heart and soul of AOA.

 

Seth Heald – President and CEO

Hometown: Charlottetown Prince Edward Island, Canada

What type of tours do you guide? I have guided them all, but I now navigate more meetings than rivers or canyons.

Hobbies: A lifelong passion for Reptiles and Amphibians, “herps”

Memorable moment from your job: At the request of the Havasupai Tribe I was the first person on the ground to assess the damage to the waterfalls and camping facilities 3 days after the infamous 2008 flood. In addition to the serious work of documenting the damage, it was surreal to be the first to stand at the base of a now dry Navajo Falls and swim/jump in the brand new waterfalls.

 

Our Guides

We take pride in having the best guides in the business. All of our previous clients will tell you our guides enhanced their experience more than they thought possible. We have over 50 experienced guides on staff. All guides must learn our 50 page guide manual, complete a thorough training, all are CPR / First Aid certified and many have advanced training such as Wilderness First Aid, Swift-water Rescue and National Outdoor Leadership School degrees. Multi-day trip leaders are required to maintain valid certification as a Wilderness First Responder. Our guides are teamed to maximize their individual expertise ensuring your every need is satisfied. On a multi-day trip, guides are at your service 24 hours a day for the duration of the trip. They will be eager to answer all questions, solve any problems, and keep your adventure fun and worry-free.

A – F


Chris Anderson, Multi-day Tours Guide Manager

At AOA since: 2011

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

What type of tours do you guide? All multi-day tours

Fun fact: I began my career by teaching outdoor survival and primitive living skills across the West.

What do you love most about guiding? My favorite part of guiding is growing the outdoor community by helping people to become passionate about the areas that I am passionate about.

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Aaron Hidalgo

Guiding since: 1999

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Jaco, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Surfing warm waters, SUP, hiking, birding, mountain biking, cooking, family time with wife and kids, host group travel to Costa Rica with community service projects.

What do you love most about guiding? Being able to expose others to experience nature in an authentic way which creates lifetime memories for both the traveler and me alike.

A memorable moment from your job: One night at Corcovado Lodge in Costa Rica with 35+ travelers having dinner, I received word from our guard that there was a turtle laying eggs in front of the lodge. I let them know of the opportunity of experiencing this, which meant leaving the dinner table and we all went down to the beach. Little did we know it was a massive Leatherback Turtle, a first time for all, including me, and well worth a missed dinner.

 

AJ Baker

Coming Soon!

 

Alex Leckie

Guiding since: 2009

At AOA since: 2009

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Trail and road running, playing with my chocolate lab, Thor.

 

Bethany Addy

Guiding since: 2017

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: I love trail runs and all things outdoors. My wandering soul took me to Asia to explore and teach English. I enjoy a good book and being active. I love learning. I can say the alphabet backwards.

What do you love most about guiding? I am best self when I am outdoors or traveling. There is something about these things that change a person. I adore sharing these moments with other people and seeing them experience the unique and surreal things of nature. I believe people become raw and vulnerable, sharing a part of themselves that they may not usually. I desire these genuine moments and fun in the midst of unfiltered beauty that changes and makes us better.

 

Brandie Rose

Guiding since: 2012

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Flint, MI

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: I want to summit all 53 fourteeners in the Colorado Rockies. I took a solo paragliding flight course in Nepal. I love yoga, kettle corn and sappy movies.

What do you love most about guiding? I believe something neurologically shifts when we remove ourselves from the everyday conventions we place ourselves in – and that when we place ourselves in a new environment we become open to new information. New frames of mind. This, to me, is where possibility lives. I love the ways we innovate our lives when we experience ourselves in a new setting. I believe we connect to a higher version of our mental and emotional state and I love seeing people transform.

A memorable moment from your job: I previously worked in the day-event field and a lot of it had to do with elevating other business owners and fitness instructors by putting them on a platform while I would organize, host and recruit for the event. My favorite event was when we incorporated everything a perfect day at summer camp would be. We called it “Summer Camp”, had a yellow school bus transport a group of 50 adults to the shore of Lake Michigan where we hiked, SUP’d and did yoga. The fitness instructor gained enough momentum from her exposure at our event to achieve her goal of opening her own studio. This is what I LOVE- making connections for others so they can achieve their dreams.

 

Casey High

Guiding since: 2010

At AOA since: 2015

Hometown: Holliday, TX

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours, Grand Canyon, Southern Utah, Havasupai, and everywhere in between!

