If you’re on a trail in Montana and hear the A-team theme song, it’s probably Andy Austin, travel photographer and guide for Life is Good Vacations by Austin Adventures. But adventuring isn’t just the family business; it’s how Austin grew up, learning the names of Yellowstone’s mountains and watching the seasons change the look of each range.
He can tell you what it’s like when the chaos of summer starts slowing down and the crisp, cold fall air sets in. He can take you down little-known trails and share stories of Montana’s cowboys you can’t find anywhere online.
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what Austin has to say about guiding and growing up around Yellowstone.
We can probably guess, but what was it like growing up in a family business that took you all over the world?
AA: When my dad first kicked the business off, I was four years old. I spent entire summers on these trips. When I was older, I worked with my dad to build trips to Montana, the Canadian Rockies, and all the way up into Alaska. It was an amazing way to grow up. Seeing other cultures at a young age, you realize that there’s a lot more to life other than what’s in front us.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned working in the great outdoors?
AA: Going with the flow of life. You can’t control everything, especially when it comes to being in nature. There are a lot of question marks, and the unexpected is going to happen. It’s up to you how you respond.
Which Life is Good Superpower supercharges your travels?
AA: Gratitude; it’s something I was raised with. When you grow up traveling a lot, it’s easy to get away from the idea that this is normal. But I don’t take how I live my life for granted. I’m really grateful that I have these opportunities in my life, and that I get to share them with others.
You grew up in Montana — does that make the tour experience any different?
AA: I grew up in Yellowstone. This trip lets me share how I was raised with people, and that’s tied up with why I started guiding and why I still love it. I’ve heard stories passed down generation to generation — stories I grew up hearing around a campfire — and I alway pass these on to our guests around the campfire, too.
What’s something not a lot of people know about your home state?
AA: It’s not just beautiful scenery; The towns have so much more going on. The food and brewery scene is incredible, with an abundance of local and sustainable options to fuel all of the hiking and sightseeing there is to do.
How would you spend a perfect day there?
AA: It would start with a great cup of locally roasted coffee, and then off to the mountains to play. Catching a sunrise from the top of a mountain is the greatest way to start a day, and the trails are usually vacant. Post-trail, I often find myself in the local brewery scenes for a post-hike beer.
Okay, last and maybe most important question: What music do you listen to when you’re gearing up for the trails?
AA: I’m known for my playlists, actually. I usually kickoff with the A-team theme song before every trip. Then I turn to some local bluegrass folk music. But I also play a lot of songs everyone knows the words to. I throw a little Journey in there, and some newer feel-good songs, like “Uptown Funk.”