Growing up my parents had me involved in the boy scouts which got me into the outdoors. Without that I might have become an engineer, and be working in front of a computer full time. In college I applied for a summer job as a raft guide and my parents thought it was a joke, or at least thought I would learn my lesson after one summer. Twenty-plus years later, I guess the joke is on them! I changed my major from engineering to anthropology and became especially interested in Native Americans. Growing up in Colorado, the Southwest was close by, and it had such a rich history of native cultures, both current and ancient. I loved stopping at ruins along rivers in the area, and now I even search out pictograph sites on my scouting missions (and try to include them in our trips!). After college I moved to Idaho, and started working with ROW in 1999. What started as a summer guiding gig leading multi-day rivers led to being a river manager on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, and, eight years later, the Director of Operations for ROW. I loved the Northwest and the rivers that ROW ran, and especially the level of service that we offered. I felt that it allowed guests to be comfortable in nature and experience it with their family and friends. After leaving ROW to return to Colorado to be closer to family, I took a position with another adventure travel company that was leading more cross-country, road-trip style adventures. These trips showed me a whole other side to our country, and all the amazing places I had yet to explore. During that time I became much more patriotic, and while I am a traveler at heart, I realized that there is so much that I had not seen in my own back yard, America. Several years after my return to Colorado, I saw an opportunity at ROW to build out their new National Parks program. They wanted to offer different and unique ways to experience the parks, and I wanted to take my passion for the showing people America's amazing parks, while offering ROW's level of service, their sense of adventure, and their mission to connect people to the places they visit. I re-joined the ROW team in the fall of 2015, and created our first-ever National Parks tour, Southwest Unbound. When you visit a National Park there are some highlights that you just have to see. It is why the National Parks were created, after all, and why people flock there. You can't miss the Zion Narrows or the Hoodoos of Bryce, or peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon. When I sat down to start crafting up the tour, I knew I wanted to create a trip that encompassed these highlights, offered an experience that let our guests connect to the areas, and, when possible, see some of the highlights from a different, often less crowded perspective. Why did we choose to start in the Southwest? There are so many great National Parks in such close proximity in the Southwest, not to mention the rich native culture of the area that is a huge part of what makes it so intriguing. After hours of research, two trips, and over four weeks on the ground in the area, we fine tuned Southwest Unbound to be an experience that we are excited and proud to share with our guests. We worked hard to keep drives to a minimum, while still offering unique destinations, like the Tuweep access on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We wanted to offer some unique opportunities, and a real multi sport trip, so in addition to hiking we explore some slot canyons in Grand Staircase, hike in the river in Zion, and go mountain biking instead of sitting in a van on bumpy 4x4 roads. We are also working with both private and public lands to set up our Unbound Camps, which for many of our past river guests should remind them of our river camps. We want to provide a level of comfort so that guests can be relaxed and engaged with the environment that they are in. Plus, who doesn't like eating good food while soaking in the rawness of the wild? Add the amazing climate of the Southwest in the fall, with its warm days and cool nights, and it is the perfect combination! I'm looking forward to sharing my passion for the Southwest and America's national parks with our guests this fall, and beyond, and excited for what parks will be next in our National Parks Unbound lineup!