Arizona Sonoran Desert Cycling

Trip Length 6 Days
Group Size 4?12
Difficulty
Starting from
$2,759 for REI Members
$3,028 for non-members
Departures Dec 2019-Dec 2020

Seek out Arizona?s wildlife, wine country and other desert surprises on a 6-day jaunt through the Sonoran Desert.

Craving sunshine and memorable time in the saddle? This fully supported tour features both. Food and nature experiences deepen the Southwest flavor. With friendly guides and co-adventurers, you?ll cycle and explore around Phoenix, Tucson and Sonoita. (Sorry, no e-bikes.) Bring your own bike or be fitted for a high-end rental bike at no extra charge. Expect blue skies and bewitching Sonoran Desert vistas around every curve.

Ride handpicked roads through varied terrain, among vineyards, hoodoos, palo verde trees, and spectacular overlooks. Behold forests of cacti up to five stories tall in Saguaro National Park. Tackle legendary-for-a-reason Mount Lemmon (or a more restful route). Take in epic mountain ranges and lush wine-country hills. Spy elusive creatures at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum?s naturalistic exhibits. Meet an ocelot in the Cat Canyon, be hypnotized by seahorses at the Sea of Cortez saltwater aquarium, and stroll among chattering cactus wrens at the walk-in aviary. Enjoy locavore meals, like a farm-to-table lunch in a pecan grove. With each experience, you?ll be awed anew by the beauty of the Southwest.

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Trip Highlights

  • Ride in sweeping Sonoran Desert landscapes and Sonoita?s lush wine-country hills
  • Watch for roadrunners among the towering cacti of Saguaro National Park
  • Tackle legendary Mount Lemmon, climbing from high desert to cool alpine forest
  • Customize your trip with flexible ride lengths and rest-day activity choices
  • Savor special Southwest food experiences, including a private dinner at a winery

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4]. Participants should have cycling experience and be comfortable in the saddle for 4?6 hours per day. Rides consist of moderate and more vigorous cycling days covering of 40?76 miles. Daily rides have total elevation gains and losses ranging from 2,100'?4,800'. The optional summit of Mt. Lemmon is 7,000' of elevation gain/loss.

  • Road Cycling
  • Cycling

What's Included

Five nights accommodations; permits and associated fees; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary and bikes.

Accommodations

Hotels, 5 nights

Your wheels for the journey

Every great tour begins with a great bike, and our top-flight fleet has been carefully curated for your cycling adventure.

Want to bring your own bike?  You can do that too.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Ride Fountain to Mountain

Meet your guides and fellow trip members in the lobby of our host hotel this morning. We?ll meet one another, do a trip orientation, then transfer to our lodging for tonight, and begin our first ride of the trip, riding directly from our hotel to Fountain Park, where the town?s namesake water feature shoots water almost 600 feet in the air (one of the tallest fountains in the world). After enjoying the quiet rolling streets of Fountain Hills, we ride out into the gorgeous Sonoran Desert, along the banks of the Verde River, and into McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Once back at our hotel, there will be time to check-in, relax, enjoy the hotel?s spa or pools before a group dinner at the family-owned Tuscany-inspired restaurant right on property. Lunch and dinner included.

Cycling: 53 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +3,188'/-3,179'; Van transfer 25 minutes

Day 2

South Mountain Summit & Pecan Grove Farm Lunch

Today we join the locals in celebrating Silent Sunday at South Mountain Park, a day blissfully free of vehicular traffic on this popular summit drive. If the twists and turns of the summit road up to 2,330? overlooking the city isn?t your style, detour along the flatter but equally scenic San Juan Road, which lets you enjoy a more casual ride between two mountain ranges. We descend to the Farm at South Mountain to enjoy a local farm-to-table lunch set in a pecan grove. After lunch, we transfer south to Tucson, a bike-friendly community set in the heart of southern Arizona?s most dramatic mountain ranges. After checking in, we?ll settle in to our hotel for the next three nights before gathering for a dinner on property. All meals included.

Cycling: 33 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +2,108'/-2,108'; Van transfer 2.5 hours

Day 3

Catalina Vistas, Desert Museum & Saguaro National Park

This morning we'll have breakfast together where we'll take in stunning views of the Catalina Mountains. Once we're properly fueled, we?ll begin our ride right from the hotel, utilizing the popular Loop multi-use path through town and along the Santa Cruz River. We climb Gates Pass and descend into the heart of Saguaro National Park, where nearly 2 million saguaro cacti thrive, the densest population in the world. We enjoy lunch at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; part garden, part museum, and part native wildlife zoo, this well-kept secret will be one of the highlights of your trip. We?ll have lunch at the museum?s on-site restaurant, followed by a choice to enjoy the afternoon exploring the museum, or do all or part of the return ride back to the hotel. We'll have time this evening to clean up and relax a bit before meeting back up with the group to enjoy dinner together at a local favorite restaurant serving a du jour menu.

Cycling: 56 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +2700'/-2700'

Day 4

Rest Day with Optional Adventures (No Extra Cost)

All meals are on your own today to allow maximum flexibility in choosing your own breed of adventure! Options include: a casual ride through the beautiful Catalina State Park, a challenging climb to the Mt. Lemmon summit, or lace up your boots and hike to the beautiful Maiden Pools of Ventana Canyon. For those interested in a change of pace, stay on property and relax by the pool or book a well-earned spa service! Breakfast included.

Cycling (Optional): Mount Lemmon: 64 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +6999'/-6999'

Cycling (Optional): Catalina State Park: 29 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +971'/-969'

Hiking (Optional): 4.7 miles; Elevation? gain/loss: 1,312'

Day 5

Journey to Sonoita, Arizona?s Wine Country

This morning we'll eat breakfast together before we check out and head further south into Arizona?s wine country. Today's route will take us through the eastern side of Saguaro National Park, a not-to-be-missed ride local roadies enjoy weekly, before making our way south to remote Sonoita, AZ. The final leg of our ride will find us at the foothills of the Rincon Mountains where we'll begin our steady climb to the high desert grasslands where vineyards thrive. After check-in we'll have time to freshen up before enjoying a privately hosted dinner and wine pairing at a local family-owned winery! All meals included.

Cycling: 76 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +4810'/-4810'; Van transfer (optional): 45 minutes

Cycling (Optional): 45 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +2241'/-1709'; Van transfer: 1 hour

Day 6

Parker Canyon Lake Picnic

We?ll wake on our final day in the comfort of Sonoita Inn, and a hand-delivered in-room breakfast, courtesy of our guides. After packing our belongings into the vehicle, we take on our final ride of the journey?straight from our hotel to Parker Canyon Lake. Our route today should provide quiet and solitude as we take in the incredible lush landscape of southern Arizona, replete with hillsides dotted with vineyards. We'll stop at Parker Canyon Lake for a guide-prepared picnic lunch with a view before our return ride to Sonoita. Our guides will load up the bikes and we'll give our tired legs earned recovery time during the drive back to Phoenix. Breakfast and lunch included.

Cycling: 62 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +4221'/-4221'; Van transfer: 3 hours

Cycling (Optional): 33 miles; Elevation gain/loss: +2404'/-1867'; Van transfer: +1 hour

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

Collection of selected R E I Co-op cycling merchandise and snacks laid out to pack for a bike tour

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.