We've been partnering with travelers for over 30 years and from the beginning, it's always been about being a true friend to our travelers. We feel there are a few characteristics that we have in abundance that make us a great friend to you, as you go about exploring our world. If our values align with yours, we are probably a great fit - and we can't wait to get started!
Adventurous travel has always been important as a path to understanding our world and nourishing our spirits. At the same time, now more than ever, it’s vitally important to consider just how we go about all that adventuring. That’s why everything we do at Off the Beaten Path is guided by our commitment to environmentally and socially responsible travel. Foremost, this means working in a respectful, ecologically sensitive manner with local communities from Bettles, Alaska, to Koror, Palau. Because of this, you can trust that wherever you go as an OBP traveler you will be welcomed as a beneficial, balanced part of the local culture, nature, and economy. The truth is, travelers themselves are an essential component of responsible travel. Modern adventurers are ambassadors and witnesses, friends and allies, students and contributors. Off the Beaten Path recognizes the importance of person-to-person connections and helps you travel with your eyes, mind, and heart wide open.
When we opened our doors over thirty years ago, "responsible travel" was a new idea in the travel industry. It’s deeply satisfying to see how the concept has both taken root and taken wing. Every day we are inspired anew by travelers who cherish the natural world, are motivated toward genuine discovery, and who explore not to be merely entertained, but to be enlightened and energized. This confirms our hope and belief that future generations will inherit a healthy and diverse planet—along with a hearty hunger for adventure. See the world, love the world, off the beaten path.
Off the Beaten Path co-founder
Meet Our Guides
OBP’s guides are the best in the business, from historians to naturalists!
Rocky Mountains, US National Parks, Desert Southwest
Rocky Mountains, Desert Southwest
Alaska, California, Desert Southwest
Desert Southwest, US National Parks, South America, Central America
Mimi Lawrence, Anna Burkhardt, Cory Lawrence, Carrie Henderson, Cary Costello, Elin Hert, Rob Wales, Allison Larew, Sandi Gerchow, Ann Gabrielson, Theresa Corelli, Carrie Lawrence, Naomi Moore, Melisa Guthrie, Judy Schaap, Kevin Le Vine, Julie Eik, Roslyn Owens, Kari La Pierre, Caroline Artime Delaney Hall
Not Pictured: Julianne Mohr, Nikole Drummond, Nando Vallenas, Stephanie Gorder, Jill Tressler, Katie Arenas
"Let us be your friends in the West"
In 1986, Bill and Pam Bryan founded Off the Beaten Path. With their love for the Rocky Mountains, and a true desire to share the best of it with their friends and family, they created the first custom travel company, designing every trip to the Northern Rockies from scratch. In a tiny advertisement in the New Yorker, Bill and Pam claimed to be the friends you wished you had in the Rockies – and that is exactly what they became. Then, their new friends told their friends, who told their friends, and in authentic style, Off the Beaten Path was on its way!
In 1990, Off the Beaten Path made its next big move, expanding into new territories with similar qualities as the Rockies – interesting, strikingly beautiful, steeped in culture, and an adventurer’s wonderland. The Desert Southwest, Canadian Rockies, Pacific Northwest, California, and Alaska came into the fold and OBP increased the opportunities for localized experiences across the western half of North America. Just as it did with the Northern Rockies, scouting trips, relationship development, and insider tip collection followed. Ready. Set. Go!
Of course! Take what we know is the best-in-the-West, and offer it up to small group of travelers led by local guides. In 1992, Off the Beaten Path offered a line-up of adventures, each small, with local, experienced guides at the helm, and a distinct focus – wildlife, hiking, national parks, and culture. Today, we offer 30 trips, taking travelers to places as far-ranging as Peru, Alaska, Samoa, Yellowstone, Acadia, Hawaii, the Grand Canyon, and beyond!
A region of South America, very dear to Bill and Pam Bryan’s hearts. Why not? With everything about Patagonia right in line with our values, in 1999, we hopped, skipped, and jumped – and landed in southern Chile and Argentina. Today, we offer Custom Journeys, Small Group Adventures, and Fly Fishing Expeditions to Patagonia.
Off the Beaten Path is proud to be a Founding Member of the Adventure Collection, a partnership of nine of the world’s most trusted and experienced adventure travel companies. Collectively we span the globe, offering distinctive journeys on seven continents and in over 70 countries. Our partnership is based on deep friendship and mutual respect. As such, we can recommend, without hesitation, any of our Adventure Collection partner companies if you’re looking for an adventure or destination that we don’t currently offer. For the best in small ship expeditions, African safaris, trekking in Asia, private air travel in India, and plenty more, we encourage you to check out the Adventure Collection website
When Bill Bryan and Cory Lawrence worked together on a project in Wyoming, not only did they enjoy each other’s company, but they found their interests and skills to be very complementary. Cory, a native of Buffalo, Wyoming with a CPA from Notre Dame and a desire to be part of a business that he felt passionately about – and which would get him back to the Rockies – agreed to take the CEO reins. Over the years, the company has grown and prospered, and continues to take on its own exciting adventures!
