Arizona Sonoran Desert Weekend Cycling

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4–10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,499 for REI Members
$1,649 for non-members

Departure dates will be announced soon.

We can let you know as soon as they are.

Spend four days road cycling in the straight-out-of-a-painting Sonoran Desert on outstanding rural roads outside of Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona.

Sunny spring days and inviting winter temperatures, mixed with smooth, wide roads make Arizona the perfect destination for off-season cycling trips. Spend four days road cycling and camping in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, the lushest and most diverse desert in the world on this journey-style bike adventure. Camp out under views of the Milky Way as we cycle point to point between campsites, transitioning from the verdant riparian environment along the Salt River to the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, where towering saguaro cactus stand sentry against a backdrop of made-to-order sunsets. Springtime temperatures offer waves of stunning wildflowers among an ocean of vibrant green cacti, and winters remain mild enough to enjoy a full day of riding on pristine tarmac in the outskirts of Scottsdale.

This trip offers the excitement of off-season, expedition-style bike touring without the hassle of going self-supported. It’s perfect for the cyclist who wants more adventure but understands the value of a hosted camp, knowledgeable guides and skilled vehicle support throughout.

Reflecting on our journey around a campfire is the perfect end to each exhilarating day.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the Sonoran Desert on awesome rural roads led by passionate local guides
  • Dramatic desert landscapes, whimsical cactus and epic sunsets
  • Scenic, fun riding in and around Usery Mountain, McDowell Mountain and Cave Creek regional parks
  • A winter workout without cold temperatures, snow, potholes, or freeze warnings


This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Participants should have road cycling experience and be comfortable riding in a group and with traffic. Rides consist of both moderate and vigorous cycling days covering 19–52 miles in distance. Vehicle support will be available throughout the trip when needed.

We recommend a conditioning program beginning at least 1 month prior to departure that incorporates rides of at least 30–50 miles. The better cycling shape you're in, the more you'll enjoy all this trip has to offer!

  • Cycling
  • Camping
  • Road Cycling

What's Included

Two professional guides; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary; transfers as noted on the daily itinerary; tent; sleeping pad; group cooking and camping gear; all park fees and permits; group first-aid kit; snacks, water, soft drinks, electrolyte mix; saddle bag with emergency tool kit, guest’s choice of Drop Bar Road Bike, Flat Bar Road Bike, or an e-bike (based on availability).


Camping, 3 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?  On many of our adventures you can!

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Arizona Sonoran Desert Weekend Cycling
Day 1

Usery Mountain Regional Park

Meet your guides and fellow riders at our host hotel in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona. After introductions, a short drive brings us to tonight’s campsite at Usery Mountain Regional Park and the starting point for our first ride! Your experienced guides will help fit you to your bike before we set out for a loop ride that takes us through the outskirts of Tonto National Forest and along the lush wildlife-rich Salt River. We’ll tackle a brief climb at Usery Pass, before heading back and settling into camp for the night. As your guides prepare a delicious meal to fuel the following days of road riding, you can relax around the campfire, enjoying mild Arizona nighttime temperatures where the busy-ness of the day-to-day can’t reach you. Lunch and dinner included.

Cycling: 20 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,118’ / -1,118’; Van transfer: 45 minutes

Day 2

Ride from Usery Mountain to McDowell Mountain Regional Park

The first full day of our touring journey begins with a guide-prepared breakfast—the best way to kick off a great day in the saddle. We pack up camp and let our support vehicle do the heavy lifting of moving the comfy camp setup to our next stop. Once we saddle up, we follow the Salt River upstream where wild mustangs, bald eagles and river otters are commonly spotted. This ride also takes us past the historic Saguaro Lake Ranch for a gorgeous climb out of the Salt River Canyon. We cross over land owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, then through the town of Fountain Hills. As we approach our next camp at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the rolling hills turn to more gradual, drawn out climbs as we ease into our home for tonight. All meals included.

Cycling: 39 miles, Elevation gain/loss +2,069’ / -2,378’

Day 3

Ride from McDowell Mountain to Cave Creek Regional Park

Wake up surrounded by rugged, rocky mountains and arise in our comfortable basecamp, starting the day with made-to-order hot coffee or tea and a hearty breakfast. Our bike trip today takes us over 50 miles of varying terrain and scenery. We encounter a unique mix of vast desert vistas, old west charm, and quiet communities built to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. From “9-mile climb”, as the locals call it, to the pristine, winding pavement of Sonoran Desert Drive, this route allows you to roll along picturesque roads while sinking into the rhythm that only adventure cycling can offer. With plenty of support and encouragement along the way from your guides and fellow riders, we arrive to our final camp ready to relax. Tonight takes on a celebratory feel as we eat, drink, and exchange stories from our day on the road. In the background, shooting stars welcome wishes while our guides build a campfire. Coyotes howl— marking the end of this truly epic day in the desert. All meals included.

Cycling: 52 miles, Elevation gain/loss +2,251’ / -2,053’

Day 4

Cave Creek Regional Park

The final day of our road cycling journey takes us through the charming wild west towns of Cave Creek and Carefree, Arizona, where bull riding is considered an evening pastime, and where Gila monsters and javelina are common backyard guests. Undulating, hilly terrain with a gradual descent back to the bustle caps off this unbeatable four-day adventure. The perfect blend of challenge and gratification. After a picnic lunch, as the day begins to wind down, we return to Scottsdale and reluctantly conclude our road cycling journey through the Sonoran Desert. Breakfast and lunch included.

Cycling: 35 miles, Elevation gain/loss +1,632’ / -1,856’; Van transfer: 45 minutes

Itinerary map for Arizona Sonoran Desert Weekend 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.