Meet the Team

Meet the Backcountry Unlimited Team

Backcountry Unlimited employees are knowledgeable outdoor enthusiasts who are seasoned industry professionals.  Our team members have made connecting young adults to the outdoors their lives (OK, we’re outdoor nerds). Backcountry Unlimited Trip Leaders are trained in outdoor adventure travel, natural history & ecology, team building, teen leadership wilderness medicine, group processing and much more.  

Backcountry Unlimited participants gain the benefit of over 25 collective years of experience. Our Trip Leaders and Adventure Partners are top notch industry professionals.  Passion, experience and high quality diverse adventures are why Backcountry Unlimited is the best adventure travel company!

 Adam Yarnes 


Adam has had a love for the natural world & adventure for as long as he can remember. He credits this to playing outside as a child on his family’s land in Western New York.  Adam is driven every day to inspire people to become effective leaders who achieve remarkable results, and he enjoys it immensely! Adam knows this is possible because he is living, breathing proof.  He believes that spending time outdoors has an amazing power to help individuals find clarity and instill critical leadership traits such as independence, resilience, compassion and perseverance.  Adam has been developing and coaching other leaders for over 15 years. Prior to founding Backcountry Unlimited, Adam was the Executive Director of several large outdoor schools in Arizona and Northern California. Throughout his tenure he has had the pleasure of working with many diverse teams, organizations, and foundations to help them achieve amazing growth results, while inspiring their leaders and streamlining their operating process.


Adam graduated from Prescott College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies while emphasizing in Environmental and Adventure Based Education. Adam’s passion for traveling and educating about the natural world has professionally taken him to Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming and back to Arizona.  He is delighted to use his years of experience to provide others with inspiring outdoor experiences. When he is not coaching or developing experiential learning opportunities, Adam can be found pushing his own limits deep in the back country and spending time with his family.  As Dr. Seuss said “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

 Julie Bielewicz 

Marketing DIRECTOR

Over the past ten years Julie has been involved with youth summer programs in different capacities, four of those years as a Camp Nurse and has seen first hand the positive impact Outdoor Leadership Programs have on youth. She is excited to be part of the Backcountry Unlimited team spreading the word on the amazing programs they provide.  Julie grew up in Western New York, far away from "The City", where she explored the thousands of acres of forest near her childhood home.  A true gypsy at heart Julie began her passion for travel and adventure in her teens with the encouragement of her parents to get out and experience the world.  Her travels have taken her all over North America, Europe, Australia, and French Polynesia. 

 John Pigaga 


Growing up in a small New England town in an age before the internet was invented, John was fortunate to have been exposed to all the wonders and mystery of nature from a young age. The days spent in the woods exploring and nights camping with his father, instilled a deep passion for the outdoors and the limitless possibilities it holds. Being a father of three, John understands the importance of providing our children a safe space in nature to explore, grow and connect as people. After twenty years working professionally as a financial advisor, John made a decision to follow his passion for education, children and the great outdoors. John has spent the last two years working as an Outdoor Educator at a science camp in Prescott, Arizona where his passion for his job always seems to leave a smile on his face.

 Gwen Lyons 

Adventure Instructor

Born and raised in the Green Mountain State, Gwen’s love for adventure and the natural world developed from playing outside year-round in Vermont. She has been working in the education field since graduating from the University of Vermont in 2006 with a B.S in Environmental Studies. After graduation, Gwen worked as an outdoor environmental educator in both rural New Jersey and the mountains of north Georgia. When she returned to Vermont, Gwen continued to work in the EE field in several different capacities until she decided to take her love for science inside and get her teaching license. Despite enjoying her work, Gwen chose to ditch the traditional classroom for the wilderness. She loves working with students of all ages, sharing her excitement and enthusiasm for science and the natural world. Gwen’s interests include leadership development, mindfulness and helping adolescents develop a sense of place. 

An avid outdoor adventurer, Gwen decided to turn passion into purpose and is pursuing a graduate degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College. Gwen packed up her Subaru and drove west to Prescott at the end of 2018. On any given day you can find her hiking or trail running with her dog Odin. She enjoys climbing, biking, kayaking, canoeing, backpacking, skiing and more. Gwen spends her weekends mountain biking around the Prescott National Forest and improving her climbing in the Granite Dells of Prescott. She is excited to continue exploring Arizona and learning about the unique plants and animals which call the four corners region home.

 Stephen Hovater 

LEAD Climbing Instructor

Growing up in a big fishing village on the north end of Taiwan, Steph learned the joys of interacting with nature at an early age. He feels most comfortable when he’s fully immersed in the outdoors. He loves exploring the macro and micro details of any landscape because it provides him with a deeper knowledge into an area's ecosystem, its wild characteristics, and of course, its beauty. Steph moved to the United States in 2010, traveled west and quickly found himself infatuated with the ponderosa forests and granite walls that shadow Prescott, AZ. An avid climber of almost a decade, Steph spent a lot of his time within the vertical world and discovered a lively community within. He wanted to find a way to give back and once he graduated from Prescott College, Steph took what he learned into the world of guiding. He received his Single Pitch Instructor certification through the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), which opened doors for him to guide in places like China, Taiwan, Utah, and Colorado. Eventually, he felt called to move back to Prescott. He now works for Prescott College as an adjunct professor where he teaches Intro and Intermediate rock climbing. His teachings stem from understanding and identifying the importance of empowering individuals through self-awareness, self- confidence, and self-love. He manifests those beliefs through positive and strategic encouragement, through companionship, and through his passion for teaching the next outdoor enthusiasts. 

 Maya barnes 

Adventure Instructor

Born and raised right here in Prescott, Maya’s love for nature and the outdoors was fostered at a young age. She credits this passion, and so much more, to her family and the opportunities they gave her as a child to explore nature. The best memories she has are that of being a child exploring the rivers, deserts, and other wonders of the southwest and beyond. She believes that connection to nature is incredibly important for healthy development in children and adults alike and wants to help people create their personal relationships with the natural world. After living and studying in Oregon for a few years, Maya has found her way back to the desert and to Prescott College, where she is an undergraduate student studying Adventure Education with an emphasis in Therapeutic use of the Wilderness. Maya has had opportunities to travel and volunteer in various places around the world and has lead groups backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and rock climbing around the Western US. She is currently passionate about rock climbing, yoga, inclusivity and adaptivity in Outdoor Education programs, and spending time with her kitty cat.

Trusted Partners 


 Adventure Programs









Phone:  (928) 421-1046

Prescott, Arizona, USA

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