Territory Expansion – Sewing up the Western Hem of the Western Hemisphere
Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belize, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and, dagnabbit, Easter Island. Here we come! More beauty, more adventure, more culture, more turquoise-blue waters, more islands –we’ll take it!
Off the Beaten Path has been working with the National Parks Conservation Association for years to bring travelers well-informed and exquisitely crafted experiences that capture the nature, culture, and character of our national parklands.
We may not be around the world quite yet, but we are always finding new places that inspire us, which leads us on our way. Most recently, we’ve got Morocco under our belts, so there’s the beginning of Africa. We’ve begun planning trips to Scotland, so British Isles, here we come! You can count on us to keep you posted!
Lindblad Expeditions acquired a majority stake in Off the Beaten Path
In March 2021, as the world was emerging from a year of isolation and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lindblad Expeditions acquired a majority stake in Off the Beaten Path. The union of Off the Beaten Path and Lindblad was cause for great celebration by both parties, for the expanded opportunities it would bring as pent-up demand for travel began to skyrocket.
Andrew Gulliford is a professor of History and Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, teaching popular college courses on wilderness, national parks and environmental history. His guiding experience has included leading tours across the West by canoe, raft, horseback, van, cruise ship, private train, and private jet for organizations such as Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and several more.
When Andrew goes indoors, he writes! He has authored several books, America’s Country Schools, Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions, Boomtown Blues: Colorado Oil Shale, which won the Colorado Book Award, and most recently Outdoors in the Southwest: An Adventure Anthology. In addition to author, Andrew has edited Preserving Western History and writes columns about the west for a variety of western newspapers.
Andrew received the National Individual Volunteer Award from the U.S. Forest Service for wilderness education, and a certificate of recognition from the Secretary of Agriculture for “outstanding contributions to America’s natural and cultural resources.”
Brenda is a friendly, fun, and knowledgeable naturalist who loves being outdoors! Brenda has been living in the Yellowstone Ecosystem for over twenty years, and leading hiking, skiing, and snowshoe tours in Yellowstone Park for over a decade. When Brenda is not busy guiding, she teaches weekly yoga classes. Brenda has helped annually with Expedition Yellowstone, a program for elementary students who spend a week in Yellowstone learning about ecology, geology, and the natural and human history of the world’s first national park. Brenda enjoys hiking, biking, running, kayaking, tennis, skiing and camping in the wonderful great outdoors.
Chris grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and in the late 1990s, followed his love of the outdoors west to attend Northern Arizona University. After earning his degree, Chris met his wife Marissa, and they joined the Peace Corps in Paraguay. After returning home from volunteering, by happy accident, Chris discovered the joys of guiding, and spent six years as a full-time backcountry guide, leading trips across the western United States. When Chris’s second child was born, he left guiding full time and devoted the next eight years to building a career in conservation-ecological restoration. After working at Northern Arizona University for several years, Chris co-founded Ecoculture, a nonprofit organization devoted to the development of large-scale reforestation projects around the world.
Over the years, Chris has continued guiding part time as a way to connect with others and share his love of the outdoors. When Chris is not planting trees or leading trips, he can be found in Puerto Rico hiking local trails, swimming on the beach, researching future trips, and having adventures with his wife and kids.
David Wimpfheimer is a professional naturalist, biologist, and guide who is passionate about the natural world, with a particular interest in birds and the natural history of the American West. With a degree in biology from Beloit College, David has traveled to Alaska to observe seabirds and shorebirds and studied raptors in Egypt, Point Reyes, where he lives, and other regions of California.
For more than thirty years, David has shared his extensive knowledge about all aspects of the natural world with hundreds of groups, including the Smithsonian Institution, California Academy of Sciences, Point Reyes Field Institute, Speyside Wildlife Road Scholar, Oceanic Society, and Wild Wings. His educational programs have focused on Point Reyes, Alaska, Arizona, Baja California, Yosemite, Death Valley and other parts of California.
Eric Retterbush is a seasoned guide and curious explorer of the world. He believes that great experiences make great people and works diligently to provide his travelers with adventurous-leaning, safe journeys. Eric spends most of his guide time in the national parks, offering a mix of geological, natural, and human background, which help unravel the mysteries of these wild places. Several times of year, Eric also leads teenagers on trips abroad to far-flung destinations such as Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania, and the jungles of Costa Rica and Belize.
Eric has invested his resources into building a life of experiences. He has traveled to over 40 countries and spent close to 60 months abroad. He resides in Flagstaff, Arizona with his equally adventurous wife, who together spend their free time mountain biking, climbing, skiing and canyoneering in the Southwest’s rough and tough country. Eric is also a talented oil and watercolor painter and a student of vintage photography techniques.
For the last decade, Eric has helped to create positive and meaningful experiences for people who travel with him. He has a wealth of knowledge and stories to share and looks forward to showing you the best our natural world has to offer.
