“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is fast approaching the 40th anniversary of the classic movie’s 1986 release. While I work hard – and juggle a lot of side gigs with the same fervor – I identify with the iconic film for a couple of reasons. For starters, I am a Midwestern native, growing up a short car ride away from Chicago and its suburbs, the setting for the high school hookie adventure. And like the main character, I believe in playing hard, too – sharing in Ferris’ motto that, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Which brings me to one of my latest thrill-rides …
Reviews of Wild Bunch Desert GuidesIf you have joined us previously for a guided adventure tour please leave us a review here. The Wild Bunch Desert Guides love when our hiking or mountain biking guests take the time on Social Media to share their pictures and submit open, honest, direct travel reviews as feedback.
The Wild Bunch Desert Guides are blessed to boast some incredible reviews from our guests on guided hiking or mountain biking tours over the years. Whether the reviews are written by individuals hiking, couples and families mountain biking, or organizations and businesses booking a guided adventure tour, the Wild Bunch Desert Guides are genuinely humbled by the kind words and are committed to continuing to live up to these glowing evaluations on every tour.
A small sampling of reviews from our guests is listed below along with the acclaim received from these assessments from several travel sites and industry outlets. The commendations range from the personal care shown in customizing an adventure, the expert guides carrying out those detailed plans, and the special hometown touches that ensure a unique, first-class experience for every hiking or mountain biking guest. The Wild Bunch Desert Guides consider the many compliments as a sure sign of the loyal and ever-growing customer base for which we are thankful and hope you will join soon.
Don was very knowledgeable and informative.
Thank you so very much for this review and being loyal to my company. I sincerely appreciate you so much!! Sincerely with a hug, Laurel Darren Owner
This was a great MTB ride and Don was an awesome guide. He did a great job of matching your skill level with the trails. Worth every penny for an avid mountain biker like myself.
Thank you so much for taking time to submit this review and your overview of Don. He is for sure one of my best mountain bike guides. I am so greatful you went out with my company and I sincerely appreciate and am greatful. Hope to see you again in the desert. Sincerely with a hug, Laurel Darren Owner
To Don and Jay, Thanks for 3 great days of hiking and mountain biking. Your desert knowledge and trail skills made it all a great experience.
Thank you so much for HAT TRICKING with us. I so, so, so much appreciate the loyalty and using my small business for your experience. Jay and Don are both spectacular guides and I am everyday greatful for their commitment to their work. Sincerely and thank you with a hug, Laurel Darren Owner
I had such a wonderful time during my hike with my guide Don. He was very kind, funny, polite and highly knowledgeable about the surrounding area. I will do it all over again anytime :)
Thank you so much for taking time to submit a review regarding your experience with Don on your hike. I am everyday greatful for the staff of excellent guides I have for Wild Bunch. Sincerely with a hug, Laurel Darren Owner
We were first time mountain bikers. Don tailored the trip just perfectly! It was a nice blend of adventure while being able to enjoy the beautiful sights around us.
You had our best guide for exactly what you said in the review. Thank you so much for taking time to submit regarding Don. He is by far one of our best mountain bike guides for people who are novice and want to learn. I so much appreciate this review. Very sincerely, Laurel Darren Owner
My guided mountain bike tour was more than I hoped for! My pickup at my hotel was spot on, my guide was knowledgeable and knew the trails well and a joy to ride with. Laurel has a 5 star operation. So happy I booked this memorable trip 😁
YAY!!! SUCCCCESSSS!! WOOOOOOOOOO!! Love this so much!! I am so happy you had the best day ever. Thank you so much for taking time to review your experience. Very sincerely with a hug, Laurel Darren Owner
Sarah & Jim F.
Fantastic morning ride with Don. He is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and an expert rider! Thank you Wild Bunch Desert Guides!!
I love to see this!! Don is exactly all the words you have used in this review. Thank you so much for taking time to write this. I really appreciate it. Very sincerely with a hug, Laurel Darren Owner
My brother had never been on a mountain bike ride in the desert, so while he was visiting - I called a top notch company - Wild Bunch - to give him a great experience. Not only was our guide "Don" knowledgeable about mountain biking, but also the desert plants and animals. Don observed our riding and adjusted the ride based on our skill level. It was an unbelievable ride, saw a coyote and a roadrunner. The mountain bike techniques Don shared, helped us maneuver the bikes and feel much more confident as we ventured through the desert. Plus we were provided with all the necessary equipment (helmet, backpack, gloves, water bottle, lip gloss ;-) to make this an enjoyable, exciting but safe experience. This is my second time with Wild Bunch and I would recommend them to everyone, at every level.