Hobbies: I love painting portraits and landscapes of hilarious people, and cool places.

What do you love most about guiding? My favorite part about guiding is being able to help others mark things off their bucket lists. It’s really an honor.

A memorable moment from your job: I got to guide a trip that had five little kids from Mexico City on it. Those kids were so much fun to hang out with. We jumped off waterfalls, and hiked all over Supai!

 

Chance Dimeck

Guiding since: A mechanic since 2006

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Chesapeake, VA

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Fun facts: I have been riding dirt bikes since I was 5 years old, I’ve owned over 50 cars, and I have two middle names.

What do you love most about guiding? I love taking people new places that they wouldn’t go on their own and making the experience last a lifetime.

 

Chris Rutz

Guiding since: 2016

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

What type of tours do you guide? All single-day tours!

Hobbies/fun facts: I have lived in Scottsdale since 1995 and have an extensive background in outdoor adventure. I have been a competitive athlete much of my life including road and mountain bike racing, triathlon and most recently a professional obstacle course racer (OCR). When not competing I am exploring the southwest camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing and canyoneering. In 2014 I retired early from a 23-year career in the insurance industry. Outside of guiding I am an OCR coach, steward for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and private adventure guide for my girlfriend and two cats.

What do you love most about guiding? I love introducing first timers to the southwest. For many the southwest is a dream destination that holds great fascination and mystery. My goal as a guide is remove some of that mystery but leave just enough so they want to come back on another adventure.

 

Dan Anderson

Guiding since: 2015

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Motorcycles and 4 x 4 exploring

What do you love most about guiding? I love showing off the desert and changing the believed picture of what a desert should be. Having someone catch the same excitement makes it worth everything.

A memorable moment from your job: I was doing a tour with Pink Jeep and had a very disinterested bachelorette group. Well, after trying to break the ice, they finally took me and the tour serious when I got stuck with a Teddy Bear Cholla. Watching the needles stick shocked them into desert reality. Tour turned out great.

 

Daniel Konves

Coming soon!

 

Cimarron Anderson

Guiding since: 1998

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Austin, MN; but I have spent the last 19 years in Utah, Colorado and Arizona.

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: I’m a yoga instructor and love to greet the rising sun leading an outdoor yoga class.

What do you love most about guiding? I love connecting people with the outdoors. Seeing the inspiring, healing, and empowering feeling people get by spending time in nature. It’s good for the body and soul and I feel brings people back to the important things in life.

A memorable moment from your job: A trip where I had 6 newbie women campers who were very concerned about going to the bathroom outdoors. They pulled me aside from the male guests and we did a detailed impromptu tutorial and technique-sharing crash course on how to ‘pee in the woods’. It was hilarious and quickly broke the ice. Awesome trip!

 

Elaine Stanton

Guiding since: 2016

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Moscow, ID

What type of tours do you usually guide? Single-Day Tours

Hobbies: Mountain biking!

What do you love most about guiding? The people I get to work with, the pride AOA has in the tours we do and being in the great outdoors.

A memorable moment from your job: Rigging and de-rigging every raft AOA owns for large group tours is always a memorable time!

G – L

Gary Elbert

Coming Soon!

 

Izzy Zucker

Guiding since: 2010

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Orinda, CA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day backpacking, hiking and cycling tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Trying to keep up with my dad and dog on the trail, spending time with friends and family, jumping in cold water. Fun fact: this year I got to inflatable kayak the Grand Canyon and run a Rim to Rim to Rim.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Connecting people to nature, each other and themselves.

A memorable moment from your job: The laughter and light of campfires that bring people together.

 

Jen Skubicki

Coming Soon!

 

Jesse Doris

Guiding since: 2017

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: hiking, biking, SUP, kayaking, yoga and dance.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Being around like-minded individuals, getting to live in the most beautiful places in the Southwest, and creating new memories with people!

 

Jimmy Fulmer

Guiding since: 2007 (rowing rafts in the Grand Canyon)

At AOA since: 2011

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours, with an emphasis on Grand Canyon Hiking and Backpacking

Hobbies: I started out as a Fisheries Biologist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which lead me to guiding in Grand Canyon. After seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time on a non-native fish removal trip at 27 years old, I became obsessed with it. When you are from Phoenix and your parents do not take you to the Grand Canyon…I have been going every year since 2006.

What do you love most about guiding? I love building relationships with people that will last a lifetime and also building constituents for preserving and protecting the Grand Canyon and other Parks/Monuments around the country.