Erin grew up near Minneapolis and has always had an inherent love for theatre and the great outdoors. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre from the University of Minnesota and spent much of her free time immersing in Minnesota’s natural treasures –its famous lakes, Lutsen Mountain, and the Boundary Waters.
After moving west to Montana, Erin spent 12 years at Bozeman’s Verge Theater acting and directing countless productions, with professional positions as instructor, programs director, and artistic director.
Erin taught a variety of classes and age groups over the years and found that she especially loved directing the teen theater productions and teaching grades K-5 in musical theater and improvisation. While providing her students with a challenging curriculum, Erin’s main interest has been to promote their self-esteem. Teaching kids and teens to trust their instincts, ask questions, and explore new opportunities is just as important to her as the content of her classes. Erin is excited to combine her love of nature, teaching, and empowering young people on the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Family Expeditions.
As a resident of Montana for the past 18 years, Erin has had numerous opportunities to explore the West. Some of her favorite national parks include Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Arches. She is passionate about learning about each park’s and region’s flora, fauna, geographic features, and cultural history.
Jeanelle Carpentier grew up on a small island in the state of Washington, where she gained her love of nature and outdoor adventure at a young age. She began traveling the world with her family at the age of six, and has had a love for travel ever since.
Studies in psychology, outdoor management, and wilderness medicine have set Janelle up well to lead tours and expeditions to destinations around the world, including the American West. Over the decades, she has explored more than fifty countries and resided in New Zealand, Peru, and Australia. She established her home in the heart of the Colorado Plateau, drawn by its diverse high-desert landscape.
With a strong personal connection to the Desert Southwest’s natural wonders, history, and culture, Janelle is passionate about and grateful to be able to share her passion for nature, the outdoors, and our national parks with travelers.
When Jeanelle isn’t working, hiking, or traveling the world, she enjoys anything to do with mountains, climbing, rafting, biking, yoga, photography, cooking, arts & crafts, conservation, volunteering, and education.
“Do what you love, love what you do.” For Jenn Morrell, that is hiking and exploring the outdoors and all it has to offer in beauty, intrigue, awe and inspiration. Jenn has been sharing her passion for nature with young and old alike for over 25 years. As an Outdoor Environmental Educator, she provides hands-on experiences for elementary students and as an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service she has had the privilege of working in Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, Mojave, the National Mall, and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Teaching about nature, in nature, has always brought Jenn great joy. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation and a Master of Science degree in Park and Resource Management. Her desire for every tour is that guests experience the outdoors in a unique way that makes for an unforgettable experience!
Born and raised near Vancouver, British Columbia, Jennifer is a traveler, adventurer, and lifelong learner.
While backpacking around the world, she fell in love with wild places, new experiences, and fresh perspectives. Jennifer has spent years guiding guests through Canada, South America and Antarctica. She has traveled independently to over 80 countries on seven continents and is thrilled to share her love of the natural world with guests from all over the globe.
When she is not showing off her country, Jennifer can be found hiking, skiing, or paddling near her home in beautiful Squamish, BC.
John has been interested in traveling, what can be learned from it, and sharing it with others, since his days as a youth growing up in rural Ohio. A graduate of Marietta College, with a BA in Recreation Management, his wanderlust and yearning for adventure has taken him to 49 states and over 35 countries on 5 continents. Moving west, John worked as a group travel coordinator, which is when he found his true calling, leading adventure-based trips out of Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, which took him to remote regions of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
John later spent several years living and guiding trips in Alaska. From there he moved south to the Pacific Northwest, where he has made his home in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Based there, he guides a variety of educational and adventure styled trips, running from Alaska to Mexico.
His passion for learning, shared travel experiences and enthusiasm for wilderness conservation are the hallmarks of his life and legacy.
Born and raised in the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix, Arizona, Josh learned quickly the value of wild spaces. He was lucky to spend his childhood exploring national parks throughout the country as well as the cooler climes of Northern Arizona and the Four Corners region. Monthly family getaways to the forests and canyons of the Mogollon Rim fostered a love of wilderness that strengthens to this day. Josh made his first voyage to Havasu Canyon in the Grand Canyon with his dad in sixth grade and blames ten days on the Colorado River in 2009 for his current obsession with the Grand Canyon.
Josh graduated from Arizona State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and geography with a minor in recreation and tourism. He has spent the better part of the last decade exploring the public lands of the Grand Circle, and, happily, the past five as a professional backpacking and tour guide. Josh is a certified Wilderness First Responder and enjoys creating safe, educational experiences and lasting memories for his guests in the outdoors.
When not hiking the Colorado Plateau, Josh enjoys snowboarding, climbing, canyoneering, spending time with family, and taking his dog Charlie on long road trips to beautiful locations in the western United States.
Kelly is a native Californian who resides on the central coast of California. She grew up in nature, spending summers with her family, camping and backpacking in national parks throughout California and Oregon. Kelly and her husband own a 1,200-acre ranch on the outskirts of the small town of Cayucos, where nature abounds every day.
