About Dan Austin
Dan Austin, Founder and President of Austin Adventures
Born and bred into the outdoor life in the hills of California, Dan ignited his passion for adventure travel in 1976 as a partner of a rafting company in the Pacific Northwest. His travels soon took him to Alaska, where he owned and operated a mid-size construction company. Here he gained valuable experience working out difficult logistics and long-distance problem solving. His company completed projects from the most remote Alaskan village to the military bases of Hawaii and The Azores.
Looking for a new challenge and having experienced small group adventure travel as a guest, Dan and a partnership group bought Backcountry Tours of Bozeman, Montana in 1994. Established a decade earlier, Backcountry Tours was a well-recognized purveyor of small group, multisport tours throughout the western United States. The foundation was laid.
The purchase of Backcountry turned out to be the catalyst for things to come. In 2000 Dan partnered up with retired industrialist and financier Paul Lehman and changed the name to Austin-Lehman Adventures.
As fulltime Director, Dan was responsible for growing the brand and developing Austin-Lehman Adventures into a respected and recognized player in the international travel marketplace.
2008 saw significant expansion at ALA with the purchase of Euro-Bike and Walking Tours, who in 1974 became the first U.S. bike tour company to establish operations in Europe. The acquisition successfully added 34 years of bike tour expertise and legacy to the Austin-Lehman brand.
In 2009 Dan’s life passion and hard work was richly rewarded when his company was named the “Best Tour Operator in the World” by Travel + Leisure magazine readers. Dan and ALA have managed to stay at the very top of this prestigious list every year since that first year, hitting #1 in Family Travel again in 2012.
The fall of 2010 saw yet another well-earned opportunity come Dan’s way as he and his wife Carol were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to purchase 100% of Austin Lehman Adventures. His partner Paul wanted a chance to pursue more personal adventures in his life.
Success to Dan has always meant more than accomplishments in the business world. In 2010 Dan found a way to pay it forward and leverage his success for the good of others. He took on a new challenge and established the not-for profit Wheels of Change by launching its first chapter in Billings, Montana. Starting with 125 of his own bikes, Dan, his family and friends collected over 200 additional donated bikes and shipped them along with a container full of tools and school supplies to the remote village of Ngoma, Namibia. Dan and his son Andy were there for the unveiling and helped establish a Bicycle Empowerment Center by turning the container into an active “Bike Shop” while training a crew of locals on how to operate and manage it. In the fall of 2011, just when a second shipment of bikes was arriving in Kenya, Austin-Lehman Adventures was recognized by a distinguished panel of international judges and awarded the Global Vision Award for Corporate Innovation by the editors of Travel + Leisure magazine. Into the future, Wheels of Change will continue its efforts to gather and ship donated bicycles to Africa while expanding its initiatives and community development projects worldwide. In 2012 Dan and ALA hosted a delegation of 14 Namibians in Montana, sharing first hand their efforts regarding sustainable tourism.
Dan lives in Billings, Montana with his family who, like Dan, also embrace an active lifestyle. When not in the office managing Austin Adventures’ day to day business, the Austins are out doing what you would expect; traveling the world, biking, hiking, fishing, climbing and exploring new destinations. Active in his own community as well, Dan serves on the Executive Board of the Southeast Montana Tourism Board and on the State of Montana Governor’s Advisory Council on Tourism. Dan also sits on a committee for the City of Billings of over 100 locals as they set out to make Billings a more “Bicycle Friendly” community by developing and maintaining and extensive network of new and existing bike trails.
A Letter from Dan Austin
Greetings from Team AA
If you’re looking through our website, chances are either you’ve traveled with us before (in which case you are the reason for our being and for that we say thanks, and welcome back!) or you are considering an Austin Adventures vacation, in which case we’d like to congratulate you on taking the first step toward the experience of a lifetime.
All of us at Austin Adventures have been hard at work, doing everything in our power to live up to and exceed our reputation as one of Travel + Leisure’s Top Tour Operators in the World. First and foremost, we’ve listened. Our alumni are our greatest asset when it comes to understanding what’s working, what we can improve upon, and which new destinations we should explore next. We tailor each of our trips according to their feedback, and we’ve expanded our roster to include tours in Denmark, Argentina, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, and beyond.
Our Alumni tell us that traveling with AA is the closest they’ve come in years to “feeling like a kid again.” From our experience in the field, we couldn’t agree more. There’s hardly anything as thrilling, enlightening, inspiring, or rewarding as diving head first into the history, culture and natural beauty of a new place. So strap on your hiking shoes, hop on your bike, grab a paddle, and let’s have some fun!
Dan Austin and your friendly team of trip consultants, guides, and staff at Austin Adventures