Thank you so much Christina for your loyalty and the opportunity for us to give your brother an experience. I appreciate that you took time to write this review. Don is very good and knowledgeable --he is the best when it comes to novice riders. I appreciate you!!! Sincerely with the biggest HUG ever!! Laurel
We joined Wild Bunch desert guides for a mountain biking tour. Top notch from start to finish. Our guide Rebel was friendly, very knowledgeable about the area and landscape and history, and quite entertaining. She was a lot of fun to be with. I would highly recommend doing any tours they offer. We will definitely be back!
Thank you so much for this amazing review. I appreciate the kind words regarding Rebel and I am glad you had a great time. Sincerely and I appreciate you, Laurel
We had a fantastic ride with Rebel! Booking our ride with Laurel was easy and she customized a great ride for us. We can't wait to ride again with Wild Bunch Desert Guides!
David, Thank you so much for the kind words regarding Rebel and your experience with us. We cannot wait to have you back. Thank you so much we appreciate you, Laurel
Wife and I did our first ever mtn bike ride with Don. What a great day and introduction to desert mountain bike riding. Experience was an absolute 10 for us and would recommend to everyone.
Thank you so much for this response. I appreciate the kind words regarding Don. He is a great choice of guide for a first timer-absolutley. Thank you so much for choosing Wild Bunch Desert Guides. Sincerely, Laurel
My wife and I are from NJ. We have been to the Phoenix area several times and drove by the desert, but never actually spent time in the desert and wanted to be able to appreciate it. We decided to take a guided hike in the desert so we could understand the flora and fauna. We did some searches to find the right tour for us. The Wild Bunch had just what we were looking for and had great reviews. Laurel did a great job setting us up and picking just the right guide to match what we were looking for. The reviews were right on. Our guide, Jay, customized our hike to just what we were looking for. Jay was great. He answered all of our questions and gave us a good perspective of the Sonoran Desert environment. He was congineal, knowedgeable and fun. We learned a lot and even tasted edible cactus. Our tour was at sunset and we got some great pictures to document our experience. We highly recommend Jay and Wild Bunch.
Thank you so much for this nice review. I really appreciate the time you took to write it. We hope you will come back and join us again in the future. Very sincerely, Laurel Darren Owner
My husband and I traveled to the Phoenix area in late March to visit longtime friends. Although my husband and I really wanted a mountain bike experience, our friends were a bit reticent. So, we opted for a hike. I was familiar with Laurel's business from some Facebook posts I had seen--and she also happens to have been a student in my English class twenty-five years ago!! I reached out to WBDG and began planning our morning adventure. Laurel has always been athletic, so I was confident in her skills to guide our group. After talking with her, we decided on an "out and back" two and one-half hour hike up the 302 Freedom Trail in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Perfect for the four of us!! We did lots of catching-up across the 25 years since our last real conversation while also learning about the mountain terrain. Laurel was an excellent guide, pointing out various desert plants and flowers and giving us some easy survival tips...just in case (ha!ha!). We learned a couple mountain hiking rules--like...who has the right away on a narrow path. Laurel brought waters and backpacks for each of us and was carefully watching everyone's level of fatigue and drive to move forward. We will definitely tour with Laurel again...next time...on bikes!!
Thank you so much for this review Mrs.Conrad-Curry. I never thought my senior year of high school I would be hiking with you in the Sonoran Desert someday. I appreciate all your support and this means a lot to me. Thank you so much!!! See you soon!! Very sincerely with a hug, Laurel
I took an out of town guest out for a beginning mountain bike tour with Jay. We had so much fun! What a great way to get out into the desert and see the giant saguaro cactus up close.
Thank you so much for this review of your adventure with Jay. I really appreciate it. Sincerely with hug, Laurel Darren Owner
I was blown away by how amazing Laurel and her team were. Our family of six lined our bike tours. We enjoyed gorgeous scenery, learned about the Sonoran Desert and improved our mountain biking skills with their amazing expertise. I highly recommend them for anyone!!! Soo much fun
Thank you so much for the amazing review. We are greatful you chose our company for your mountain bike experience. We take a lot of pride in making each tour the best ever for our guests. Thank you again for this. Sincerely, Laurel
Listen up! If you are in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area and want to have an amazing adventure, you seriously need to book a once in a lifetime experience with WILD BUNCH DESERT GUIDES! We had and absolute amazing mountain bike ride, filled with beautiful scenery, an incredible educational experience and absolute A+ guides! Owner and guide Laurel Darren, along with her experienced guide, Rebel, took us on a journey through the desert trails that were unforgettable! 100% professionalism. I highly recommend Laurel and her crew from Wild Bunch Desert Guides! You won't be disappointed!