As a wildlife rehabilitator and educator, Kelly has worked with Pacific Wildlife Care of San Luis Obispo county since 1983. She, along with her two educational ambassadors – a Red-tailed Hawk and a Great-horned Owl – does presentations for schools, service clubs and environmental events, teaching people about wildlife and the environment.
Kelly has guided trips in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Death Valley, the Eastern Sierras and Yosemite. She is passionate about traveling, discovering new places and sharing her knowledge of the outdoors with new friends.
Margaret "Meg" Halsey
From Utquiagvik (Barrow) to Ketchikan, Meg Halsey has devoted the last thirty years of her life to exploring all parts of Alaska and reveling in the wonders of the land. Her Alaskan journey began as a bus driver in Denali National Park, which was followed by a stint of managing hotels above the Arctic Circle in the outposts of Kotzebue and Deadhorse.
From there, Meg again moved on, putting a different set of skills to work in the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. She then pivoted and began working on movies, commercials, and, most recently, television shows that showcase the beauty and majesty of Alaska.
As is apparent, Alaska has provided countless opportunities for Meg to share this amazing state with others. Whether she was overseeing the operations for major tour operators or leading small groups of cyclists 800 miles up the Alcan Highway, Meg has dedicated her life to learning about and appreciating all things Alaska. When not at home in Anchorage, she enjoys traveling (and, in fact, has visited over seventy countries!) and loves spending time with family and friends who live out of state.
Marylou Blakeslee has spent the past twenty-five years sharing the beautiful and wild places of this world with adventurous travelers. From the Polar Bears of the Arctic to the penguins of the Antarctic, she shares her love and knowledge of the essential qualities that wilderness and its inhabitants give to us.
Marylou worked for twenty-three summers as a park ranger in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Educating visitors initiated her many presentations and visitors initiated her many presentations and conversations about wild and changing ecosystems. Her home in Alaska is complemented by her home in Montana. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, or Serengeti of North America, as it is sometimes called, provides the opportunity to study and experience a piece of North America as it was hundreds of years ago.
With an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, she continues to exhibit her paintings and photographs. She also records natural sounds and mixes them to create “sound paintings” with classical composer, Canary Burton. These sound art pieces have found an audience with young listeners.
Michael Wichman’s first trip below the rim in Grand Canyon was in October 2004 and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s passionate about the Southwest, and especially Grand Canyon, with a love of hiking, climbing, and paddling on and below its rims.
With a dedication to lifelong learning, Michael is an avid reader of all things associated with “Grand Canyon,” and geology, canyon inhabitants, and river stories are his favorite topics. He also loves meeting new people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and origins. He finds shared group experiences extremely enriching, especially when that experience is in nature.
Michael earned a B.A. in psychology from UCLA, where he worked with children with Autism. He also studied at Northern Arizona University, focusing on Environmental Science & Policy in the Southwest. Michael looks forward to the opportunity to share an adventure with you!
Patricia Thomson has had a broad environmental education career working for Parks Canada, British Columbia Parks, and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. Over the past 14 years, she was executive director of the non-profit Stanley Park Ecology Society, overseeing a team of fifteen conservation biologists and educators.
Patricia has been a wilderness river rafting guide and trip leader in northern British Columbia, Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, and has led more than 50 remote expeditions. She has also organized expeditions all over the world, from Belize to Bhutan and Brazil to the Beaufort Sea for National Geographic Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and UNESCO World Heritage Society.
Patricia was nominated to the Explorers Club and sits on the steering committee of Rivers Without Borders, which aims for sustainability in watersheds in northern British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.
Rich Kirchner has worked for three decades as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja, Galapagos Islands and the High Arctic, including Svalbard, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland, along with other destinations. His years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than one hundred books.
In addition to 80 expedition cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falklands, Rich spent almost two years working for the U.S Antarctic Program, including a winter at McMurdo Station. His travels during the austral summer stays took him to the remotest areas of Antarctica, like the South Pole, Mount Erebus, the Dry Valleys and Marie Bryd Land.
With a life-long love for the outdoor opportunities and wildlife found in the Rocky Mountain West, Rich has called Bozeman, Montana home for almost 50 years. Countless days of hiking, backpacking and photographing have taken him to parks and wild areas from Glacier National Park, to Tucson, with a heavy focus on Yellowstone National Park, The Tetons and Beartooth Wilderness.
Ross was lucky to have spent his childhood moving around and experiencing different parts of the world as his family moved from England to Switzerland to California. With all of the moves, one constant was Ross’s love for the outdoors, where he enjoyed sailing and mountain biking, and more recently rock climbing, backpacking, and mountaineering.
After graduating from San Francisco State University, Ross travelled in Asia for two years, where he stumbled upon a job as a rock climbing and sea kayaking guide in Vietnam. When Ross returned to settle in the U.S., he was drawn to the mountains of Washington and Montana, and spent summers leading trips with Outward Bound in Washington’s North Cascades in the summer and teaching skiing at Bozeman, Montana’s Bridger Bowl in the winter.