A memorable moment from your job: Realizing that you can have a relationship with another individual even though neither of you can speak the each other’s language, but body language and smiling always help bridge language barriers.

 

Jim King

Guiding since: Guided trips back in the 1980s and am glad to be back!

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

What type of tours do you usually guide? Single-day Tours

Hobbies: I’m a corporate business healthcare executive turned outdoor junky. I love hiking, biking, skiing, traveling and people!!

What do you love most about guiding? The privilege of sharing the outdoors with our customers!

 

Joe Gonzalez

Guiding since: 2017

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Livermore, CA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: I know almost every PLU (produce code) from working at Trader Joe’s, I’m a huge NFL/49ers fan, and I once walked from Mexico to Canada.

What do you love most about guiding? I love the thoughtfulness on a personal level that you gain through the adventure travel lifestyle/philosophy.

 

Kale Snider

Guiding since: 2015

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Martial arts, guitar, camping and anything outdoors.

What do you love most about guiding? I love actually wanting to wake up in the morning and go to work, and the impressions you leave with guests.

A memorable moment from your job: Being a zipline guide was a memorable experience in itself, but the tours with kids were the best. Dad’s terrified and their daughters telling them to live their dreams.

 

Karolina Losack

At AOA since: 2014

Hometown: Czech Republic

What type of tours do you usually guide? Single-Day Tours

Hobbies: Rock climbing and spending time with my family

 

 

Katie Honodel

Coming soon!

 

Kathi Reichert

Guiding since: 2013

At AOA since: 2013

Hometown: Canonsburg,  PA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Single-day Tours

Hobbies: mountain biking, hiking, traveling, exploring, trekking, volunteering at the Grand Canyon,  rock climbing, skiing or snowboarding and of course, eating. Fun fact- on a trip in Mongolia I shared a ride to the far reaches of western Mongolia with an eagle for 5 hours. I’m wilderness first responder certified.

 

Kevin Thomas

Guiding since: 2016

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Glencoe, IL

What type of tours do you guide? All sorts of multi-day hiking, backpacking, and adventure trips throughout Arizona and Utah.

Hobbies: I was a theater and film critic before I became a guide, so you might catch me sneaking movies into the backcountry on my phone! I’m also an avid martial artist and history geek.

What do you love most about guiding? The people. I love meeting guests from all over the world, and I learn as much from them as they learn from me. Every group has its own energy.

A memorable moment from your job: Spending an entire hike in Bryce Canyon answering questions about medieval warfare. You never know where conversations in the outdoors will take you!

 

Larry Emmott

Guiding since: 2003

At AOA since: 2010

Hometown: Phoenix, originally from Canada

What type of tours do you guide? Day Tours

What do you love most about guiding? I love helping people learn to ride a mountain bike, watching them gain confidence, and have fun. I also love showing off all the amazing things there are to see in the Sonoran desert.

 

Linda Bruneau

Coming soon!

 

Lucas Fellers

Guiding since: 2016

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Foothill Ranch, CA

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: I am an avid downhill skateboarder. My fastest clocked speed is 53 mph on my longboard. I also enjoy snowboarding in the winter and taking pictures of the beautiful places I have traveled.

What do you love most about guiding? I love giving people an amazing experience that they will remember for the rest of their life. I started loving the outdoors once I visited Yosemite National Park. This trip completely changed my life and set me on a more positive course. Having the opportunity to make a similar change in one of my guests inspires me to work as hard as I can. I strive to make a positive impact on the people around me, and working as a guide is a perfect platform to fulfill this dream.

A memorable moment from your job: My first time leading a group of students through the backcountry of Zion is a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. It was my first opportunity to work as an outdoor educator and share my passion for the outdoors with a large group of people. During this trip the backcountry was completely dry for a 27-mile stretch. All of the springs and rivers had completely dried up, and after a 13 mile hiking day, we were all quite thirsty. The next morning, I hiked off trail to a reservoir located on my map. Luckily we found enough water to finish the trip, being able to cook all of our food and stay hydrated. This experience reminded me how powerful survival instincts can be and how I can overcome huge obstacles in my professional career.

M – R

Matt Cairns

Guiding since: 2014

At AOA since: 2015

Hometown: Dellroy, Ohio

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day hiking and backpacking tours

Hobbies: Being a photographer, rock climber, mountaineer, hitchhiker.

What do you love most about guiding? I love witnessing guests find their confidence.