Thank you so much for this amazing review. I really, sincerely appreciate this. This is a great way to let lots of people know how passionate we all are about our tours and the Sonoran Desert. Thank you so much Matt. I appreciate you. Sincerely, Laurel
Absolutely amazing tour, best thing we did on our vacation! We weren't sure what to expect on the equipment which would be provided but no shortcuts were taken. The company provided everything we needed. Don took the time to teach us the basics of mountain biking and adapted the tour to our level as our confidence grew. The support and encouragement was phenomenal, making the experience one to remember for a lifetime. As a small business, Wild Bunch went above and beyond and we absolutely recommend anyone to take a tour!
Thank you so much for taking time to write a review regarding your mountain bike experience. All my guides work hard to ensure the best time for each group we take privately. This is an awesome way to let others know exactly how we do things and I appreciate you and am greatful. Thank you for the kind words regarding Don. Thank you again for choosing Wild Bunch Desert Guides. Sincerely, Laurel
Laurel and her team is absolutely amazing!
Thinking about scheduling a hike or bike ride with Wild Bunch Desert Guides, just do it and you won't be disappointed. My 15-year-old son wanted to do something different for Christmas Day 2019 and I am glad that we did. Even though he finished the trail ride, and I did not, we still had quite a memorable experience with Laurel and Tommy, company owner and lead instructor for the tour, respectively. They are second to none if you're serious about having the adventure of a lifetime.
The hubs and I took off for a day of ‘first time’ hiking not knowing what to expect. We met Laurel as our guide for the day and she welcomed us with the biggest smile ever. Listen, she treated our concerns/fears as if they were her own and she went out of her way to make us feel secure and safe while navigating through the complexities of Camelback Mountain. We had a blast! She even took us on an impromptu walking excursion at the end of the hike. Because of Laurel, the owner of the company, hiking is something we look forward to doing again. Sidenote: She has a beautiful and thoughtful way of exchanging authentic communication while climbing that makes you forget you're on a mountain. She's a Rockstar! If you've never hiked before or if you're a seasoned hiker that needs a guide, do yourself a favor and book with The Wild Bunch!
Our company hosted this non-traditional (i.e. not golf) mountain bike bonding experience with important company relationships within our industry as our guests. The Wild Bunch did an outstanding job of making sure everyone had a fantastic experience and thus a positive reflection on our company. Can't recommend them highly enough. They are GREAT!!!
I had an amazing desert mountain biking ride with guide Rebel. She was so knowledgeable about the history of the area and was able to tailor the difficulty of the ride to my ability. I was pretty exhausted after the ride -- but in a really good way. I highly recommend using Wild Bunch Desert rides. Highlight of my stay in Phoenix.
We had a wonderful time with Rebel and Paul! They were both very informative and had some great stories. Just a ton of fun!
SO MUCH FUN!! We are road cyclists and were a little concerned about our first mountain biking adventure. Our guide, Paul, did a fabulous job of easing us into it! Then he customized our 2-hour-plus adventure as we became more comfortable with the trails. The views and trails were quite memorable. If we come back to this area, we’ll definitely do another tour with Wild Bunch!
Matt was our tour guide and he was outstanding. He was very flexible, accommodating and patient. He made sure we were comfortable and going at our own pace, while also giving us some history and background about the area. Make sure to be well rested and hydrated when booking this tour. You also do not need a lot of experience mountain biking to be able to enjoy this experience.
We had a FANTASTIC experience with Wild Bunch! We were in Scottsdale for our twin boys' 13th birthday and one of our boys is obsessed with hiking and hunting for reptiles. On a whim, we arranged for a dusk hike and we were SO grateful we did this! We received a recommendation for Wild Bunch and Laurel immediately called me to set up the hiking plan. She took into account my son's interests and made sure that this birthday hike was extra special. Jason was our guide and he could not have been more spectacular! Patient (my son had a MILLION questions), kind, knowledgeable -- he was fantastic. And even brought birthday cake for the boys once we reached the summit! Thank you so much Laurel, Jason, and Wild Bunch!
