Guides & Staff
Our Guides & Staff
Touch the Southwest prides itself on working with the finest guides in the region. Each has been handpicked for their educational and professional backgrounds, their outgoing personalities, and their dedication to providing you with the finest in personal service.
Our guides hold advanced degrees in subjects ranging from history and archaeology to art and the natural sciences. Each has decades of professional experience throughout the region, and, being excellent communicators, they bring to life the wonders you will explore together.
Our travel consultants and event planners are experts in luxury travel within New Mexico. Each has traveled extensively throughout the region, finding those special places that our clients seek as well as producing the finest events and vacations imaginable. We are proud to be associated with these exceptional individuals and to have them working with us. Without them, we would be just another tour company.
Ethnobotanist and Educator
Mike Masek spent his childhood exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the Appalachian foothills of Pennsylvania during family vacations. His love of wild places eventually led him to the Southwest.
Mike attended the University of New Mexico and Northern Arizona University and has a Master’s degree in Education. His main focus of study is ethnobotany; the way humans have used and interacted with the plant world. He currently specializes in traditional medicinal and wild edible plants of the American Southwest. He is adjunct faculty at Northern Arizona University and has taught programs at national parks, community colleges and outdoor education centers throughout the southwest.
His travels and studies have also taken him across North America, including Alaska and Canada. He spent 8 years in Asia, investigating the flora of China, India, and the Tibetan Plateau, including a year trekking in the Nepali Himalayas.
For the past several years, Mike has been guiding in Sedona, the Grand Canyon and southern Utah. Whether by foot, horseback, raft, van or helicopter, Mike enjoys sharing the beauty and magic of the natural world with visitors. His friendly personality and hands on approach to the outdoors make his trips memorable to all ages.
Expert International Guide
A native of Chicago, Rob is one of our most popular trip leaders. His light and easy personality, boundless energy, encyclopedic regional knowledge, and his love of nature come together to make him a world-class guide.
Rob’s love of nature came to him early and has taken him far and wide. Having explored the wilds throughout the Americas and Europe, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego to the Alps, Rob splits his time between guiding in North and South America, and Europe. Spring, summer, and fall finds him leading rafting trips on the Colorado River, camping in Grand Canyon, hiking in Zion, and horseback riding through Bryce Canyon. Winter takes him south where he’ll sea kayak in Baja, raft in Chili, and trek through Patagonia. Having earned a degree in Environmental Sciences from Prescott College, this avid birder is particularly interested in environmental economics and the potential for integrating concepts such as sustainability into mainstream business culture.
Rob has worked with us for over ten years and we look forward to him working with us for many more.
Artist and New Mexico Specialist
Stephen is an accomplished artist (who painted the beautiful aspen scene in the banner above), tour guide, and journalist with a lifelong love of the history and culture of New Mexico and the Southwest. He was born and raised in West Texas where he divided his time between fossil hunts with his geologist father and riding fence on his grandfather’s ranch near Pecos. At the age of 14, his interest in the history of New Mexico was piqued by an article about Pope and the pueblo rebellion of 1680 published in American Heritage.
“I discovered a rich tapestry of history and culture that somehow seemed excluded from my history classes at school.”
As a student, he took the job of weekend host at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas, where he was exposed to the archeology, culture, and art of New Mexico. When he completed his studies in painting and sculpture in 1976 at Texas Tech University, he moved to the mountains of New Mexico and became an avid skier and ski instructor.
Today, Stephen is a resident of Taos, New Mexico and works in his studio located just outside the old Spanish village of Arroyo Seco on the way to Taos Ski Valley. His paintings are in collections around the world and he is also a published freelance journalist who makes frequent appearances on radio talk shows. He has come to know indigenous cultures and history from an intimate perspective and has been in ceremony with the Lakota, Apache, and Dine’ (Navajo) people. From climbing mountain trails above Taos Ski Valley in search of wild edible mushrooms, to exploring ancient Puebloan ruins to visiting an important American artist at work in his or her studio, the magic and the grandeur of northern New Mexico is enhanced by the accompaniment of a passionate and articulate man the Taos News calls “most knowledgeable on all things Taos”.
Founder and Owner
A native New Yorker, Bruce has spent most of his life traveling throughout North America. He has visited 49 states and lived in 14, including Alaska. He discovered the Colorado Plateau almost thirty years ago and things haven’t been the same since.
Trained to be a saucier in classical French cuisine, Bruce’s first career was as a Chef, working in the finest restaurants in New York and Denver. In 1990, Bruce retired and moved into the wilds of the Colorado Plateau where he camped and explored for five months with his Siberian Husky, Chilako; a.k.a. Enviro-Dog-Wonder. This period of intense contact with nature motivated him to return to school to study geology. His interests led him into southwestern archaeology and history, Native American cultures and religions, primitive pottery making, and the Dine’ (Navajo) language. While in graduate school at Northern Arizona University, he started Touch the Southwest Tours.
For the past twenty years, Bruce has created the finest, most luxurious custom tours across the southwest. His efforts have been recognized by such esteemed organizations as Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, where he has been honored as one of their Top Travel Specialists of the World, as well as being a member of the “invitation only” luxury travel network, Virtuoso. Today, Bruce oversees company operations in order to maintain the highest levels of excellence as well as stay abreast of the latest happenings and offerings across the southwest. He also keeps his hand in the culinary arts by researching and creating new dishes for his tours. When not touring or cooking, you will find him in his wood shop, four-wheeling in his old Jeep, continuing his love affair with photography, or out hiking with his Huskies.
Travel Specialist and Vice President
A mother of four, Brenda was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and moved with her family to southern California when she was very young. She studied fashion and interior design before setting out on a career designing and creating original wedding dresses for an exclusive clientele. This led her into the wedding and event planning industry, where she discovered that she was better at planning than the planners with whom she worked. Subsequently, Brenda made the jump from wedding dress designer to wedding planner. This career took her to Palm Springs where she worked with the best hotels, country clubs, and event venues as she produced unique weddings and events of the finest quality. Brenda joined Touch the Southwest in 2007 as our lead Event & Wedding Planner and we are very lucky to have her.
Brenda’s interests and hobbies have expanded over the years. Although she is still very much interested in fashion, designing, and making clothes and gowns, she has discovered the wonders of the southwest and spends a fair amount of time exploring the wilds found here. She is also an avid reader of mystery novels and an enthusiastic gardener specializing in wildflowers and regional native species.