A memorable moment from your job: A black bear magically appeared in camp one night at the precise moment that I was telling two young guests about how sneaky the bears are. Apparently they understand comedic timing too.

 

Melissa McGinnis

Guiding since: 2014

At AOA since: 2014

Hometown: Madison, WI

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Love hiking/backpacking. Grand Canyon is my favorite place on the planet. I hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in 2010. Certifications- WFR, LNT

 

Meredith Francis

Guiding since: 2008

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Dallas, TX

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: During my semester at NOLS, I built and lived in a Quigloo (quinzhee & igloo hybrid snow shelter) for 3 weeks in the Grand Teton backcountry. I am a 9th generation Texan and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Mostly, I love watching never-been-camping families show up to a trip a little apprehensive and nervous, and see the utter joy a week outdoors of hiking and camping gives them.  That to me is the reason I guide.

A memorable moment from your job: Bryce canyon sunrise. Everytime.

 

Michael Collins

Guiding since: 2017

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Hatfield, PA

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Fly fishing, skiing and hiking.

What do you love most about guiding? Living your life in someone’s vacation is hard to appreciate until you have stepped away. What I’ve enjoyed most is making that time special and being part of the memories.

A memorable moment from your job: The memorable moments for me are when you get to the top or the destination of a hike and really no matter how many times you have been there it is always a special memory.

 

Michael Guidone

Guiding since: 2013

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Single-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Construction/remodeling, mountain bike racing, trail running

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Being outdoors, meeting new people, showing others the outdoors

 

Nick Pacini

At AOA since: 2014

Hometown: Ukiah, CA (where the wine country meets the Redwoods)

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: When I’m not guiding, you can find me watching Giants baseball, experimenting with a new recipe, enjoying a craft IPA, or exploring the southwest (typically with a backpack on) with my wife and two dogs.

What do you love most about guiding? Sharing my knowledge and deep appreciation for public lands with all of my guests.

 

Nikki Thompson

Coming soon!

 

Phil Richards

Coming soon!

 

Rex Anderson

Coming soon!

 

Ryan Panasy

Guiding since: 2017

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Barrington, IL

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Rock climbing, skiing, road cycling

What do you love most about guiding? Extreme picnicking, eating everyday food in beautiful places.

S – Z

Sam Fawkes

Guiding since: 2012

At AOA since: 2015

Hometown: Wheaton, IL

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day tours, Backpacking and hiking trips

Hobbies/fun facts: I love basketball, snowboarding, working out, mountain biking, watching movies, and good BBQ. Certified personal trainer. Worked for Gatorade and as a clinical test athlete.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? What I love most about guiding is getting away from it all, unplugging and not having to deal with hectic society. Life is simple in the backcountry and it shows you what you really need to live and what really matters.

 

Steve Sproviero

Guiding since: 2011

At AOA since: 2011

Hometown: Grew up in New England, lived in Princeton, NJ. Started, built & sold a Market Research & Business Services firm. Currently spend September through Mid-May in Arizona and Mid-May until early September on the Jersey Shore.

What type of tours do you usually guide? Single-day tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Nickname is “SPRO”.  I enjoy Hiking, Water Sports, Golf, wood working, Home improvement projects. Fun things – Hiked through Peru, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Completed six marathons. Married for over 40 years – two daughters – two son in-laws – two grand kids.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I really enjoy the interaction with the guests. Especially when they are so excited about the areas that we take them to. so many people don’t realize that AZ is so green, has such a wonderful topography, and great temperatures.

A memorable moment from your job: I was scheduled to take out five ( 5 ) guests on a dawn hike. When I picked them up I noticed that they were all very physically fit. As a explained the plan for hiking a trail they mentioned that they were all trail-runners. Luckily I trail run – so quick regroup and off we went. It was a tough morning – at least for me.

 

Stephanie Warner

Guiding since: 2009

At AOA since: 2015

Hometown: Lancaster, OH

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day tours and the occasional day tour

Hobbies/fun facts: Served in the US Peace Corps. Loves exercise, fitness and health, rock climbs and practices yoga

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I love that I get to work in the beautiful outdoors and share that love with others. I love helping people to step outside of their comfort zone, challenge themselves a little bit and inspire them to continue to play in beauty of the world around us. I love that I get to meet people from all walks of life and share a unique experience with each and every one of them.