We had an all-around great experience and I would highly recommend this tour to any new or experienced mountain bikers. Gabe was a fantastic teacher and chose trails that perfectly matched our skill level. He took us on intermediate trails that we otherwise would not have attempted, but we handed them well and it was a good challenge. He is clearly very experienced and would also be a good guide to experienced bikers new to the area. Laurel was very nice and communicative before and after our tour. The bikes were in great shape and rode smoothly. We left feeling excited and empowered to continue mountain biking as a hobby!
Mountain biking was the highlight of our Girls Trip to Arizona. The owner Laurel was so friendly, fun, safe and customized the ride to our ability. She made it FUN!! Super encouraging … I can’t wait to take my family!! If you want to experience something new and live your best life, I highly recommend this experience!!
Thank you Laurel and team for a beautiful early morning hike and breakfast for our group at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve! The Wild Bunch team is very CoVID conscientious, knowledgeable of the area, and a lot of fun! Would definitely book a tour with them again.
Peter and I feel so lucky to have spent our morning with Jason! He was personable, full of fun facts, kept us on track and safe. We loved getting to know you Jason, thank you for a great experience!
I recently had foot surgery and am still recovering but wanted to do a hike with my daughter on our visit to Arizona. We had the great joy of hiking with (Wild Bunch Desert Guides) on a 2½-hour hike through the Sonoran Desert. Not only was our guide understanding of my slow pace and incredibly accommodating, he also is an incredibly intelligent young man. As people from the East Coast, my daughter and I really didn’t know much about the local landscapes, so we loved learning throughout our hike. … Our guide also was very respectful of the ongoing pandemic and ensured that he wore his face mask throughout our hike, provided us with hand sanitizer, and maintained the appropriate distance. We really cannot say enough wonderful things about him and the experience he gave us. We can’t wait to come back to Arizona and book with Wild Bunch again!
We had an amazing experience hiking with our guide Jason! He was so knowledgeable about all the local plants, animals, mountain and trails. He went above and beyond and even surprised our daughter with cupcakes and candles for her birthday on top of the mountain! The Best!!!!
Mary Beth V.
My husband and I were celebrating (our) anniversary in Scottsdale and were looking for some outdoor adventure, not too far from our Doubletree resort in Paradise Valley. The concierge recommended mountain biking with Wild Bunch, and I was sold after having spoken with Laurel, (the) owner/manager. Her enthusiasm and helpfulness made all of the difference! We booked the (90-minute) ride and had an outstanding guide, Don. He had such a fun personality and was certainly an expert when it came to the terrain and rules of the 'road.' He challenged us while allowing us to enjoy the scene as much as possible. He helped in taking pics and videos of us. The bike, gear, snacks, and just everything was tops. Wild Bunch goes out of their way to make it an incredible, memorable experience!
Tommy was our guide and he couldn’t have been nicer. Extremely knowledgeable and very cognizant of our (lack of) skill level. He challenged us enough to make it FUN without pushing us too far. My teen daughter absolutely loved the experience and will now take up mountain biking back home. Great opportunity to experience the desert close up. Thank you for an excellent experience.
Mark the guide for my solo ride was awesome! Made the perfect ride for what I was looking for -- great challenge and great views. I would recommend this company for all levels. We had done a family ride the day before with Laurel -- also awesome, very nice experience for the entire family. Nice bikes and great views!
Laurel took my husband, my 10-year-old son & I out for a mountain bike ride … and we had a great time! We all like to ride but not all of us are super-skilled riders. Laurel picked a great trail for us where we all felt comfortable and just the right amount challenged. Can't wait to go back!
Amazing company and experience! Hubby and I sit at desks professionally and I was apprehensive about (the) trip. Our guide Matt was focused on making sure we enjoyed our experience and kept things at just the perfect pace. Beautiful, fairly-flat terrain; we really felt we could enjoy the desert first hand and try something new. Bikes and gear were in top shape. I had messed up the date of the booking and owner Laurel went above and beyond finding our guide Matt, who had the morning scheduled off. Truly cannot say enough good things about the professionalism, dedication and passion of this crew.
We are repeat customers (2018 & 2020) with our 10-year-old son. A perfect family activity/memory. Always the highlight of our trip!!!
I did two guided trips with the company and give them the highest possible recommendation. Friendly, personal, safety conscious yet tons of fun, great equipment, everything provided, red-carpet treatment. Can't wait to come back and tour again with the Wild Bunch!
Could not recommended Wild Bunch more and will be back (with friends!) to support this awesome female-founded business! Laurel is a true professional and my guide Tommy was a certified instructor. I had an amazing ride and improved all of my technical skills. So much fun!
