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 an apprenticeship, 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, our 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.
Chris, a proud (and rare) Arizona Native, grew up adventuring under the tutelage of his mom who made sure he experienced the best of backpacking, hiking, skiing, kayaking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Those passions continued to help mold his future as he spent his time becoming a master of all things southwest, including natural history, flora, fauna and native cultures. A former EMT, Chris is currently certified as a Wilderness First Responder and has been learning and teaching outdoor survival and primitive living skills for almost a decade. Carrying his passion for backpacking and the outdoors throughout his life, Chris now enjoys every moment he spends in the fresh air and sunshine only the southwest can provide and has been guiding professionally since 2001.
Tim grew up in Taos, New Mexico where he spent 35 years working as a whitewater raft guide, ski instructor, bar manager and sous chef. He also spent 10 years as a wine buyer for a premier ski lodge, where he developed an appreciation for and a vast knowledge of a variety of fine wines. In addition, Tim has a passion for cycling, rock climbing and backpacking adventures and is an avid reader. He is certified as a Wilderness First Responder and Swift Water Rescue Technician. When not leading tours he can often be found exploring ruins and cliff dwellings throughout the Southwest or spending a relaxing day near the beach. His extensive experience in hotels and restaurants comes in handy when preparing a picnic lunch, a camp dinner or selecting a bottle of wine. However, most guests remember Tim for his vast knowledge of the Southwest, his witty humor and cleverly placed jokes.
Denny’s first career was with 84 Lumber where he worked for 26 years, retiring as Chief Operating Officer in 1999. He has worked as a guide for AOA since 2001. Denny guides more tours for AOA than any other guide, in fact he probably guides more tours than any other guide in the Southwest! His years of experience and personality ensure that he can relate equally well with corporate executives and kids on their first mountain bike tour. When not leading hiking or biking tours for AOA he has completed numerous distance cycling tours including Seattle to Washington DC and Seattle to San Francisco
Alex has a love of our national treasures, and is best known by guests for the patience in his coaching style, his openness and approachability, but mostly for his endless enthusiasm and energy. Alex is a 7-time Ironman finisher who ran his first marathon at the age of 8 and ever since had the bug and endurance for adventure. When he’s not guiding a group tour, you’ll probably find him behind his camera lens, fly fishing, traveling around the world with his wife, or maybe cooking up something great in the kitchen. One of Alex’s dreams is to continue his travels by exploring and playing in all of our National Parks.
A self-proclaimed nomad, Stephen found the outdoor industry through his strong passion for climbing. After many years in NYC, he ran for fresh air bouncing his way across our country eventually landing in Arizona. Inspired by the always-surprising diversity of the desert, his passion for the outdoors is one of his greatest gifts. He tries to bring the childlike wonder and awe out of every guest by sharing the hidden gems our Earth has to offer. Stephen has earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and holds a Wilderness First Responder Certification. Stephen is always excited to embark on new adventures with guests, guiding them through the many natural challenges that lie ahead.
Dove belongs to the small group of Arizona residents who were born and raised in this wilderness-rich southwest state. She spent her childhood exploring the Superstition Mountains and the Mogollan Rim region and brought her love of the outdoors into her formal education by pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies at Northern Arizona University. Working as an educational Park Ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park and hiking and backpacking the most beautiful wilderness areas of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, led Dove to the field of professional guiding. She holds certifications as a Wilderness First Responder and as a Leave No Trace Master Educator. On her days off, Dove can be found hiking her favorite trails in the Superstitions with her dog, Timber.