A memorable moment from your job: My first time taking a group up Angel’s Landing is a memory I will always cherish. The group pushed themselves to do something phenomenal. The awe and pure joy and sense of accomplishment on each and everyone of their faces when we had made it to the top is something I will always cherish. The bonding and teamwork that took place as the group worked together to get up and down the path safely was incredible. It was an amazing experience and to know I laid a hand on helping this group achieve it reinforces why I am a guide.

 

Tania De La Cruz

Coming soon!

 

Terrence Walsh

Guiding since: 2016

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Washington, IA

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies/fun facts: In August 2015 I started walking the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia through the winter. I didn’t meet many people along the way, but those who I did meet, I consider some of my best friends, and I remain closely in touch with them. I wrote in a journal everyday of the journey and continue to do so everyday that passes. I aspire to write a book, and have recently started along that journey. I enjoy motorcycling on my 1993 Yamaha Virago XV535, and swapping books with friends, but not at the same time.

 

Tim Dice

Coming soon!

 

Tim Gokey

Guiding since: 2017

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Washington, IA

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Cooking, playing the drums, mycology, yoga, biking, hiking with my dog and beatboxing.

What do you love most about guiding? I love that I get to experience the beautiful outdoors of Arizona and other areas. I also love the different people I get to experience those places with.

 

Todd Frein

Coming soon!

 

Tyler Gates

Guiding since: 2012

At AOA since: 2014

Hometown: My Van, USA

What type of tours do you usually guide? All multi-day tours, specializing in backpacking and cycling trips.

Hobbies/fun facts: I grew up in New Jersey, so my first language is actually sarcasm.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? The best part about guiding is hands down the looks on people’s faces after they’ve conquered something they never thought that they could. Everyone should get out of their comfort zone every now and then, and I love that I get to facilitate that every week!

A memorable moment from your job: One time, on a Half Dome backpacking trip, the conditions were just right for us to do a sunset summit of Half Dome, instead of our normal sunrise.  As the group was watching the sunset, I turned around and realized that two of our guests were in the midst of getting engaged!  I couldn’t imagine a better place for the guy to pop the question and his now finance, had no idea that it was about to happen.  What a moment!

 

Ty Campbell

Guiding since: 2013

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Dallas, TX

What type of tours do you guide? Multi-day Tours

Hobbies: Rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and camping with friends and family.

What do you love most about guiding? I love creating strong relationships with guests built on trust, understanding and patience, and then helping them overcome their fears or anxieties through positive reinforcement and mutual respect. My two greatest passions are enjoying the outdoors and connecting with people, being a guide allows me to combine both of these things into a fulfilling life-purpose and career.

 

Tyler Michael

Coming soon!

 

Whitney Schuette

Guiding since: 2014

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Iowa City, IA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day hiking and backpacking tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Constantly working in various capacities in the off season; from working in a genetic research laboratory to digging drainage in a cornfield, Whitney enjoys learning new skills year-round. Between tours, Whitney enjoys getting as much time outdoors as possible.  Some of her favorite activities include, rock climbing, running, swimming, kayaking, and bagging peaks.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Whitney loves meeting new people and sharing the places she loves with whoever she comes across.

 

Will Burkhart

Coming soon!

Interested in becoming an outdoor guide? Check out Job Opportunties.

Office Staff

Every member of our staff has a love of the outdoors and adventure and each has a unique set of life accomplishments that make AOA a very special organization. Everybody on the AOA team wears many hats and some of our best guides are among our office staff. We are dedicated to making every guest’s experience extraordinary (often life-changing), while respecting and preserving the very special places we visit. We think that AOA is an exceptional place to work, and our staff agree. In 2014 we were voted as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work. We strive every day to share our enthusiasm for the outdoors with our travelers and bike rental customers.

Administrative

Rick Hill, Director of Technology/CFO

At AOA since: 2001 (started as a consultant)

Hometown: Tucumcari, NM

Hobbies: Photography, fishing, riding my mountain and road bike, hanging out with my grandchildren. As a college student I spent 8 months in Brazil and 9 months in Japan to help create what is now GPS.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel?I enjoy everyone I work with. It is one of the best work environments I’ve ever been in.

A memorable moment from your job: Going to Sky Camp in British Columbia is my most memorable experience with AOA.

 

Maryanne Heald, Permits Manager

Guiding since: 2005

At AOA since: 2009

Hometown: Tacoma, WA

Hobbies/fun facts: Off-road triathlons and hunting for desert reptiles!

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I love to see people getting to know and love the amazing places we travel to just as much as I do!