Based on good reviews here, I signed up for a half day hike with Wild Bunch. Signup was pretty easy on their website and Laurel, the owner, reached out quickly to confirm and to chat about what kind of experience we were looking for. They will cater to your needs and interest. Met our guide Matt at the trailhead. He was a great guide - knowledgeable, personable and easy to talk with. All important traits especially as we were together for almost four hours. Learned a lot about the desert, the vegetation, animals, etc. Plus got in a bit of exercise. I recommend and would utilize them again!
The owner Laurel Darren is awesome -- best guide around. If you want to do Camelback, which is really, really, really hard (Double-Black Diamond). Call Wild Bunch and listen to Laurel. She brings backpacks with water and treats. Great guide that we have used several times and we will call her when we come back.
Great trip in Papago Park for my 18-year-old daughter and I. Having little mountain bike experience and my daughter even less, Jay (Guide) made it easy, but not too easy. It was a perfect introduction to single-track riding. We will book again, but next time will chose the half-day option ... we can't wait. Also, super easy to call the company, set up ride, and they bring everything you need.
Laurel was very accommodating in putting together a hiking tour for my friend and me. Excellent communications during planning and Matt, our guide, was able to customize the hike on the fly to our somewhat limited capabilities. Matt provided light backpacks, water (we also brought some), snacks and I'm sure he had a first aid kit and other items, though we didn't need them. All we really had to bring was our hiking shoes, sunglasses and suntan lotion. He made the hike interesting and informative. I'd gladly book another outing with Wild Bunch Desert Guides the next time I'm in the area.
My wife (and I) were in town for a family event, and she surprised me with a guided mountain biking tour (I’m a New England biker, and have always wanted to try some desert riding). We have very different experience levels, but despite that, the guides Tom and Gabe were able to select a loop of trails that not only bridged our experience gap and gave us both good excitement and challenge, but also showed us some of the prettiest parts of the Sonoran Desert. Good equipment, great guides, awesome experience.
Spent the morning with guides Kayla and Tommy hiking from the Apache Wash Trail. Both of them were energetic, professional, friendly and knowledgeable. The hike was moderate and just the right level. Guides provided everything. Drive to trailhead was reasonable. Views were National Geographic quality. I loved it :) It was the perfect way to spend the morning and allowed us to spend the second half of the day at the Heard Museum, which was gorgeous.
Laurel and her team helped us to do an incredible custom mountain biking trip in Arizona. Before the trip, they offered judicious advice, taking in account our interest and their knowledge of the terrain. During the trip, they were friendly, professional, in fact, perfect on all aspects. Safety was their priority and we felt in good hands. We did the Black Canyon Trail in two days and two segments of the Arizona Trail. They made our trip possible and memorable. I highly recommend them and would hire them again for a next trip in Arizona.
My son and I wanted to do a bit of exploring around Scottsdale by mountain bike. Laurel helped us arrange a great ride at our convenience. She had awesome bikes which were perfectly sized, cold water bottles and backpacks, gloves, helmets, literally everything. We just showed up and rode. She catered to our experience level, took GREAT pictures of us, and truly couldn't have given us a better morning of exploring. I will absolutely schedule again with Wild Bunch Guides anytime I'm in Phoenix, and I'd recommend them to anyone who'd like an outdoor adventure. You'll get experienced, personable guides who will make you feel comfortable no matter what adventure you've chosen!
Laurel took my son and I mountain bike riding on a Friday morning. She was extremely encouraging to my basic skills and lack of fitness, while entertaining my son with lots of knowledge and fun chatter. She had every single thing we could need. We just showed up with closed-toe shoes, and she provided bikes, gloves, helmets, iced water bottles, a backpack to carry an extra bottle, and post-ride cold drinks. I can't recommend Laurel and the team any more highly!
We recently hosted a customer appreciation event in the Scottsdale area. We were looking for an alternative to golf and our resort concierge recommended hiking with Wild Bunch Desert Guides. I highly recommend using Wild Bunch -- Laurel did an excellent job with the logistics and staying in constant communication during the hike planning. We ended with a group of 30 hikers and we chose the Quartz Ridge Trail. It was perfect -- excellent views, a nice, moderate 3-mile hike, and 100-percent satisfaction with our customers. I appreciate that the guides provided the packs, water, and snacks. Thanks so much to Laurel and her team -- we will definitely be back!
