THE WORLD OUTDOORS WAS PURCHASED BY BACKROADS IN 2017
A native of Moraga, California, Tom Hale possesses a passion for two seemingly divergent interests—business and back roads—which he has powered into the world's #1 active travel company.
It was the back roads that first attracted him, as a competitive runner at Campolindo High School (where he still holds the two-mile record at 8:57.2) and at the University of Oregon, where he was a teammate of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine. Armed with a Masters in Environmental Planning from UCLA, Hale was six months into an environmental planning position in Las Vegas when the back roads called again—big time. A middle-of-the-night inspiration to start an active travel company motivated him to bike 5,000 miles alone through the West, all the while formulating plans for his new business. Settling in Berkeley, Hale washed fondue pots by night and built his fledgling travel company by day. In true entrepreneurial fashion, he did it all—designed the itineraries, maintained the bikes, led the trips, produced the catalog. His first trip—a bike tour of Death Valley—attracted four guests (one of them his mother.) Fast-forward to 2018 and 39 years of years of nearly consistent growth.
Today Backroads annually hosts thousands of guests on Biking, Walking & Hiking, Multi-Adventure, Private and Family trips worldwide. Their 231 trip itineraries showcase the best lodging, dining, cultural attractions—and of course back roads—in destinations from California's Wine Country to classic settings in France, from the pampas of Patagonia to the hill country of Thailand. Backroads is staffed by some 192 people in its Berkeley headquarters and regional offices in Utah, Canada and France, and also employs more than 500 Trip Leaders worldwide.