A memorable moment from your job: We had one guest that showed up multiple years for the same backpacking trip in the Superstition Mountains, and I was the guide two of those tours. I loved that she was so drawn to that place and the group camaraderie of the trip. They were definitely two of my favorite Superstition adventures!

 

Annemarie Kruse, Director of Marketing

At AOA since: 2013

Hometown: Tacoma, WA

What type of tours do you usually guide? I get in the field as much as possible and love guiding all our trips but especially cycling!

Hobbies/fun facts: Has traveled to 17 states and 22 countries.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Life is never boring working in the outdoor industry. I love being surrounded by other people who love the outdoors as much as I do.

 

Siera Whitten, Marketing Coordinator

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Hobbies/fun facts: I’m an Arizona-native but grew up spending most of the year in Lake Tahoe (to practice becoming a ski-bum 😉 ). I love cliff jumping, swimming, hiking, traveling often, doodling and journaling daily, perfecting my gardening and cooking skills, and reading a good book.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Everyone shares a true passion for the outdoors and adventure outside of the office. We walk our talk and know how to work hard to play hard. It’s never hard to come to work every day for AOA because I love and live by everything we stand for.

 

Steve Watson, Human Resources

Coming soon!

Bike Rental Shop

Cary Cox, Bike Shop Manager

Mechanic since: 1970

At AOA since: 1997

Hometown: Newton, IA

Hobbies/fun facts: Hitting things with sticks (drumming) and putting wires between things, or not.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Observing a complicated system actually work!

 

Casey Gallagher, Bike Mechanic

Coming soon!

 

Tyler Coplea, Bike Mechanic/Guide

Mechanic since: 2007

At AOA since: 2015

Hometown: Fountain Hills, AZ

What type of tours do you usually guide? All tours!

Hobbies/fun facts: Climbing and mountain biking. I’m not Shaun White or Carrot Top!

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Showing amazing places to people!

A memorable moment from your job: Running out of the Grand Canyon with an ultra-runner after guiding in Supai for 5 days and wearing a massive pack, as well as going off of just four hours of sleep!

 

Jake Plapp, Bike Mechanic/Guide

Mechanic since: 2010

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Sedona, AZ

Hobbies/fun facts: Re-tapping crank threads

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? My favorite thing about my profession is introducing new comers or first-timers to the world of cycling, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors.

 

Kapri Gonzales, Bike Mechanic/Guide

Guide/Mechanic since: 2016

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Queen Creek, AZ

What type of tours do you usually guide? Primarily Mountain Bike/Cycling, occasionally River/Hiking

Hobbies/fun facts: I used to race at the domestic elite level for road cycling, mostly local racing and ventured in some national races. I won the women’s fixed gear dog tags at the 2012 Wolfpack Marathon Crash race, and was the only female to get invited to the Red Bull Ride n Style in 2012, which I did attend. I am beginning my final year at ASU and am getting my bachelors in Health Promotion. Although, I do not race anymore, I still ride for fun… mostly mountain bikes 🙂

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I absolutely love meeting new people! I love to learn from others about the places that they have been to or have lived in. I love to travel and I have learned about new places from my guests that I now want to visit. Also, I enjoy teaching others how to ride bikes and helping to build their confidence. Many people are worried their first time on a bike, but when they have an awesome experience riding with AOA, they become more confident in themselves and usually talk about wanting to get into riding back home.

Day Tours

Jon Colby, Director of Day Tour Programs

Guiding since: 1981

At AOA since: 2011

Hometown: Tempe, AZ

Hobbies/fun facts: Once rode the Pemberton on my Huffy (walked some)

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Meeting people.

A memorable moment from your job: Roll starting a bus and trailer backwards down a boat ramp

 

Alyssa Gallagher, Day Tours Program Manager

Guiding since: 2008

At AOA since: 2011

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

What type of tours do you usually guide? None- office dweller extraordinaire (But really- day tours, I run all the corporate team building events)

Hobbies/fun facts: I worked in wilderness therapy (Hoods in the Woods) for two years, which is what got me into guiding/the outdoor industry!

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I like sharing my hobbies with guests on a daily basis and getting people into the outdoors!

 

Kelly Hauer, Adventure Advisor

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

What type of tours do you usually guide? Bike Rental Facilitator, Tour Coordinator, Office Sanitation 😉

Hobbies/fun facts: I learned how to turn my jeans into a flotation device while treading water! Boom! Hobbies include making casseroles- because they are just delicious (no, I’m not southern), snowboarding, hiking, running, biking, camping.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I like being around people who appreciate nature and want to go explore it!

