Joshua Tree & Anza-Borrego Cycling

Trip Length 6 Days
Group Size 4-12
Difficulty
Starting from
$2,499 for REI Members
$2,768 for non-members
Departures Feb 2020-Nov 2020

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.

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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 capable of cycling up to 50 miles (5?7 hours). Participants should come equipped with a spirit of adventure.

  • 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

Best of Joshua Tree National Park

We meet at 8am 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 climbing 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. Later, we'll descend into the town of Twentynine Palms to visit the Oasis of Mara and spend the night indoors. Lunch and dinner included.

Cycling: 49 miles (5?7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +3,232'/-3,810'; 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, we'll see the blooming red ocotillo flowers dotting the landscape. When we reach the southern part of the park road we'll have descended approximately 3,600 feet into the Coachella Valley. We'll load into the van and head to a resort in the Coachella Valley to rest and recover from our two days of riding through Joshua Tree National Park. All meals included.

Cycling: 47 miles (4?7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +3,388'/-3,647'; Van transfer: 30 mins

Day 3

Coachella Valley to Borrego Springs

After breakfast, we set off from our hotel to visit a real-world oasis and the Thousand Palms Preserve. The Thousand Palms provides the opportunity to see palms flourish in their natural state in an authentic desert oasis. After lunch, we drive along the Salton Sea before cycling over to Borrego Springs Resort, our accommodations for the next two nights. At dinner, we?ll review options for the next day which could be a rest day or another guided day on the bikes. All meals included.

Cycling: 48 miles (5?7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +2,699'/-1,494'; Van transfer: 1 hour

Day 4

Borrego Springs Loop Rides

After breakfast, we will embark on either a self-guided or guided ride; guest choice. First, 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. Second, we can prepare to take on a guided 30-mile challenge loop ride in the desert that ends with a strenuous climb and exhilarating descent. On both rides, we?ll return to the Borrego Springs Resort in the afternoon for some well-deserved rest and relaxation before dinner. Participants wishing to take the entire day off from cycling can do so as well. In either case, we welcome you to soak in the amenities of Borrego Springs Resort. In the evening, our guides will meet the group for dinner and discuss tomorrow?s challenges. All meals included.

Cycling: 20 miles, self-guided (2?3 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +382'/-382'

Cycling: 30 miles, guided (3?4 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +1650'/-1650'

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 31 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. 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.

31 miles (4?6 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +4,364'/ 672'

Day 6

Julian to Borrego Springs, then back to Palm Springs

Today?s route takes us back into Borrego Springs, creating a loop around Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. 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 Borrego Springs. Once there, we load up and head back to Palm Springs by van. 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: 42 miles (5?7 hours, paved road), Elevation gain/loss: +2,368'/-5,523'; Van transfer: 2 hours

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.