The World Outdoors Purchased by Backroads in 2017
Backroads Founder & President Tom Hale, a California native, was first attracted to the back roads as a competitive runner in high school and at the University of Oregon, where he was a teammate of legendary runner Steve Prefontaine. After receiving 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: a middle-of-the-night inspiration to start an active travel company motivated him to embark on a 5,000-mile solo bike trip through the American West, all the while formulating plans for his new business. Hale eventually landed in Berkeley and began building his fledgling travel company. In true entrepreneurial fashion, he did it all, including designing the itineraries, maintaining the bikes, leading the trips and creating the catalog. His first trip, a bike tour in Death Valley, attracted four guests—one of whom was his mom.
Today, after 39 years of years of nearly consistent growth, Backroads annually hosts thousands of guests on Biking, Walking & Hiking, Multi-Adventure, Private and Family trips throughout the world. Backroads’ 225+ trip itineraries showcase the best lodging, dining and cultural encounters and the most scenic routes in places near and far, from the vineyard-draped hills of California’s Wine Country to the sparkling fjords of Iceland to the pampas of Patagonia.
Backroads is staffed by nearly 200 people in its Berkeley headquarters and regional offices in Utah, Canada and France, and also employs more than 500 Trip Leaders worldwide.