 

Macey Hallstedt, Adventure Advisor

Guiding since: 2016

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

What type of tours do you usually guide? After guiding in Lake Superior this past summer, I now guide a mouse ALL OVER a computer screen.

Hobbies/fun facts: I talk to myself on hikes, enjoy anything on which I can put guacamole, and have explored 17 countries.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Seeing peoples’ eyes light up because nature is just THAT DOPE. Also cheesy guide jokes. Personal favorite: “How deep is the water here?” “About waist-deep on a duck.”

A memorable moment from your job: Every time someone brings in food.

See Macey’s blogs at https://maverickmacey.wordpress.com/.

Instagram: @maverickmacey

Multi-Day Tours

Brian Jump, Director of Multi-day Trip Programs

Guiding since: 1998

At AOA since: 1998

Hometown: Brunswick, Maine

Hobbies/fun facts: Walking my dog Bubba, gardening, road and mountain cycling, I was once a gymnast (Connecticut state champ in the all-around at age 12), still enjoy hucking gainers off big cliffs

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Gosh, trying to narrow down what I like best about the Adventure Travel Industry is a most difficult task. I’ve tried and failed because just when I think I’ve figured it out, another ‘best’ reason reveals itself. I guess that’s to be expected during my twentieth year in an ever evolving company in a very dynamic and growing industry! Today, the best part of the Adventure Travel Industry is my co-workers, this group of people care about what they do and bring their ‘A’ game to all the aspects that make AOA great. Just today I’ve seen the operations staff going out of their way to set the guides up for a successful trip, two guides taking time away from their off season to figure out the nuances of trail conditions for the upcoming season, a trip developer trying to create the most spectacular guest experience in uncharted terrain and the sales team dreaming better ways to tell the story of how excited they are about the experiences we offer. Tomorrow, who knows, maybe it’ll be the sound of Havasu Creek singing me to sleep while the canyon walls frame an endless sky. The Adventure Travel Industry is the best for so many reasons and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

 

Josh Kloepping, Multi-day Tours Program Manager

Guiding since: 2008

At AOA since: 2008

Hometown: The great state of Texas

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and cycling.

Hobbies/fun facts: Ironman Triathlon finisher and recipient if REI’s Top Guide Award for 2011.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? The moment when you see people get inspired by, and completely fall in love with, nature.

A memorable moment from your job: Leading a group of wounded veterans, many with one and even two amputations, on a five-day hike across the Grand Canyon. We summited on the 15-year anniversary of 9/11. I left this trip in complete awe of their spirit, positive attitude, and complete determination.

 

Hansi Ebert, Puzzle Master

At AOA since: 2002

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Hobbies/Fun facts: I began whitewater rafting trips at the age of 18 and worked in various places such as California, Idaho , Utah, ARizona and Wyoming. I obtained a BA in Tourism/Business from Black Hills State University, one of the first tourism degrees ever offered! I love hiking, weightlifting, handstands, doodling, spending time with my two kids and getting outside of my comfort zone.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? The adventure travel industry attracts creative, athletic and engaging people, so I am always surrounded by people who are fun and therefore, there is never a dull moment at work.  I love taking a bunch of information and organizing it so it is easy to understand and people walk away feeling informed.  I am fueled by the satisfaction that comes with carrying out memorable trips that leave a lasting impression on our guests and clients.  I love tackling all the steps it takes to accomplish that.

 

Megan Anderson, Adventure Ninja

Guiding since: 2006

At AOA since: 2004

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day tours, backpacking, etc.

Hobbies/fun facts: Hiked JMT in 2016 while pregnant! Favorite trail lunch = apple & cheese sandwich.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? The community and culture inherent in AOA and the outdoors in general.

 

Chris Jolley, Adventure Architect

Guiding since: 1991

At AOA since: 2002

Hometown: Orem, UT

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day Charity/Challenge tours.

Hobbies/fun facts: Mormon, Bartender at Gay Bar, Bull Rider during the “off season”, Ragnar for Dogs, Race Participant, Running with the Polar Bears Participant 2016.

 

Bethany Cava, Adventure Architect

Guiding since: 2010

At AOA since: 2014

Hometown: Syosset, NY. Lived all over the US ever since!

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day hiking, backpacking, and the occasional cycling tour

Hobbies/fun facts: I love sports, reading, and motorcycle camping (where we load up all our camping gear onto our bikes and ride somewhere cool to hike and camp for the weekend).

