This May marks Jackson Hole Eco Tour Wildlife Adventures’ 10-year anniversary. The vision for Eco Tour Adventures was born long before then. In high school, Founder and CEO Taylor Phillips was introduced to some of our natural thinkers, nature-based thinkers like Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and John Muir. These writers clearly hit home and transformed how he viewed the natural world. “There’s an intrinsic value in wilderness and also in nature that’s less wild - the trees and the birds in our city park. It’s important for the human psyche to simply know they exist,” he said.
Taylor then studied environmental philosophy and environmental studies in college. He wrote his thesis on Eco Tourism, which is very much reflected in Eco Tour Adventures’ ethos. He had philosophies and missions driving him and wanted to create a more meaningful experience for visitors. Having people on his tours to leave with a deeper understanding of what they’d seen would be the main goal for his customers experience, visitor and local. WHY is the bear in this specific part of Grand Teton National Park? WHY is the bear eating those berries? WHY are those berries important? WHAT happens to the berries as the seasons change?
Taking part in wildlife tours through Venezuela and the Caribbean Islands as more inspiration and memorable experiences, he officially was settled in Jackson Hole. For the first three years Taylor was the sole, dedicated employee. He booked tours, created the advertisements, and then actually guided the tours, too. During that time the Eco Tour Adventures headquarters was in Taylor’s apartment was what you would call “family grown.” Each of his two roommates ended up as employees, one of whom is still with Eco Tours!
Now, Taylor is one of nine guides who lead snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and wildlife viewing programs. And though it has seen a lot of growth throughout the years, Eco Tours still seems to be living its mission. As Taylor said, “I feel that we owe it to the natural world to give back.” How do they stick to that mission? They serve local, organic food to their customers during trips, partner with the Carbonfund by buying carbon credits to offset their vans that they use for the outings, invest in green energy technology, fund actual trees to be planted to absorb the CO2, and support local nonprofits including the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and the research arm of the Raptor Center.
I ended our interview with one of my favorite questions for wildlife-enthusiasts. "If you could be any animal, what would you be?" Unlike others, Taylor assertively answered within two seconds, “A bighorn sheep. They’re nimble and agile all while enjoying steep and rocky terrain. They also have incredible eyesight and often overlook open vistas." Taylor said he likes to like to call them “the Mountain Monarchs.” In that case, I’d like to be a Mountain Monarch too.
This article has been edited for length and clarity.
Learn more about what EcoTour Adventures has to offer for your next half or full-day trip into the wild all year long. Oh, and don't forget to check out that gorgeous photography, too.
This story is a part of #humansofjhchamber: The campaign places a focus on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why they got started in their industry, and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram, @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Director of Membership, Elisabeth Rohrbach, email@example.com or 307.201.2301.
Written by Director of Membership Elisabeth Rohrbach.