Phoenix hiking tours wins with Super team

by Laurel Darren, Wild Bunch Desert Guides • February 11, 2023

“Laurel set up a first-class mountain biking experience for us. We told her we wanted technical terrain with some tough climbs and The Wild Bunch delivered! (Our guide) was an amazing guide and a really strong rider. I would highly recommend Laurel and her team if you want a top notch, customized experience that will leave you with a giant smile on your face and wanting to plan your next trip to Phoenix to do it again.” – Keith Townsend, Georgia, on Google, Feb. 6, 2023

A Phoenix hiking tours group looks impressed by a Saguaro Cactus during a Wild Bunch Desert Guides adventure.
(TOP) A Phoenix hiking tours group looks impressed by a Saguaro Cactus during a Wild Bunch Desert Guides adventure. (COVER) Wild Bunch's founder & owner Laurel Darren flashes the No. 1 sign while visiting State Farm Stadium, site of Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Feb. 13.  

My worst fears have been realized in two different ways this week.

With the Super Bowl coming to town during the same time as the PGA Tour’s annual Waste Management Phoenix Open, an insane number of visitors have flooded into the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area.

Yet, while they are spending an equally insane amount of money on everything from flights to resorts/hotels and event tickets – as well as parties and uber rides here in the Valley of the Sun – many of the visitors have skipped exploring our beautiful Sonoran Desert with Phoenix adventure tours like mine.

And that disappointing bit of news is despite my Wild Bunch Desert Guides – along with some of our counterparts – refusing to raise their rates to take advantage of all those visitors.

Instead, some of us have even offered discounts in hopes of showing more and more people the best the old Southwest has to offer.

The $20 discount off solo or group half-day hiking tours runs through the end of our usual frantic February with Major League Baseball’s spring training starting next week. Simply use the code “supergolf” at checkout online.

However, as industry experts warned last month, Super Bowl and golf visitors could be skipping the extras this time with inflation impacting everyone’s wallet over the last year. There also is so much to do right now, the crowds are naturally split, which also affects the overall traffic for everybody.

This crazy time should be busier than it has been for my small mom-and-pop shop – but do not get me wrong, though.
The Wild Bunch appreciates the steady stream of guests who have experienced once-in-a-lifetime Phoenix hiking tours and Phoenix mountain bike tours with us this week.

And, the Wild Bunch schedule is completely sold out Saturday before the big game – and the rowdy final round of the golf tournament.

So, I am certainly thankful for those blessings. I am also grateful for anyone who decides to “fly with us.”

-Making any successes possible again is the greatest team of guides any Phoenix adventure tours owner could hope to have on their side.

I love them all for being part of a winning team regularly producing five-star rated reviews from our guests.

A Phoenix hiking tours group pauses in front of one of the iconic rock formations in the Sonoran Desert during a Wild Bunch adventure.
A Phoenix hiking tours group pauses in front of one of the iconic rock formations in the Sonoran Desert during a Wild Bunch adventure.? 

Why Phoenix hiking tours is Super
As a veteran guide and well-traveled tourist myself, I know the Wild Bunch Desert Guides is a great product.

I founded my small business by learning firsthand from the mistakes of the big box retail tours I worked for in our area, as well as those I experienced in other parts of the country.

For starters, the Phoenix hiking tours and Phoenix mountain bike tours from the Wild Bunch are completely private experiences for you and your family or travel party.

Never ever do we ask our guests to combine with another group – or include assorted strangers from all over the country – so we can free up a guide or two for a different tour.

Simply put, Wild Bunch strives for exquisite quality over the high-volume quantity you will find with other operators.

The Wild Bunch adventures are not a cattle call or bus tour you will find at the national operators. You are more than a booking confirmation number to us. We want to get to know your name – and we want you to know us, too.

The reason we get more personal than the big box operators is the Wild Bunch is all about customizing the experience for you.

So, we want to know what your skills might be, what level of fitness you have, and what are your biggest wishes on our Phoenix adventure tour with you.

We strive to fit our guests to the perfect trail to help produce a perfect experience.

And except for the clothes on your back, the Wild Bunch provides everything needed for tailored adventure – from backpacks, water and snacks on hikes to the bikes and bike helmets necessary for any ride.

Besides the guests, the most important element on any tour is the guide we provide, though.

Our Wild Bunch guides are medically trained to help keep you safe. They also are experts about the flora and fauna of the desert, and keep you on the right track to fun by showing you the way to all the best scenery for those memorable vacation photos.

A family enjoys one of the Wild Bunch's Phoenix hiking tours.
A family enjoys one of the Wild Bunch's Phoenix hiking tours.

Super people make Phoenix hiking tours
Rebel, Jay and Don are among the most trusted pathfinders for the Wild Bunch Desert Guides.

Those three have been with me from our humble start seven seasons ago and have become like family to me.
Their friendship, loyalty and support during the toughest of times is why I am still here.

Their flexibility and friendliness are also why my small mom-and-pop shop is still around, too, and continues to grow and thrive rather than simply survive.

Same for Matt, who has branched off into his own business, Mad Desert Trekking. Yet, he remains a cherished friend and guide and continues contributing to our success when extra business inevitably comes our way.

The current crew also includes incredible people like Henry, Dennis, Daisy and Wendy. They are all testaments to our incredible growth and symbols of what makes our Phoenix hiking tours and Phoenix mountain bike tours so super each and every day.

Without our guides delivering super service to our guests on the front lines? There are no five-star rated reviews from happy visitors on Tripadvisor, Google, Yelp or Facebook.

Without our guides offering home-spun hospitality to each and every one of our guests? The Wild Bunch would not see so many happy returners coming back to join us for another Phoenix adventure tour.

Without this super team of guides? There is no way the Wild Bunch wins over so many fans by making each and every one of our tours super.

About the Author

Laurel Darren is the founding owner of the Wild Bunch Desert Guides, a 5-star rated adventure tour company that offers guided hiking tours and guided mountain biking tours in Arizona’s picturesque Sonoran Desert in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Arriving in the legendary “Valley of the Sun” in 2012 -- from the home of John Deere in the Quad Cities of Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois -- this corn-fed Midwest girl brought 30 years of athletic chops under her chaps. A 3-sport high school standout and former college softball player – who won her conference’s Athlete of the Year award as a prep senior – Darren has graduated to competing in many races as an adult, from road running and cycling, to cyclo-cross and Mountain Bikes, and even Duathlon and Triathlon “Ironman” competitions. Darren was a popular, top-rated senior mountain bike guide at Arizona’s Outback Adventures before branching out to start her own small adventure business in 2016. To book a guided mountain bike tour or guided hiking trip – or a combination of the two adventures – please visit the home page or call 602-663-0842.


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