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Larry Whipple

In 1990, in the middle of a recession, Larry Whipple asked his wife if he should lead a tour into the American Southwest. Times were tough, and exploring a new career path seemed like a good move. Larry began his working life running an interior design business,

and that past career took him all over the country. He’s an enthusiastic teacher with vast knowledge about the earth and it’s geology, and he’s always loved the Southwest. Trying his hand at leading guided tours seemed like a logical way to put those skills to work.

Both Larry and his wife thought that this new endeavor would be fairly casual; “a day tour here, a day tour there,” but Larry led that one tour and never looked back.

 “I’ve never, ever, lost my sense of wonder about that place.”

When asked about his favorite tour to lead, it’s difficult for him to pick a single place. He estimates that he’s been to the Grand Canyon 1,400 to 1,500 times (give or take a few trips.) You might think that the scenery starts to feel common, even normal, after visiting so many times. One time he asked Jeff Slade, one of the owners of Detours, “Do you ever suppose I’ll lose my sense of wonder about this place?” Jeff immediately responded, “No, no way.” Larry loves nothing more than sharing that sense of wonder with his guests.

Sedona is also at the top of his list, and he finds great joy in showing guests Zion National Park for the first time. According to him, it’s the “ideal place to wind up a tour.”

Zion National Park

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He’s also quick to spread some love for custom tours, explaining how they’re the perfect way to personalize a trip while keeping it flexible. That flexibility can come in handy when you’re “taking care of people,” as Larry puts it. He often reminds himself that “some people don’t want to be there,” which gives him an extra push to inspire guests to appreciate the places he so clearly loves. For Larry, the guest experience is the most important part of any tour.

“I get on an adrenaline kick and it keeps me going throughout the day.”

Sedona

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It’s difficult to succeed as a tour guide if you don’t love what you’re doing, but that’s not a problem for Larry. He loves to teach, and he’s met countless people who have changed his life along the way.

Larry knows that Detours has some excellent competition out there. But as far as he’s concerned, he “wouldn’t want to do these tours for any other company,” and that’s some high praise. In particular, he likes that tours with Detours tend to be smaller; there’s no cramming 20 people into a single van, and that allows him to tend to each guest on a more personal level.

“I really like what I do, I really do. It’s a good last career in my life.”

Grand Canyon

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What does the future hold for Larry? Well, he’ll always be venturing out into the great American Southwest, but he’s scaling his tours back a bit these days. After decades of sharing knowledge about his favorite places with people from around the world, “now it’s time to be home” with his family; and there’s little doubt that he’ll be spreading his enthusiasm for this special part of the country with his grandchildren.

If you’re lucky enough to head out on a tour with Larry Whipple, have no doubt that you’re in for an excellent time.

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