Originally hailing from the small town of Ukiah, California, where wine country meets the redwoods, Nick began spending time outdoors at an early age. This early exposure led him to a degree in Soil Sciences from Huboldt State University and eventually to a career as a field biologist working in many of the West’s most spectacular parks (where he now guides!). He grew his outdoor credentials further with graduate studies in Forestry at Northern Arizona University. Nick’s knowledge of southwest ecology and natural resource issues and his deep appreciation for public lands shows through on each of the trips he guides. When not in the field, Nick is probably enjoying a craft IPA, experimenting in the kitchen, watching a Giants baseball game or out exploring with his wife and dog. Nick is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Brannon, who is originally from Seattle, has found his home in the desert southwest where he’s guided for over ten years. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Adventure Education from the legendary Prescott College, Brannon focused his energies on helping children and teens discover their passion for nature, adventure and the outdoors. As a director for a ropes and challenge course in the mountains of Arizona, Brannon was able to help people learn to face their fears and turn them into experiences that will last in their memories for a lifetime. Brannon is Wilderness First Responder certified and has lead wilderness trips from kayaking Puget Sound to hiking the Grand Canyon to rock climbing Joshua Tree National Park. AOA is proud to have his enthusiasm, talent, experience and competence as part of the team!
Brooklyn born and raised, Jen went to college in Manhattan and received a degree in psychology before heeding the call of the wild outdoors. While spending six months abroad in Costa Rica, Jen studied the language and backpacked the famous Osa Peninsula coast to coast. The experience helped solidify the decision to leave the city behind. She has since traveled through five continents, backpacking and climbing through some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the world. Jen’s adventures led her to pursue a career as an outdoor guide and brought her to the Southwest, first New Mexico and eventually to be based in the sunny Sonoran Desert. Leading trips in the Grand Canyon, Havasupai, Bryce, Zion, and more, Jen brings an infectious enthusiasm and excitement to all who travel with her. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Born at 5,280 feet above sea level, Joy grew up catching fireflies in Mississippi, exploring the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and skiing Colorado slopes before moving to Montana for university after seeing a River Runs Through It. Between studying abroad in Africa, road-tripping out West and discovering really good coffee, she managed to acquire a degree in Rural and Environmental Change with emphasis in Mountain Tourism and Adventure Travel, which has provided her nothing less than the opportunity to pursue exciting activities wholeheartedly every single day. The road less traveled eventually led her to the canyons of Arizona and the stimulating profession of introducing others to her greatest passion. From guiding trips on volcanoes in Guatemala to teaching al fresco recreation skills in Hong Kong, Joy’s traveled, worked and lived in 40 countries plus over the last decade. When she’s not guiding in our nations’ most beautiful places, Joy can be found running ultra distances, sipping whiskey-on-the-rocks, freelance writing and routing future journeys on topographical maps of the Southwest US. She’s a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Brian was born and raised in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, and currently lives in Gilbert, Arizona. Drawn to the outdoors from a young age, Brian is an avid hiker, river runner, and an accomplished canyoneer. His explorations have taken him from the depths of Grand Canyon to the winding slot canyons of Utah’s Zion National Park and Escalante National Monument. His wanderlust has led him outside of America as well – he spent a year in Bavaria absorbing the local culture and becoming fluent in German. Brian’s outdoor career has also led him to become a Wilderness EMT. His enthusiasm and vast local knowledge make every trip he leads both informative and exciting.
Over a decade ago, Nick Martin dropped the suit-and-tie for a baseball cap and bike shorts and started a career as Guide. He has been honing the art of canyon cooking, historical interpretation and packing coolers ever since. Nick’s sense of humor, irrepressible smile and articulate communication have convinced hundreds of big, little, old and young folks to trust their feet to climb down Mooney Falls, up Angel’s Landing and out of Grand Canyon. An outdoor recreation Jack of all trades, he constantly switches between his mountain bike, skis, running shoes, climbing harness and slew of topographical maps of the Southwest US. When he’s not exploring the confines of Canyonlands or guiding trips in our nations’ greatest parks, he’s probably skiing powder off the snowy ridges of the San Juan Mountains, diving with whale sharks in the Gulf of Thailand, trekking the Great Wall of China in a snowstorm, drinking cold beer on one of the 7,200 islands of the Philippines or practicing Spanish in Patagonia. He’s held a Wilderness First Responder certification since 2007.