Today, Ross works for the Montana Wilderness School and spends his free time exploring alpine lakes, challenging his relationship with gravity, or plotting his next adventure abroad with his wife Theresa – who works at Off the Beaten Path!
Shelli Ogilvy is a true Alaskan, having grown up in a rural southeastern Alaskan town, separated from the road system, with glaciers, whales, bears and big mountains as her backyard. She still calls the state home, and has been guiding in Alaska’s wilds since 1997 and in both of the world’s polar regions since 2007.
With a degree in Marine Biology, Shelli has worked on many observational studies in Pacific and South Atlantic waters. She is a certified Master in Sea Kayaking, veteran Zodiac driver, kayak adventurer, and has experience in commercial and subsistence fishing.
Shelli is an accomplished artist and in 2009 published an illustrated bird book. She enjoys working on her cabin in Alaska, backcountry skiing, fly-fishing, and above all sharing the beautiful Alaskan landscapes with others.
Tom’s greatest joy growing up came from running around the woods of the northeast, sailing the New England coast, and traveling to the Bahamas. At twenty, Tom solidified his love of nature and adventure while hiking the northern 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail. A life of celebrating and caring for nature was unfolding.
After a degree in Recreation and Park Management with an emphasis on Outdoor Education from the University of Oregon, Tom spent his twenties as an environmental educator and wilderness guide. This included stints with Outward Bound, working in Yosemite National Park, and managing youth trail crews throughout the western states.
Shifting from education to advocacy, Tom spent two decades as a nonprofit executive and Board member for conservation organizations working in the U.S. Northern Rockies and Canadian Rockies. Based in Bozeman, Montana, his work focused on maintaining wildlife movement corridors and promoting coexistence between people and wildlife. On the side, Tom led small group travel tours in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.
After a seven month, thirteen-country adventure around the world, Tom began working in an international context. For eight years, he has served as executive director, fundraiser, communications coordinator and consultant for multiple nonprofits and social enterprises in the areas of economic development, environmental conservation, health, renewable energy and sustainable community development. This included time as executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
From his home base in California’s Monterey Bay, Tom is now combining his experience in land/wildlife conservation and adventure travel tourism into a best of all worlds (a)vocation. Tom enjoys the geographic diversity of Off the Beaten Path’s trips, for whom he has guided in Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, Yellowstone and Zion National Parks.
Nik Kendziorski is currently the Archives Manager at the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado. He has completed a B.A. in history from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan and a M.A. in American Studies from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. At the Center of Southwest Studies, Nik manages the photographs, manuscript collections, oral history collections and maps.
Nik has been working in the public history, museum and archives field for 20 years. He has worked in many areas of the West, including Hawaii, Wyoming, California, New Mexico and Colorado. He is a native of Fremont, Michigan and has worked at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids in Michigan, Old Town State Park in San Diego, the San Diego Historical Society, the Farmington Museum in New Mexico and the La Plata County Historical Society, Durango, Colorado.
Mr. Kendziorski has also led tour groups and families on adventures throughout the Four Corners region and worked on a number of Cultural Resource Surveys and National Register Nominations in the state of Colorado. He currently sits on the La Plata County Historic Preservation Commission and represented history and archaeology interests on the San Juan National Forest Resource Advisory Council until September 2016. He also served two three-year terms on the Bureau of Land Management’s Southwest Colorado Resource Advisory Council representing archaeology and history interests.
Mr. Kendziorski has contributed work to several publications including The Journal of San Diego History, the La Plata County Historical Society’s History La Plata, the San Juan Sampler: Selections from the Nina Heald Webber Southwest Colorado Postcard Collection, published by the Durango Herald Small Press and the postcard book Durango published by Arcadia Publishing.
Kurt traveled much of the United States before finally settling in Montana in 1970. He attended Montana State University in 1982, where he began guiding recreational and educational outings for camping, backpacking, river running, and Nordic skiing. After graduating with a degree in photography, Kurt turned to guiding and writing full-time. Over the years, he has guided many adventures for Off the Beaten Path, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Audubon, Sierra Club, Elderhostel, National Geographic Expeditions, Smithsonian and numerous private and public organizations. His writings appeared in a variety of local and national publications before applying all his efforts to guiding in 1999.
Kurt’s interpretive guiding expertise covers a vast and diverse area ranging from Waterton National Park in the Northern Rockies to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California, and from Olympic National Park on the Pacific Coast, to Mesa Verde and Arches in the Desert Southwest. He is a gifted naturalist, interpreter, and photographer who never tires of sharing his love of natural and cultural history. Kurt’s consummate outdoor skills, combined with a gift for storytelling and a great sense of humor. make his journeys unforgettable.
Kurt lives in Dillon, Montana, with his wife Eve and Cadbury the wonder bunny.
