Joshua Tree & Anza-Borrego Cycling

Trip Length 6 Days
Group Size 4–10
Activity level
Starting from
$3,999 for REI Members
$4,399 for non-members
Departures Jan 2023-Dec 2023

Spend six days cycling through Southern California’s beautiful desert landscapes including Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

After a brief rendezvous with our trip guides in Palm Springs, we begin our experience with sweeping desert views, diverse ecosystems, and the fascinating history of Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Known for its towering boulder piles and the twisty, spiky trees that speckle its landscape, Joshua Tree sits where the high Mojave Desert meets the lower Colorado Desert. Named after a Spanish explorer and the Spanish word for "sheep," Anza-Borrego's jagged spires, desert flora and endangered bighorn sheep await.

We ride high-end drop-bar or flat-bar road bikes, E-bikes, or you can bring your own—all fitted for your comfort. We make the most of our time together in the saddle with a well-oiled itinerary, and each night we stay in comfortable hotels and resorts. By day, we tour through the Parks, marveling at the stunning vistas of local flora, fauna, daring rock climbers, and awe-inspiring art.

Expect majestic views, heart-pumping ascents and time out of the saddle to immerse ourselves in the landscape. This is an ideal winter escape for experienced cyclists, and our e-bikes can make the climbs achievable by intermediate riders too.

The Joshua tree is actually a species of Yucca plant, and it only grows here in the Mojave Desert.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park by bike and on foot
  • Magnificent overlook of the Salton Sea from Keys View
  • Soak in the rich landscape of Joshua Tree and the sprawling pines of the Cuyamaca Mountains
  • Cycle to the high altitude, gold mining town of Julian, California
  • Ride through both ecosystems among the stunning metal artwork in Borrego Springs

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4]. Trip members should be physically prepared and capable of cycling multiple days with rides up to 50 miles (5-7 hours per day). REI Adventures always attempts to find routes that are minimally trafficked, but participants must feel comfortable riding with traffic. There will be some sections of road that have little to no shoulder and some sections of rough road. The variety of riding will consist of flat stretches, rolling or punchy hills, long climbs, and descents. Participants should be comfortable cycling in a group and with vehicle traffic.

  • Cycling
  • Road Cycling

What's Included

Two professional guides; five nights hotel accommodations; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary; transfers as noted on the daily itinerary; all park fees and permits. Guest’s choice of Drop Bar Road Bike, Flat Bar Road Bike, or an e-bike (based on availability).

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

Itinerary map for Joshua Tree & Anza-Borrego Cycling
Day 1

Best of Joshua Tree National Park

We meet this morning in the lobby of our host hotel in Palm Springs, California—near Palm Springs International Airport. We travel to the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park for our bike fitting, then hop into the saddle. We ride through the most stunning areas of Joshua Tree National Park before descending to Keys View and being rewarded with sweeping vistas of Coachella Valley. Joshua Tree is a mecca for rock climbers, we’ll most likely see a few as we roll through the park. After the invigorating climb back from Key’s View, we will descend into the town of Twentynine Palms to visit the Oasis of Mara and spend the night indoors. Lunch and dinner included.

Cycling: 48.3 miles (5–7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +3,142'/-3,844'; Van transfer: 1 hour

Day 2

Joshua Tree to the Coachella Valley

After a quick breakfast, we check out of our hotel and cycle back into Joshua Tree National Park. Today, we’ll ascend through the park before an exhilarating descent through the various "life zones" of this desert landscape—areas of similar plant and animal communities. We leave behind the majestic Joshua Trees and soon find ourselves surrounded by beautiful valleys of ocotillo and cholla cacti. If the timing's right, blooming red ocotillo flowers will dot the landscape, looking like small flames in the desert. Combining the surreal and majestic vistas with 3,600 feet of descent as we glide into the Coachella Valley will brighten your eyes and make that smile hard to lose! A well-deserved rest awaits as we head to our hotel in the Coachella Valley to recover from our two days of riding through Joshua Tree National Park. All meals included.

Cycling: 46.3 miles (4–7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +3,418'/-3,587'; Van transfer: 30 mins

Day 3

Coachella Valley to Borrego Springs

Mmmmmm… breakfast and coffee, what better way to start another glorious day of riding as we transfer to a classic ride, Box Canyon Rd. through Mecca Hills Wilderness. 20 miles of inspiring nature and gentle descents make for a wonderful trip through solitude, eventually bringing us to one of the strangest anomalies of the southwest, the Salton Sea. After digesting the local lore and a satisfying lunch, we transfer down along the Salton Sea to begin our next cycling adventure through the epic Badlands and Wildflower springs of Anza-Borrego till we roll into Borrego Springs, our oasis for the next two nights. At dinner, we’ll review options for the next day which could be a rest day or two cycling options on bikes. All meals included.

Cycling: 49.4 miles (5–7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,447 '/-2,754’ Van transfer: 1 hour

Day 4

Borrego Springs Loop Rides

After breakfast, we will embark on a guided 22-mile challenge loop ride in the desert that ends with a strenuous climb and exhilarating descent. For a relaxing afternoon, we prepare to venture out on an exploratory ride of Borrego Springs. The town of Borrego Springs boasts unique sculptures well worth the loop ride to explore. On both rides, we’ll return to our hotel in the afternoon for some well-deserved rest and relaxation before dinner. Participants wishing to take the entire day off from cycling, or just do one of the rides, can do so as well. In either case, we welcome you to soak in the amenities of our resort. In the evening, our guides will meet the group for dinner and discuss tomorrow’s challenges. Breakfast, dinner included.

Cycling: 21.8 miles, self-guided (2–3 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,423'/-1,421'

Cycling: 19.6 miles, guided (3–4 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +376'/-376'

Day 5

Borrego Springs to Julian

After breakfast, we start the slow and steady ascent up the Cuyamaca Mountains into Julian, California with more than 4,000' of elevation gain over the course of 25.6 miles. Captivating vistas accompany our climb as we transition from sprawling desert to crisp pine forests. We arrive in the small gold mining town of Julian. Here we take some time to explore the kitschy and charming old-west town before settling into our lodge for the night. Feeling like you want more saddle time? Ask your expert professional guides to give you some options for additional mileage to really put an exclamation point on the day. On our short walk to dinner, we reminisce about the adventures and challenges of the week, then rest in preparation for one final ride tomorrow. All meals included.

Cycling: 25.6 miles (4–6 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +4,211'/ -514'

Day 6

Julian Loop, then back to Palm Springs

Today’s route takes us around the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve and close to a desert section of the PCT. After six days of riding, the last ten miles of descent will be a well-deserved treat and a wonderful chance to soak in the majesty around us. If we’re lucky, the area will be covered in a smattering of wildflowers that usher us down into the San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area where we will end our ride, maybe alongside some PCT hikers continuing their own epic journey. Once there, we load up and journey to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center for lunch and a bit of leisure. Then off to Palm Springs, where our guides are happy to drop off at Palm Springs International Airport or at our host hotel. All departing flights should be scheduled for after 8pm. Breakfast and lunch included.

Cycling: 34.8 miles (5–7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1,609’/-3,541'; Van transfer: 2 hours

Itinerary map for Joshua Tree & Anza-Borrego Cycling

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.

Already booked this trip? Sign into your online traveler profile for a more detailed list of what you'll need.

REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

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 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (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.