Originally from the Midwest, Gary came to Arizona as a professional portrait and landscape photographer and found his way to guiding in 1991 as a way to bring together his passion for the outdoors with his joy of helping others experience sports like backpacking and hiking. Coming from an educational background of mathematics and technology, Gary now enjoys reading philosophy and doing yoga in between guiding trips to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. When asked his favorite trip to run, he says it’s whichever he is currently leading and happily quotes Edward Abbey’s “This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places.” Gary’s commitment to the finer details of a trip, mixed with his skill in the kitchen and his passion for interpretation, make him one of those guides that our guests tend never to forget long after their adventures are over. Gary is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Hailing from the small town of Pinetop, Arizona, James grew up in the forests and mountain land of this desert state, contributing to his lifelong love of the outdoors. James has backpacked the great mountain ranges of the southwest, throughout Arizona’s Grand Canyon, White Mountains, and Superstitions, California’s Sierra Nevada, and Colorado’s San Juan mountains. His years of experience backpacking, river rafting, and rock climbing have developed a deep appreciation for the diverse landscape of the American Southwest. Guiding allows James to share his enthusiasm for the places he loves and encourage others to explore and open their minds to adventure. In addition to guiding, James is a certified yoga instructor who incorporates his practice with his outdoor pursuits. In his free time he enjoys hiking the waterways of Arizona with his dog, spending time with his wife, and developing his own yoga practice. James holds a Wilderness First Responder certification.
Born in Phoenix as a third generation Arizonan, Tim has the desert in his blood. His earliest outdoor experiences included earning his Eagle Scout and working with the Youth Conservation Corps. Tim earned degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Technology before a serendipitous barroom run-in with a river guide brought him into the world of commercial river running. He surrendered his bartending job and soon reported for guide duty on the Upper Salt River. Over the last twenty years as a river guide, Tim has honed his skills on the Salt, Gila, San Juan, Arkansas, Snake, Green, and Colorado Rivers. He brings his wealth of experience to his boat trips and has become an indispensable part of AOA’s operations and gear management crew. Tim is certified in Swift Water and White Water Rescue and as a Wilderness First Responder.
An avid outdoor enthusiast, Phil has over 35 years of backpacking experience in the Grand Canyon as both hiker and trip leader. He has spent countless days in the backcountry of Arizona and southwestern Colorado hiking, backpacking, cycling, and mountain biking. Among his adventures, he participated in the only sanctioned hang-gliding flight into the Grand Canyon. As a career-man, Phil can boast success as a consultant in the financial industry, international marketing in the aerospace industry and years of service on various boards and commissions in the city of Phoenix. His knowledge of Southwest flora and fauna is deep and wide and features prominently in all of his tours. Phil is enthusiastic, passionate, and dedicated to making every day with guests fun and rewarding.
In all areas of life – personal, professional, or the outdoors – Jaro delivers impact. A “recovering triathlete” and a native of Slovakia, he has run, swam, biked, hiked, explored and conducted business across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, the waters of the Caribbean and the Pacific. Jaro’s passion for an active lifestyle and travel, professional background, and 15 years of outdoor experience inform him in tailoring his guests’ adventures to suit each participant uniquely. Whether a highly interpretive experience (where the cacti sometimes do jump!), a relaxed day on the trails or water, or a fast-paced MTB ride for the fit and advanced, a tour with Jaro leaves a lasting impression. His versatility, attention to detail, and ability to relate to people with diverse backgrounds, coupled with his passion for the outdoors, allow him to consistently deliver on AOA’s mission of “…enhancing the lives of our guests via educational adventure-based experiences.” Outside of AOA, Jaro is a successful business owner. As the founder and CEO of GEN R Executive Education, he delivers impact and success to organizations around the globe.