LAVERKIN —When a couple who lived in a bus full-time fell in love with Zion, they put down enough roots to open a guided adventure company along with an outdoor gear consignment shop, which allows the community to obtain gear at less than half the cost of regular outdoor stores.
From a childhood with no outdoor experiences to a new world opened up by nature’s beauty, Cindy Alfaro traded the step-by-step life plan she was expected to achieve for a home-on-wheels and seasonal jobs with her husband, Jared Wright, who has a passion for canyoneering. When they came across an opportunity to do what they loved for a living, they ran with it.
Alfaro, co-owner of Amazing Adventures with her husband, said she spent her childhood in Houston, Texas. With her mother originally from Honduras and her father from Guatemala, they both individually migrated to Texas when they were in their teens.
Her parents met in Houston and were married, then later raised three children, including Alfaro. With a childhood that did not contain opportunities to explore or see nature, she said she didn’t know anything about national parks, camping or climbing. Her parents, who found work very important, instilled in her the order her life should go: complete high school, go to college and obtain a career.
Alfaro said she didn’t have the opportunity to experience the outdoors until the age of 25, when she dated someone who took her on a family trip to Sedona, Arizona. Instantly blown away by the beauty, she kept her full-time accountant job in Houston and began to spend her weekends on trips to explore the outdoors she had missed out on as a child.
On a visit to Moab one year, Alfaro said she met a seasonal river guide who lived out of his Subaru. Completely awe-struck and inspired by the lifestyle, she went back home, put in her two-week notice and moved to Zion, a place she had visited in the past and fallen in love with.
When she arrived in the greater Zion area in 2017, she worked a seasonal job at Under Canvas – a company that offers upscale accommodations in a stunning canyon near Zion National Park. The job also provided housing, which allowed her the ability to free-roam and not be tied to a lease contract. In the winter of 2019, she attended one of the company’s camp openings in Tucson, Arizona, where she met her now-husband.
In the summer of that same year, Alfaro and Wright seasonally moved to Moab, where they purchased a bus to renovate and live in full-time. Alfaro had a full-time job at the time and also worked part-time at Moab gear trader, a consignment shop that offers new and used adventure gear. As a side income, she also purchased items at thrift stores and resold them. Her goal was to make as much money as she could in the summer in order to take the entire winter off to travel.
At the time, Alfaro said her husband had never been to Zion, but she told him how much she loved it and her strong desire to move there. In December 2019, they took the leap and moved to Southern Utah in their renovated bus. Upon arrival, they both took seasonal jobs – her husband worked as a guide at Zion Adventure Company in Springdale, while she worked at Desert Pearl, a hotel downtown.
When COVID-19 struck the community and tours became obsolete, Alfaro said her husband was laid off. Due to both the shutdowns and the heat of summer affecting their bus, they decided to move up to the higher elevations of Kolob to cool off. In 2021, they purchased half an acre and parked their van on the property for the entire year.
While they worked at a general store in Kolob, they were connected with someone who had acquired Amazing Adventures – a tour company that already had permits for canyoneering and climbing. While the owner who acquired the company didn’t know anything about climbing or canyoneering, Alfaro said her husband, who had been a climber since he was 10, offered to run it.
“My dad inspired me to go after the company when I took him canyoneering for his first time. He loved it and wanted to see me share the same experience with others,” Wright said.
With the initial owner concerned about liability issues, the decision was made to purchase the company outright, instead. Alfaro said the hardest part about establishing a guide company is obtaining guide permits, so they were excited to come across a guide company that had already obtained them. Alfaro and Wright officially purchased and launched Amazing Adventures in April of 2021.
Initially, they planned to get either a storefront for the guide company or storage space to house all the gear needed for their tours. As they started to look for a shop space, they wanted to avoid the hustle and bustle and expensive lease prices in Springdale, so they began to look at places in a central hub location – Hurricane.
Alfaro said when they stumbled across a shop space in LaVerkin, they were told by locals that it had been vacant for a very long time. Once a restaurant, she said it would need a ton of renovations in order to become any type of storefront again. When they contacted the owner who had just purchased the property a year prior, she said he wasn’t interested in the renovations needed to lease it, but told them if they wanted to put in the work and get the building up to code, he would give them a deal on rent.
“It was a big project,” Alfaro said. “It was kind of scary because we were investing in this and we weren’t even sure if the city was going to pass the final inspection. It was a big risk.”
Inspired by other consignment shops she had visited and worked at in her past along with her side-hustle of reselling used items, they decided to open both a storefront for their guide business and a consignment store that would offer discounted outdoor adventure gear. Once they came to an agreement on the lease, the renovations began.
They tore down walls, rebuilt a bathroom and more. Alfaro said the city of LaVerkin was great to work with and was excited they wanted to be in the Main Street location.
When they completed the walk-through and received the green light to open their storefront, she and her husband couldn’t wait to get started.
“There are so many people and guides in the area and people passing through, along with locals that are into the outdoors,” Alfaro said. “Kind of wild that there was not a consignment shop here already.”
Amazing Adventures had a soft open and began to accept consignment items in December of 2021. At that time, Alfaro said they were only open two days a week for specific hours in order for people to drop off their gear. The shop had a grand opening party on Feb. 16 and has been open seven days a week ever since. Alfaro runs the shop full-time while her husband steps in often to help. Wright runs the guide side of the company full-time and has four other guides that work for him.
“Owning a guide company is a lot of fun,” Wright said. “We get to share what we love to do with others.”
Wright said it is important to have safe, well-trained guides, and once everyone is comfortable with the safety and rescue systems, Amazing Adventures has the ability to take clients on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure – the ability to tackle large rappels and climbs over 100 feet – activities that most never thought they could do.
The shop offers a variety of hiking, climbing, camping and technical gear, along with touristy, artistic items. Alfaro said there is an even split between new items and consignment items available. Currently, the shop contains climbing gear and hardware, wet suits, helmets and camping items such as tents and sleeping bags. Items on consignment also have tiered pricing.
Some of the new items the shop features include stickers, candles and other items by local artisans. Alfaro is a graphic design artist herself and has created T-shirts, tank tops, stickers and hats with her designs that are available for purchase. Local guide books are also available that contain information on climbing, canyoneering, bouldering and hiking in both Zion and St. George.
Amazing Adventures also holds community days once a month, a day locals who either want to learn how to climb or just want to climb with other locals are able to get out and enjoy the outdoors together. Wright sets up ropes and lends out harnesses, shoes and other items needed to climb for the day. Alfaro said after these community days, many establish a love for climbing and obtain climbing gear right away, and they love to see that.
“This is what we love to do and when we get to see people’s passion for our favorite activities grow. It is very inspiring. It is why we do what we do,” Wright said.
Visit the Amazing Adventures website or follow them on Instagram for more information on guided canyoneering and rock climbing tours along with details on the consignment shop. The gear shop and guide storefront are located at 160 S. State Street in LaVerkin.
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