Lead On Me

Want to know where the pros go? Meet eight great guides who will take you to the heart of their favorite parks.

Jun 1, 2004
Outside Magazine
national park: Joshua Tree National Park

Monkey See..Monkey Climb: The crags of Joshua Tree National Park    Photo: Corel

Founder, Wild Basin Outfitters
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Conway is a crack high-country fishing guide who learned his craft as a kid growing up on Alaska's Kenai River. The 45-year-old mountain man will plop you on a horse and lead you six miles to Lawn Lake, at 10,789-feet, in search of the elusive greenback cutthroat trout. Come dinnertime, he'll also dish up a tasty tortellini and pour the chardonnay.
CONTACT: 877-525-7373, [email protected]
PRICE: $150 per person per half-day

Island Guide
National Park of American Samoa
West came to Samoa's five-island archipelago 24 years ago to start a plant nursery, met a Samoan woman, and never left. Bunk with the West family, in their cozy home on the island of Tutuila, and you'll snorkel among 200 coral species in the 9,000-acre park, take an octopus-spearing lesson, and learn from the master as he rattles off amazing facts about local flora.
CONTACT: 011-684-258-3527, [email protected]
Price: from $35 per person for snorkeling and kayaking, $25 per person for a rental house with kitchen

Wildlife Biologist
Isle Royale National Park, MI
A self-described "old moose," Peterson works at Michigan Technical University, where for more than 30 years he's studied wolves and their impact on moose populations in the 850-square-mile park. Earthwatch, a field-research institute, offers guided multi-day backpacking trips with the 55-year-old biologist, who will take you moose watching on rugged trails like Minong Ridge.
CONTACT: Earthwatch, 800-776-0188, www.earthwatch.org
PRICE: $895 per person per week

Founder, Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Bowling, 45, has been monkeying around on J-Tree's Flintstones-esque mounds of quartz monzonite for nearly three decades and can guide you up any kind of route you care to tackle. One of his favorites: the labyrinthine Wonderland of Rocks—with routes like 5.11b Poodle Smasher. "Seeing people learn to climb," he says, "rekindles my own love of the sport."
CONTACT: Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School, 800-890-4745, [email protected]
PRICE: $110 per person per day

Founder, Glacier Wilderness Guides
Glacier National Park, MT
Gayner founded Glacier's only hiking-guide service 21 years ago, so the former backcountry ranger is plenty intimate with the 700-mile trail network, the grizzlies that ply it, and other dangers, like a falling apartment-size ice slab that Gayner saw crash into a lake back in 1989. Gayner's favorite march: the eight-mile hike through Many Glacier Valley.
CONTACT: Glacier Wilderness Guides, 800-521-7238, www.glacierguides.com
PRICE: $487 for the three-day hut trip; $70 for a custom day hike

Co-Owner, Alaska Alpine Adventures
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, AK
Instead of flaunting his feats on big peaks like Denali, 35-year-old Oberlatz would rather show you around the backcountry: You'll spend five days hiking and kayaking in the remote Twin Lakes basin, where you'll paddle beneath the snowcapped Chigmit Mountains. "That moment when the plane leaves you and there's total silence—that's what it's all about," he says. CONTACT: Alaska Alpine Adventures, 877-525-2577, www.alaskaalpineadventures.com
PRICE: from $2,900 per week per person

Head Guide, Olympic Mountaineering
Olympic National Park, WA
Cameron has topped out on 7,965-foot Mount Olympus a mere 88 times. This summer he's shooting for his 100th summit. Meet up with the gangly 47-year-old guide at Glacier Meadows base camp and he'll help you cross crevasse- littered Blue Glacier en route to views of Rainier, Baker, and the Pacific.
CONTACT: Olympic Mountaineering, 360-452-0240, www.olymtn.com
PRICE: $295 per person

TIM AND DIANNE SHEW Owners, Balch Park Pack Station
Sequoia National Park, CA
These two Tennessee-born wranglers have spent the past 20 years riding the southern Sierra. Travel with them and their steeds to the deer-filled alpine meadows of Hockett Plateau, where 46-year-old Dianne, a published photographer, will drawl instructions on how best to capture the alpenglow off Vandever Mountain's 11,947-foot summit.
CONTACT: Balch Park Pack Station, 559-539-2227, www.balchpark.com
PRICE: from $175 per person per day