We hosted a group of 20 corporate VIPs for an early morning ride before an annual industry conference and we always get RAVE reviews on the experience -- and we owe that to Laurel and the organization behind making it happen. We have a wide range of riders and the Wild Bunch Desert Guides do an amazing job at gearing us all up and putting us on a path for everyone to enjoy -- regardless of skill and comfort level. We're planning to return for a third year in a row -- HIGHLY recommend this ‘gang of bikers.' They'll have you hugging a cactus before the day is done. This is an outstanding tour operator. Highly skilled, safe and super contagious in their passion about the outdoor experience!
I'm a female lone traveler with zero desert hiking experience, so I was very glad to find a company that offered solo guided hiking tours. I had a great time with Jay. He was friendly and knowledgeable, and he kept me safe from colliding into the mountain bikers, I was so distracted and captivated by the beauty of the desert and all of the cactuses.
Matt was our guide. He did an excellent job of judging our fitness and our level of interest in information about the area. He was very willing to answer questions. Best of all he gave us a great hike that we could not have done or fully appreciated on our own. The pace was not too slow or too fast and was a little bit challenging all the way. He was well prepared and brought all the supplies we needed. I showed up with only good sneakers and a hat. Someone let on that it was my birthday and when we got to the summit, he even had a birthday snack for me. I like doing tours while traveling and this was a good one. Well worth it as a private for two people. I would do another one of their tours or a second route on this same Sonora Desert hike through Squaw Peak.
I spent the day adventuring with Laurel. She is super fun, personable, engaging and a straight shooter. She is on the ball at tall times. We experienced things today one could never imagine. Excitement follows her. You will not regret hiring Wild Bunch for your adventures.
I can't begin to describe my love for Wild Bunch. From my first point of contact with Laurel to the end of my hike, the service was AMAZING! I traveled on business but wanted to see some of the scenery that Arizona has to offer. I was not only lucky enough to have Matt as a guide, but was able to meet and hug Laurel, as she also met me at the trailhead. I had an absolute amazing time with Matt. He was so knowledgeable about the desert and made the trip so much fun. So much so that I tried to figure out a way between business meetings to fit it another hike. They were both also able to help me navigate my entire trip -- filled with amazing recommendations for dinner and things to do. I feel like we are all friends now!
What a spectacular morning! With Matt as my guide, we covered almost five miles of desert landscape. Matt was very knowledgeable of the cacti and wildlife that call this area home. We even saw jackrabbit, coyote, and several bird species. Just a great experience and one I’m happy to recommend to others.
Laurel was absolutely amazing, giving us all the insight and local tips, which were extremely helpful. She runs a really great operation and can't thank them enough for squeezing us into their busy schedule last minute. No corners were cut and everything is really well thought out. … I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone. They greatly impressed me with both their customer service and integrity to do things right. The Black Canyon Trails are lucky to have this business and Laurel around.
Kent & Lisa L.
We chose Wild Bunch Desert Guides for a mountain biking excursion during our recent trip to Tempe, Arizona. We contacted Laurel a couple of months before traveling, and immediately knew we had chosen correctly. She responded immediately and kept us updated on our ride status up until our trip. The whole experience was perfect from start to finish. Our group consisted of two experienced roadies and a couple that has limited cycling experience. Laurel took us on a ride that fit our group perfectly, providing challenge while matching the technical abilities of everyone. When we arrived, our bikes were setup and ready to roll. She provided everything we needed and the equipment was top notch. She taught us how to ride different terrain, stopping to give us tips when the trail got a bit more technical. Her knowledge of the desert is awesome and our water breaks were super informative -- we learned so much about the Arizona desert. We even got to eat some cactus! Laurel's love for her job and company are apparent. It would be difficult to imagine we could have found a more positive and genuine guide. Thanks Laurel! Our ride with you was the highlight of our trip!!!
Laurel came highly recommended to us by another family that has repeatedly used her when visiting Arizona from the East coast. We were a mixed group of two families of parents with older teens. Laurel was a great communicator, explained charges, areas to explore, sent emails confirming, answered all text questions and even helped with area questions we had. She went well beyond and that's what makes dealing with a smaller company so much nicer. Her staff was spot on judging people's skill levels and made all feel comfortable no matter their strength or weakness. Good sense of humor with great knowledge of the area. We traveled off the ‘popular’ crowded paths, moved at a great pace and got all the great views and workout. We both hiked and mountain biked. Our group was even able to split in two to allow the more experienced adventurous ones to do more so no one held back. A great outfit that can really work with novices and advanced die-hards.