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I love that I get to put together awesome outdoor vacations for people to some of my favorite places. And they pay me to travel, too! How cool is that?

 

Courtney Cox, Multi-day Trip Administrative Coordinator

Guiding since: 2014

At AOA since: 2015

Hometown: Glendale, AZ

Hobbies/fun facts: I am an Arizona native, have a hot pink kayak, and I guided in South Africa for 4 months. My hobbies include hiking, biking, kayaking and cooking.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Being around other nature lovers (dirt bags) and getting to try new things (road biking, paddle boarding, rafting).

A memorable moment from your job:We scouted a kayaking trip at the Verde River. The water was fast and the overgrown vegetation made for an interesting trip! It was a great day with the AOA river guides.

 

Tawnya Sauer, Multi-day Trip Administrative Coordinator

Coming soon!

 

Aya Nameth, Adventure Consultant

Guiding since: I have been guiding myself through life since birth so somewhere between 2 and 3 decades.

At AOA since: 2014

Hometown: Dallas, TX

What type of tours do you usually guide? The epic adventurous ones…mostly multi-day tours.

Hobbies/fun facts: I decided to run away and become a glacier-trekking/heli-hiking guide in Alaska once (because what else does one do after a breakup?) and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life…once I actually learned how to dress for the cold that is…apparently “cotton kills” is a real thing outside of the 115 degree Arizona heat. Who knew?

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? There’s nothing like hanging out with a bunch of like-minded adventure seekers that can match your stoke level.

 

Paul Stevenson, Adventure Consultant

At AOA since: 2016

Hometown: Alpharetta, GA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Swimming, cycling, mountain biking, running, camping, backpacking. Avid cyclist and triathlete- frequently competing at the regional and national level. Graduated from ASU in 2015 with a double major in Sustainability and Economics.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? I love working at AOA as it combines my passion for cycling and the outdoors with problem solving and critical thinking (using my noggin).

Operations

Lucas Brown, Multi-day Tour Operations Manager

Guiding since: 2013

At AOA since: 2013

Hometown: Markesan, WI (population 1,400- 0 stoplights)

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day hiking, backpacking, and the occasional cycling tours

Hobbies/fun facts: A friend and I once put 10,000 miles on his Pontiac GrandAm over a 3-week period on a road trip from Wisconsin to Glacier National Park to Alaska and back. It was the trip of a lifetime.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? It’s always very memorable and rewarding to see the look on a person’s face when you share your favorite places and experiences and you can watch it become one of their favorite places or experiences.

A memorable moment from your job: Jumping from Havasu Falls for the first time with a group of awesome guests.

 

Brannon Glenn, Multi-day Tour Operations/Guide

Guiding since: 1997

At AOA since: 2011

Hometown: Seattle, WA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day hiking, backpacking and cycling tours

Hobbies/fun facts: The plural of Octapus is Octopodes…look it up.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Traveling with different people from all over the world is amazing but the best part is the people I work with to make trips special.

A memorable moment from your job: The slot canyons are memorable, so is the expanse of Death Valley. The Grand Canyon has lots of memories, so does the hoodoos of Bryce. I guess it’s all pretty memorable!

 

Michael Blaylock, Multi-day Tour Operations

Guiding since: 2014

At AOA since: 2017

Hometown: Monroe, GA

What type of tours do you usually guide? Multi-day hiking and backpacking tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Mountain biking, discovering new music and adventure time.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Being able to tell people that places like the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce and Yosemite are my office – killer view man!

 

Sam Trenski, Multi-day Tour Operations

Coming soon!

 

AJ Smith, Multi-day Tour Operations

Coming soon!

 

Tim Montgomery, Special Operations

Guiding since: 1992

At AOA since: 2012

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

What type of tours do you usually guide? River tours

Hobbies/fun facts: 62 trips in the Grand Canyon.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Being on the water.

 

Mark Morgan, Special Operations

Guiding since: the 90s

At AOA since: 2012

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ

What type of tours do you usually guide? River tours

Hobbies/fun facts: Started training as a river guide at the age of 16. Enjoys his downtime with his family and getting his two sons and daughter out on the water or bikes as often as possible.

What do you love most about guiding/working in adventure travel? Working with people that also have a love for the outdoors.


Interested in joining the AOA Office Staff? Check out our current Job Opportunities.

 

Professional AOA Staff Portraits were taken by Jill Richards Photography.