Eve grew up exploring the mountains and deserts of southern Idaho where her favorite pastimes were hiking, fishing, skiing, collecting insects and climbing the steep walls of the Snake River Canyon near the farm where she lived. She moved to Montana in 1980 and attended Montana State University in Bozeman, graduating with degrees in environmental science and geography. She has spent most of the last 21 years in the field as a soil scientist and resource specialist, mapping the soils, landforms, and plant communities of some of the most beautiful and remote wild lands in the West.
When Eve’s not tramping the mountains, shovel in hand, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, skiing and photography. Eve lives in Dillon, Montana with her husband Kurt, who is a full time naturalist guide, and a bunny named Cadbury.
Since completing a M.S. degree in Wildlife Science at Oregon State University in 1983, Steve has pursued a career that involves both intensive study of wildlife, and efforts to help others expand their understanding and appreciation of wild animals and wild places. Steve’s involvement in wildlife research projects has included studies of grizzly bears and elk in the Northern Rockies, tundra birds, wolves, bears, muskoxen, and caribou on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and brown bears on Kodiak Island.
Steve began working as a naturalist guide in 1987, and over the course of years has led countless trips through many of the West’s national parks. In addition to leading tours, he has instructed for the Yosemite Institute, Audubon Society, and the Wildlands Studies Program of San Francisco State University.
Steve and his wife, Betsy Robinson, co-founded and run a non-profit organization, Wild Things Unlimited, which focuses on studies of rare forest carnivores such as wolverine, lynx, and fisher, managing wildlife surveys related to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and conducting educational programs related to wildlife.
Steve’s favorite element of guiding is people’s reactions to their having made a new discovery about nature, be it eating a glacier lily, observing a wild animal they have longed to see, watching a grizzly bear sow and cubs frolicking on a hillside, or simply being overwhelmed by the beauty of a place.
Nathanael Dodge combines his outdoor interests, education, and hands-on experience to provide you with an exciting and well-rounded outing. Nathanael’s style of teaching is experiential, and in the field he excels at bringing geologic, natural, human, and cultural history to life.
Nathanael graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota with a B.A. in Social Science. In addition, he is a Wilderness First Responder, with lots of knowledge about backcountry safety and survival, and spent many years working as a crisis prevention instructor.
Over the years, Nathanael has guided trips to many of the West’s finest national parks and destinations – a list too long to mention – in the Southwest, Dakotas, Rocky Mountains, and Pacific Northwest. You’ll be fascinated as he talks it up about everything from dog sledding to Native American history, wildlife behavior to the inner-workings of a geyser, cactus to conifers, and bats to bison. Enjoy your time with Nathanael!
Raised and educated in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Leslie now lives in Big Sky, Montana, surrounded by the wild places that she loves.
Working for the National Park Service in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks in the areas of research and education for ten years provided a wonderful foundation for her career as a teacher and guide. Since the early 1990s, Leslie has worked for a variety of travel companies and non-profit organizations, teaching classes and leading trips in national parks and wild areas throughout the American West. Farther afield, she has led trips to Nepal, Bhutan, Tanzania, Botswana, Ecuador, and Mexico. Leslie also runs a non-profit with a mission to keep kids connected to the outdoors though scholarship opportunities for outdoor learning experiences.
Leslie’s passion for the wilderness inspired her to take several of her own immersive trips, including a three-week canoe trip in the Arctic Refuge, and several long backpacking journeys in Arizona, Canada, California and Montana.
Leslie’s ultimate reward is helping to instill in others a love of nature and wild places and the desire to preserve these wild places and the quality of life that they provide to us all.
John is former dean of the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences and Professor of Biology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. John is a long time resident of the Southwest and has a keen interest in the biology and geology of the Colorado Plateau, as well as its human history and cultures.
John’s photography has been published in several books, including Canyon Spirits: Beauty and Power in the Ancestral Puebloan World, and San Juan Bonanza: Western Colorado’s Mining Legacy. His continuing photographic interests include the flora and fauna of the high desert, archeoastronomy, rock art, and the architecture of remote historic and prehistoric sites.
John is an avid hiker, backpacker, and river runner who loves to share these passions with fellow travelers. Most Recently, John has left Durango and calls Santa Fe, New Mexico, home.
Patty became enamored with the West on a cross country bicycle tour, and moved to Montana in 1988. After earning her Geography degree at Montana State University, Patty developed a special interest in natural history and wildlife observation while exploring the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem on foot, bicycle and skis—and spending too much time with ecologist types like her husband, Jamie. She is a paramedic and makes her home in Bozeman. When she has free time, you’ll find Patty at the end of a climbing rope, winding on trails on her mountain bike, hiking, or taking all the beauty in with her camera.