I met Laurel of Wild Bunch Dessert Guides in June 2017. We were both on the crew supporting an ultra-bicyclist in the Race Across America. Laurel is a fellow Iowan and we bonded quickly over that and over our love of the outdoors. I liked her outgoing and adventure seeking personality right away. In the 3000 miles of the Race Across America, (an endurance bicycle race from Oceanside, CA to Annapolis, MD) lifelong friendships are forged and sometimes lost. I know that Laurel will be a lifelong friend. Laurel’s outdoor experience is vast. She’s a seasoned hiker and cyclist (of all types): road bike, mountain bike, single speed, fat bike, and she “gets” what it takes to work with people of all experience and capabilities. She is also an excellent guide and is very perceptive as she listens to what “her groups” are interested in whether it be bike or hike! Her primary focus in planning hikes or bike rides, is to make things fun as well as safe, at the same time taking care of and respecting nature. I love hugging cactus with her! She is well respected among her peers and she is called upon for support not only to race herself, but to promote, volunteer and crew for many different types of athletic events. Laurel also has an excellent rapport with people of all ages. She has taught hiking and riding skills to both young children and the elderly, and every age in between. Her ability to communicate with a variety of people is what inspires them to “go for it” and meet their challenges and exceed their dreams whether it’s biking or hiking or taking on a new adventure. I look forward to taking many more exciting adventures with Laurel!
We climbed Camelback with Ellen! She was outstanding! She was waiting for us just as she stated and had everything we needed for our trip. She explained everything along the way and gave us all the encouragement we needed for our first climb. Truly an outstanding experience!
I traveled to Scottsdale/Phoenix for work and realized I had a free morning. I spoke to our hotel concierge and she recommended Wild Bunch Desert Guides! The hotel reached out to them and the owner called my cell very promptly to plan our adventure. You can tell that Laurel loves what she does and she is a fantastic business owner and guide! She picked me up at 6:30 a.m. at my hotel and we went and hiked Camelback Mountain! She provided me with water and snacks, she made sure to brief me on safety and we took plenty of water breaks. I would highly recommend this guide company to anyone. They also do mountain biking tours which I want to do next!
Laurel, Ellen and Tommy didn't just guide us, they hiked with us, and after four hours we felt as if we had made new and wonderful friends. They were also attentive to others on the trail, checking in with hikers who looked like they might need assistance and offering guidance to a mountain biker who had gone astray. These hikes were the highlight of our trip and truly I can't say enough about the experience. Pricing is more than reasonable and frankly the opportunity to spend time with these experienced guides -- Priceless!
My sister and I had the opportunity to hike with Laurel and members of her amazing team. We were first timers to the Scottsdale area and Wild Bunch Desert Guides were recommended to us. We did two wonderful hikes, Gateway Ridge and Spur Cross in Cave Creek. Laurel could not have made this any easier--hotel pick up, narration about the trails, the area, plant life, and she was fully stocked with water and snacks. For me though, what makes WBDG so exceptional is the work on the front end. Laurel was rigorous during booking--what did we want, what was most important, our assessment of our own skill level and then her follow-up questions. Everything was geared to us and for us. Laurel, Ellen and Tommy didn't just guide us, they hiked with us, and after four hours we felt as if we had made new and wonderful friends. They were also attentive to others on the trail, checking in with hikers who looked like they might need assistance and offering guidance to a mountain biker who had gone astray. These hikes were the highlight of our trip and truly I can't say enough about the experience. Pricing is more than reasonable and frankly the opportunity to spend time with these experienced guides -- Priceless!
Loved it so much, I booked a hike for the next day with another guide, Ellen, who guided me through Cave Creek. She was excellent! Would highly recommend this service to anyone, no matter what your level of experience is.
We were picked up for a mountain biking and hike adventure with Laurel as our owner/guide. She was very informative about the terrain and landscape and Scottsdale in general. She gave us a brief and thorough review of our bikes prior to setting out. Then we just had fun riding through the trails of Brown’s Ranch. Once my boys got the hang of it, they thrived and loved it! So did I! I could have ridden all day long. Laurel was an enthusiastic and personable guide. I recommend Wild Bunch next time you're looking for a mountain bike or hiking guide.
We had an amazing time with Wild Bunch Desert Guides on our hike up Camelback Mountain! At the beginning of the hike, I told Laurel I was 16 weeks pregnant and my husband had some knee issues, so she made sure to find the best routes for us and to make sure we were going at a safe pace. I am so glad we hired a guide to tackle this hike and would highly recommend anyone else to do so also!! It doesn't hurt that Laurel was super fun to be around, too, especially when the hike got a tad bit tough!
