Visit the National Parks with us to learn, experience, photograph and be changed by the natural world
This is our ever-changing tour calendar. You'll notice we guide all over the western United States. This year we've ordered trips by place with links to the tour's sponsor for more information and to sign up. Which of us is guiding the mentioned tour is in parentheses. In some cases we are the second guide and will join the tour if participation rises over 8 people or so. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about a particular trip.
Hiking Utah's National Parks was a new trip last season and we've made it even better for the 2018 year. The tour's focus is to genuinely experience the backcountry of six select National Parks and Monuments while relaxing at night in the best hotels with the finest food. The tour achieves this by hiking/walking six to ten miles every day and keeping driving miles to a minimum while avoiding tourist laden pullouts and overlooks. So if you want to see the backcountry of these desert parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Zion, Bryce, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument), get a little exercise, and avoid most of the crowds this is the trip for you.
Zion And Beyond one of my favorite Off The Beaten Path tours and is very popular with our regular clients. The tour samples Bryce and Zion National Parks and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument along with a brief stop at Cedar Breaks National Monument if weather permits. The tour itself involves hiking/walking three to six miles most days, exact lengths and trails dependent upon weather and client abilities, and driving to highlights and points of interest. Interpretation of the complex geology and desert ecology is a big part of my Zion And Beyond tours while touching on settlement history with just enough background into current controversies. This tour is an excellent introduction to the desert southwest.
What can one say about Yosemite National Park other than you have to see it to believe it. Between it's fascinating geology, incredible vertical landscapes, waterfalls of all sizes and shapes and Yosemite's seemingly endless vistas, there is a surprise around every corner. This year's itinerary still includes a brief side trip to Sequoia National Park at least until Yosemite re-opens Mariposa Grove after much needed restoration. Of the two departures this year, both Eve and I will be guiding the earlier trip for Off The Beaten Path while I alone will be guiding a similar itinerary for the Smithsonian. Off The Beaten Path's departure will entail walks/hikes of anywhere from three to six miles, depending upon weather and participant abilities. Smithsonian trips tend to be a bit more sedate concentrating more on sightseeing and front country experiences.
Hiking Olympic National Park is another relatively new trip that I've been dreaming about for years. Olympic National Park contains some of the most diverse environments anywhere. This tour explores the only true temperate rainforest in the lower forty-eight states, mixed beach and rock seashores, montane spruce-fir forests, and alpine ridges overlooking the Pacific Ocean on one side and glacier topped mountains on the other. Honestly, this is hands down my favorite trip in the Off The Beaten Path Catalog. The trip entails hiking four to ten miles a day, except for travel days to and from Seattle, while keeping driving time to a bare minimum. Staying at oceanside Kalaloch Lodge and inland lakeside Crescent Lake Lodge means we only have to pack up twice and can concentrate on experiencing Olympic National Park. Late June is the ideal time to take this trip as we'll have the best wildflowers, best chance of good weather (it is rainforest after all), best bird diversity, and good chances for wildlife such as black bear and elk. People rarely think of Olympic National Park when contemplating a vacation, let us show you why Olympic should be at the top of your list.
Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks are home to the most extraordinary desert landscapes in the United States. More austere than the deserts of Utah, these two parks flaunt a complexity and severe beauty hard to describe in mere words. We must get out and experience it. Hikes/walks are generally between three and six miles, depending on conditions and participant abilities, over uneven terrain with rocky treads. We'll discuss how plants and animals adapt to this apparently lifeless environment, explore complex and colorful geology, and touch on the first human residents of this unforgiving, and unforgettable, land. Mid-November is generally comfortable for hiking and exploration. Wildlife and wildflowers are impossible to predict as they are dependent to a large degree on precipitation. There is still plenty to experience in this most desert of outings.
November 5-10 (Eve & Kurt)
Every trip, it seems, someone asks us where we travel by ourselves. Often this is followed by helpful advice, suggestions on where to stay or eat, or sometimes by an offer to meet up. Of course our personal plans are often subject to change but we thought we'd list our intentions here and thereby solicit helpful advice.
Late February thru Mid March. New Zealand's south island is where we'll be. We have reservations for three of New Zealand's most famous "Great Walks", Milford, Keplar and Routeburn. Combining those three backpacking trips will take about two weeks which will leave us another two weeks to poke around the remainder of the island. We've never been to New Zealand so other than seeing some incredible landscapes and unfamiliar plants and animals we have few expectations. We'll leave ourselves open for this experience.
From the Milford Track
July 1 - October 1. Kurt is going to be backpacking the 1200 mile long Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail between the Cape Alava in Olympic National Park to the continental divide in Glacier National Park. The route crosses nine mountain ranges, seven National Forests and three National Parks. If he averages a mere 14 miles per day it should take no longer than 87 days to complete ... but, hiking from one end to the other is his intention, not his goal. Kurt's goal is to put one foot in front of the other many, many times and truly experience this portion of the Pacific Northwest.