A deep love of wildlife and ecological relationships has inspired Jamie Walton’s development as a natural history field guide. Formally educated at the University of Wyoming, where he studied Biology and Education, Jamie was an instructor and the ranch manager at the Audubon Ecology Workshop in the Rockies for a decade, and followed that as a manager for the Jackson, Wyoming-based Wildlife Expeditions, a natural history tour program for Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Jamie has since migrated to Bozeman, Montana where he lives with his wife, Patty. In addition to leading tours for conservation and education groups, including Smithsonian Natural Resource Defense Council, National Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jamie does wildlife research for the non-profit organizations Wild Things Unlimited, The Wolf Project, and Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation as well as working full time as a paramedic. And, in addition to being a wonderful guide, Jamie is a fine outdoorsman, bicyclist, and skier.
Melissa is a dynamic and enthusiastic professional naturalist/guide with over 26 years of experience leading backpacking, fly-fishing, rafting, hiking, natural history and cultural tours around the globe. She is also an accomplished photographer and enjoys helping guests capture exceptional images of nature and wildlife. So, whether exploring the arctic wilderness of eastern Greenland, the bamboo forests of central China, the nursery lagoons of Baja’s grey whales, or tramping around the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, you can be sure she has a smile on her face and is eager to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with you!
Drew Thate is a man of many outdoor-world hats! He is an avid fisherman and birder, with an extensive knowledge of Central and North American natural history and vast wilderness guiding experience in North, Central and South America as well as Russia. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, was a Park Ranger in Yellowstone National Park, a river guide in Costa Rica, as well as a tour leader of bird watching trips all over the world. Drew is a very capable and well organized fly fishing guide on the lakes, creeks and streams of Yellowstone National Park and on the Yellowstone River. Whether you’re with Drew for his naturalist, birding or fly fishing expertise, we are confident that you will enjoy your day very much!
Jen Shapley has been guiding tours in Alaska for many years, sharing her knowledge and love of the “great land” with travelers from around the globe. A year-round resident of Alaska, Jen received a B.A. in German from the University of Pennsylvania, taught school in Anchorage, and has guided travelers in many ways, shapes, and forms—as tour bus driver, tour director, and tour guide. Jen provides a wonderful mix of facts, legends and humor. She is an avid hiker, berry picker, cross-country skier and kayaker with a vast knowledge of local flora and fauna. Best of all, her passion for Alaska is infectious. You will be provided with an intimate view of this wild, big country that will greatly enhance your experience.
Fritz was born and raised in Switzerland. After high school, he engaged in an apprenticeship with a high-quality furniture maker, learning how to build customized hardwood furniture. Becoming a skilled craftsman himself, he decided to return to school to obtain a degree in Small Business Management in pursuit of his own woodworking business. After about ten years in the furniture making business, Fritz developed a yearning to explore different regions of the world. He traveled from Switzerland to North America, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, exploring ancient ruins, and learning interesting cultural aspects throughout the Americas. Seeking a wild adventure, he spent the winter of 1991 at the entrance of Denali National Park in Alaska. The wildness of Alaska became a part of him that winter and he has since lived in Alaska, working as a hiking and naturalist guide. He and his wife, Marianne, live near the entrance of Denali and operate Deneki Lakes Bed and Breakfast.
Raised and educated in the Northeastern United States, Owen found his calling as a guide deep within the towering cliffs of Grand Canyon National Park, where he works as a backcountry guide. With well over 8,000 miles logged there, he has been certified by the U.S. National Park Service in Search & Rescue, and often leads operations. Owen is also certified as a Wilderness First Responder, and is versed in a range of survival techniques.
Owen has traveled across the United States and to destinations around the world. With a love of the outdoors, Owen spends much of his free time hiking and climbing. He also loves reading, cooking, writing, playing guitar, and photography.
For over 20 years Amanda has lived and adventured with passion in the Grand Canyon area. Her choice to study at Northern Arizona University sealed her life-long love affair with the Grand Canyon and surrounding Colorado Plateau.
With beginnings in education, Amanda quickly felt compelled to leave the classroom and help people learn in the great outdoors to appreciate the lessons that nature has to offer. Nature has been her best teacher and classroom, having spent time working with native plants, archaeology, and with experts on projects in the Colorado Plateau backcountry. She has spent winters living and working at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and summers working as a ranger on the North Rim.
Today Amanda is a professional guide, leading interpretive hiking, biking, and multi-day backpacking trips and tours in the Southwest and beyond for groups of all ages. When not sharing her passion of the region with others, Amanda enjoys making art and travelling the world, finding new trails to hike and new rivers to raft.
Lynette’s love of the outdoors began at an early age with a semi-feral upbringing on her family’s dairy farm in Vermont. The mere fact that she was not often allowed inside helped to foster an intimate relationship with the wild world.
She received her bachelor’s degree in ecology with a minor in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, and has been fortunate to follow her passions for observation and exploration ever since. Lynette is fascinated by the complex ecology of predator-prey relationships and worked for many years as a research biologist, studying carnivores such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, bears and pine marten throughout the western U.S. and Alaska.
Lynette began leading educational adventure tours in 2008, drawing on her research experience to immerse travelers in the ecological and cultural spirit of an area. She makes her home on the Big Island of Hawaii, where she has taken up triathlons and the ukulele.