During our company offsites, we usually plan an activity for those that are interested. This year it was mountain biking and it far exceeded my expectations. The Wild Bunch staff (Laurel, Eric and Rebel) were great. They were very knowledgeable and a lot of fun. We took it easy for the first part of our ride to get everyone familiar with the terrain and bikes. Speaking of the bikes, they were much better than I expected. For the second part of the ride, we broke off in a separate group that wanted a more challenging ride. We had a blast and were able to really push ourselves through some challenging terrain. I would love to do it again. I highly recommend the Wild Bunch!
Our geographically-distributed company meets in a unique location each year. This time, we wanted to experience the Sonoran Desert. On the recommendation of our resort concierge, we booked a trip with Laurel and the Wild Bunch Desert Guides. What a great pick! From our initial contact months before the trip, Laurel was very responsive, a pleasure to work with, and it was clear she was passionate about providing a memorable experience. Laurel picked the 14 of us up at the resort and immediately established a fun and high-energy rapport with our group. She was great at reading the group dynamic, making us all feel comfortable, and reminding us that we were out to have some fun. Upon our arrival at the trailhead, our bikes and gear were equipped and ready per our specifications (including SPD pedals for those who requested them). All the gear was in top shape, and we were able to hit the trails quickly. I had initially been concerned that riding might be more "nose to tail," frustrating our more beginner and advanced riders alike. Fortunately, Laurel and our two guides, Rebel and Eric, did an awesome job of allowing the group to naturally separate a bit so that we could ride at our ability while also intermittently meeting up so that we could enjoy the experience together and shuffle up the groups. Along the entire ride, our guides were cheerleaders, support crew, comic relief, and naturalists. They did a great job of assessing each riders' experience and adjusting and making recommendations accordingly. Laurel's passion for riding, for the desert, and for providing everybody with a great experience was exceedingly evident and made for a memorable afternoon. It was a perfect way to experience the Sonoran Desert. I would not hesitate to recommend Wild Bunch!
Took a half-day trip with Laurel through some amazing trails near Scottsdale. Being from the UK, I struggled a little with the heat -- luckily Laurel had packed some Cadburys chocolate for the ride which was only a little melted and gave me a great boost. Great scenery, great bikes, great energy. Book with Wild Bunch Desert Guides and bring your cycling A game!
On a recent trip to Phoenix, my wife, daughter and I signed up for a desert walking tour experience with Wild Bunch. We weren't sure what to expect, but the Tripadvisor reports were excellent and the person I spoke with, Laurel Darren, is the owner and clearly loves what she does. We are not outdoor adventure-type people, but this experience was well beyond our expectations. First is her emphasis on safety and health concerns and what to do in case of the unexpected. Second, she has an uncanny ability to move at a pace that meets the capabilities and comfort levels of the client. Third, her knowledge of the terrain and the area is extensive! Moreover, she is a delightful person with some terrific stories and makes the experience very enjoyable. The day we went, oddly as it may seem, was cool (60s), but normally plan to go early. This is a small independent operation, so you don't get a corporate feel when going out (like a cookie-cutter experience). It is specifically tailored to you and your interests. We cannot recommend Wild Bunch strongly enough. Whether you are only an ‘occasional morning stroller’ or experienced climber, the Wild Bunch team will ensure your experience is memorable.
We go mountain biking in Arizona every year. There are two things we look for -- a challenging trail appropriate for our family, and an amazing guide. Laurel is an amazing guide we have worked with previously, and we couldn't have been more excited to support this business she is growing. Why was this excellent? We had full trust that she would pick a trail that fits us (started at Tom's Thumb and ended 21 miles later back at Tom's Thumb), and she knows when to push us and when to dial it back. Laurel has an amazing energy and positivity to her that's infectious. She works incredibly well with our son, who mountain bikes in middle school, challenging him appropriately, while also not letting those a little less fit (me) get too far behind. The bikes were fantastic, she had everything we would need for a fun day. It made it an incredible end-to-end experience and we will definitely see her again when we return to Arizona. I think you'll find Wild Bunch unique in the sense that if you are a hard-core mountain biker, you'll be challenged … if you are middle-of-the-road amateurs like us, you will be challenged and have fun, and even if you are somewhat of a beginner, you'll find that Wild Bunch can adjust to what's right for you and show you a great time!