Backroads Founder’s Story

19 Responses

  1. Doug Beilfuss

    I will be going on my sixth Backroads trip in a few months. I have wondered how Tom Hale started Backroads. What a story! He is not afraid to work hard, or of the blood, sweat and tears it takes to start and maintain a business, The Backroads staff whom I have met on trips remind me of Tom. Not afraid to work hard and are enjoying the fruits of their labor. Thanks Tom and BR staff, you are all an inspiration!

    • Tom Hale

      Thanks Doug, You are so right about the Backroads leaders. They are pros at the work hard-play hard thing. I hope we can continue being “an inspiration” to you for many years to come. Best Regards, Tom


    First of all thanks for sharing your story on how you started Backroads, it is always interesting how businesses got their start.
    Another exsample is, Sam Walton ¨Walmart¨ the monster that it is now was started in as a small 5 & 10 store in Bentonville, Arkanas. Who would have thought?

    Thanks again for sharing your story.


    • Rodney–Although Backroads and Walmart are about as similar as oil and water, it’s always fascinating to learn about a company’s humble beginnings. Here at Backroads, we’ve proudly been sticking to our hearts and values since the very start. Thanks for your interest!

  3. Tom Jackson

    Hi Tom,
    I run a few helicopter skiing sites. It would be fun to get together sometime to share and compare. I’m in Danville. Let me know.

    Also, do you know my wife’s family, the Masiel’s, also from Moraga. Denise, Debbie, Doug and David all went to Camp.

    • Hi Tom–Thanks for reaching out on the BackBeat. I passed your comment along to Tom. You’re Heliski trips look incredible–sounds like you and Tom have similar passions! Best wishes.

  4. linda lipner

    Dear Tom,

    I had to write to let you know I am taking my 11 year old grandson to the Family Canadian Rockies camping trip this summer. It is hard for me to believe that my first trip with you was when my son was 10, in 1980! I thought I had better take my grandson while I am still spry!!!!

    Of course, the registration was delightful. Emily is amazing, and this is what I have come to know is always true with Backroads.

    Thank you for providing such a wonderful program.

    Linda Lipner

    • Tom Hale

      Hi Linda,

      So nice to run into you the other morning at Backroads. Wish we had more time to chat. It’s so funny how time stands still when thinking about others, but races by personally. I still see you with a 10-year-old–and I don’t mean your grandson!!

      Have a wonderful trip!

      Warmly, Tom

  5. Ashley Pacelli

    Hi Tom,

    My name is Ashley Pacelli, and I recently applied for a position with Backroads. You have always been a huge inspiration to me. Thank you for providing amazing adventure travel opportunities….and allowing people to “connect more authentically with the world.” For me, connecting with the natural world is the essence of humanity…and essential for the heart and soul. I have had the immense privilege of traveling to some incredible places, and I have people like you to thank for it. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I hope to be working with you and your incredible organization in the near future….and aspire to accomplish even half of what you have in your lifetime. Keep inspiring!


    Ashley Pacelli

    • What a beautiful way to describe the power of travel. Thank you for your note, Ashley. We have passed along your message to Tom and know he’ll be touched by your kind words.

  6. Jon Burroughs


    As a fellow business man and outdoor enthusiast (this is my 10th Backroads Trip and I always do EFI on every trip)you have my great respect for what you have accomplished and continued to do through your organization. We keep coming back because the service and experience is so consistent and that requires continual diligence and effort which many organizations espouse but few are able to execute on. I hope we shall have the opportunity to meet sometime for we share very kindred passions. Pedal on my friend.



    • Tom Hale Tom Hale

      Thanks so much, Jon. My mission at Backroads is to scale quality; whatever happens from there is icing on the cake. So, continued diligence it is! We’ll be sure to do everything we can to make your 11th trip all it can possibly be. – Tom

  7. Steve Philpott

    I thought I would drop you a note. It just seems like yesterday that my wife and I, along with Dave Wert, came up from Las Vegas to do one of your first bike tours through Napa. It really changed our appreciation for Food and wine. I remember sitting in your place as you wondered if you would make it through that first year. Susan and I need to join one of your tours again.
    Great to see your continued passion and success!

    • Tom Hale Tom Hale

      Hi Steve,

      So nice to hear from you. I can’t believe it’s been 37 years… still feels like a startup! Hope to see you and Susan on a trip soon.


  8. Bob hansen

    Hi tom,
    I occasionally see you riding through marin, since I live in Kentfield. One question for you: I worked with your brother John at verses nursery in mortgage, and he and I went up to humboldt state university so I could take a look at it. Nice guy! Where’s he at nowadays?
    Thanks, Bob

  9. Hi Tom, We found about about Backroads and have already earmarked very many of your itineraries which we intend to take for the rest of our lives after we retire in a few years. Your catalog contains many trips which will be on our Bucket List for active travel for decades to come. The top selling points which won us over are the logistics of the itineraries which allow for options for various fitness levels within a group for each day (“intelligent trip design”); the trip support; lodging; and also that the duration for each trip is not “too long”; and that we feel the trips are priced very well. We’re very glad for Backroads because frankly no other travel group in the world we’ve looked into can deliver experiences and support that can come even close. We hope Backroads will be here for another 40 years! There’s much to look forward to, and Thank You!

    • Hello Dana, thanks so much for your kind words! I’m really happy to hear that our trips and our style of traveling have provided you with a wealth of travel inspiration – we sure look forward to having you explore the world actively with us! Here’s to another 40. Thank you!

  10. Tom mentions somewhere up there that he ran an 8:57 two mile, the Campolindo H.S. record. I went to a nearly high school at the time, and it was huge news when he ran a 4:01 mile, which must also be a Campolindo HS record. Everybody in the area, in the other high schools knew about this Tom Hale guy–not just the track-and-fielders (I played baseball, didn’t follow track). But Tom, yes, everybody new of him.

    • Hi Grant.
      Wow, thanks for the ego boost! While I’m not as fast now, I’m more active than ever and enjoying every minute of it.
      Hope to see you out there on an adventure.

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