Drew Schlachter brings more than 20 years of guiding experience to Off the Beaten Path. Grand Canyon National Park has always held his heart, and he has hiked thousands of miles across Northern Arizona and the 4-Corners States. Drew has been fortunate to lead a variety of trips across much of America, from Alaska to the Desert Southwest, the Pacific States to the Rocky Mountains and beyond.
Drew has engaged in a variety of interesting professional experiences, including leading trail crews for the National Forest Service, film location scout, regional manager for tutoring programs on the Navajo Reservation, and a leader for student travel programs. He has also been an instructor for recreational therapy, wilderness therapy, challenge course, and numerous other educational programs.
Drew graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Recreation Management degree, and lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. In his spare time, Drew enjoys traveling, outdoor sports, reading, photography, and visiting friends and family across the globe. His passion for outdoor education and preservation shines through on his trips, and he looks forward to showcasing the amazing locations that you will visit with Off the Beaten Path.
Greg’s second home in southeast Arizona has allowed him to explore and hike many of the national park trails in Utah, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. He has also conducted years of avian research as a Master Bird Bander in the area. Greg’s career as park ecologist and superintendent, and his research background, can provide you with a unique opportunity to learn about the wild resources of the America Southwest. You will find Greg’s tours informative, thought-provoking and down-to-earth and he will leave you with an understanding on how the wildlife in this region has been able to adapt to this often harsh and arid climate.
Having lived in the Pacific Northwest and with his particular interest in nature, Greg has an intimate knowledge of the resources and back roads that lead to the special places of the area. His background as an ecologist and State Park Superintendent allow him to share insights on management of the wild resources we all want to see thriving. An expedition with Greg will expose you to the habits of birds and wildlife of the area, while learning how they flourish and interact in their natural environment. Greg will also provide you with insight into specific adaptations of different avian species based on his many years of work with birds as a Master Bird Bander.
Greg loves working with people and finds much joy in guiding. He is also passionate about helping travelers enjoy a positive, enthralling travel experience. Greg’s own travels have taken him kayaking through much of the Sea of Cortez and hiking a good portion of both, the western United States and western South America.
Jack is an energetic and enthusiastic naturalist who loves getting out into the great outdoors. He spent much of his career as an independent software and database consultant, but always made a point of carving out chunks of time to immerse himself in the natural world. He has since “retired” from the digital world, and now spends spring and fall in the mountains of southwest Virginia, returning to western Montana (his first love) for the wonderful summers and amazing winters.
Jack has a variety of experience studying mammals and guiding people. He is a graduate of the NOLS Outdoor Educator course and worked at Big Sky’s Lone Mountain Ranch as a naturalist guide, taking guests out on guided ski and snowshoe trips in and around Big Sky and Yellowstone National Park. He has worked with youth in backcountry settings in Utah and Colorado, managed citizen scientist groups in the field for coyote and grizzly bear studies in the Yellowstone area, and partook in wolverine studies in Glacier National Park.
Jack’s positive nature, commitment to whatever he’s doing, and enthusiasm is downright contagious. Jack is married and loves to get outdoors with his wife, whether it’s a day kayaking on the New River or a week backpacking somewhere in the Rockies.
Growing up in the Salt Lake Valley, David learned to appreciate the surrounding mountains and nearby desert at a young age. Fast forward to 2006—after studying zoology at Weber State University, he eventually ended up West Yellowstone to do some work on a family property. With a familiar affinity for West Yellowstone, and sights set on being a guide, David decided to stay.
David’s early guiding trips took him to Guatemala and to Peru, where he led a private trip to Machu Picchu.
Whether it’s hiking, biking, kayaking, and wildlife viewing in summer, or skiing or driving Yellowstone snow coaches in winter, David enjoys sharing time in the great outdoors and his knowledge about the wonderful area that he calls home.
Occasionally accused of being overly enthusiastic and animated, David’s love for nature and our country’s national parks comes through. He feels lucky to live where he does and to have a girlfriend who shares his passion for nature.
Hobie Hare lives in Missoula, Montana, which serves as base camp for his photography, writing, conservation, and adventure-minded pursuits. Hobie worked as an interpretive ranger in Yellowstone National Park ranger for eight seasons, including one winter spent in the heart of the park at Fishing Bridge, which he describes as “magical.” Hobie also spent six seasons as an instructor and naturalist guide with the Yellowstone Association Institute.
Hobie enjoys sharing his knowledge of, and passion for, the world’s first national park with people of all ages and backgrounds. Before becoming a park ranger, he taught English as a Second Language and first year seminar courses at Montana State University in Bozeman. He has also lived and worked in Costa Rica, Thailand, Japan, Venezuela, and Australia.
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WELCOME TO OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Bring your curiosity and come exploring with us!
WELCOME TO OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Bring your curiosity and come exploring with us!
NORTH TO ALASKA
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