What is Canyon Calling?
Canyon Calling was created in 1996 so that active women, like you, could enjoy extraordinary adventures. Our trips for women focus on amazing scenery, challenging yet attainable activities and the fun, enrichment and support of women in the outdoors. Canyon Calling’s vacations for women are meticulously researched and well led. Come solo, as 80% of our travelers do, or bring your friend, sister, mom, daughter or partner.
We provide an array of fun ways to explore the outdoors. For example, our Canadian Rockies trip includes riding a gondola, three hikes, walking a glacier, canoeing on a scenic lake, soaking in hot pools and white water rafting. These are not hiking trips with a white water rafting day included nor are they biking trips with “photography” listed as an activity. Each trip is a true multi-activity vacation.
All our trips are designed for moderately-fit women. In general, if you are reasonably active in your life then you’ll do just fine on our trips. This means you should be able to hike 5-8 miles over undulating terrain in one day. We choose a hiking pace that is comfortable for all and we take the time to soak in the views, smell the flowers and photograph the wildlife. We select rafting trips where the rapids are rated 3’s on average with the odd 4 thrown in – 5’s are out of the question. We choose kayaking trips where the wind is usually at our backs on the way home and on horseback rides we always go slowly downhill.
When did it come into being and why?
The idea for taking women on adventure trips was conceived on a jeep in Sedona, Arizona in 1996. Cheryl Fleet guided tours over the red rocks and every two hours she greeted a new co-ed group. Occasionally the group was all women. The women, strangers to each other just two hours previously, bonded easily and often had lunch together afterwards. She noticed that quiet women, who would unlikely have said much in a co-ed group, had plenty to share. Co-ed groups politely listened to information about Native Americans but the all-women groups showed a keen interest, asked questions, and really understood the native connection to the land. She realized something extraordinary happened when women traveled together and she wanted to make this a more permanent option… thus the founding of Canyon Calling. Now, under the new ownership of Janet Scalzo, a fresh perspective is reinvigorating the company and designing new adventures is underway.
What makes a trip of all women different from co-ed trips?
Plenty! Let’s face it – we act differently when the guys aren’t around! We feel safe in so many ways, to let our hair down and totally be ourselves, to try something new without having to maintain a stressing pace or possibly feeling judged. We gain confidence in the inherently nurturing environment of other women. Wonderful friendships form and the memories made endure for years.
Which trips are the most popular? The most ‘misadventurous’?
There are many excellent and popular Canyon Calling adventures to choose from, but if I had to pick a few, it would be Sedona Sojourn – a soft adventure that highlights the beauty, history and serenity of Sedona, Arizona; Costa Rican Explorer - a wild and wonderfully active vacation with so much to experience in a setting of extreme natural beauty; Magic Morocco – an exotic destination at cultural crossroads with an ancient tradition of caring for travelers. The iconic Peruvian Andes trip is a life-list trip too offering Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the Sacred Valley. We tie in local cultural experiences to cultivate mutual gratefulness and understanding in these cultural exchanges. There are so many great “misadventurous trips” to choose from!
Who goes on your trips?
Active women who are looking to enjoy soft adventures with other women and/or want to learn these multi-activity skills in the non-competitive environment of a women’s trip; not-so-active women who want to improve their fitness and general confidence by easing into a soft adventure; women who want to refresh their mind, body and spirit in the safety and stimulation that traveling with a group of women provides; sisters, friends, partners, neighbors who want to spend time together on an organized trip without the complications or competitiveness of a co-ed group; women who want to celebrate special life events; women who appreciate the diversity and the inclusiveness of Canyon Calling and it’s guests. Oh, and the average age of our guests is 48, but have ranged from 26 to 82!
What gear do you always travel with?
Bose noise cancelling head phones (for flights), a raincoat that folds up to the size of a handkerchief, handkerchiefs as they are all-purpose, and CHI Silk Oil – a small luxury for hair and skin.
What advice do you have for women who want to travel more, either in a group or alone?
First, DO IT. Life is about no regrets – and you will never regret traveling! Second, if you’re tired of waiting for friends to commit to a vacation then come solo, like 80% of Canyon Calling guests do. We assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging. It’s a great way to get to know your travel companions. If you need your alone time at the end of the day you can still travel in the safety and fun of a women’s group, pay a single supplement for your own room, and have the best of both worlds.
What’s next for Canyon Calling? How do you see the company changing in the next few years?
We are introducing new adventures and new destinations; also softer adventures with more comfort built in with a focus on good meals and wine yet retaining the exciting multi-activity itineraries; and the introduction of some shorter trips for the busy executives and working women that need a fresh perspective and will find it with an extended weekend adventure vacation.
When did you know you wanted to do this type of work?
Growing up I wanted to see what was around every bend in the road – I still do! I want to meet the people that live there, taste the food, experience the culture, and celebrate our differences. I’ve had tremendous opportunities to do this around the world both professionally and personally, and now I want to share the sheer joy of local, personalized adventures with all women that are curious and consider themselves ‘global citizens’.