Arizona Sonoran Desert Weekend Cycling

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 12
Difficulty
Starting from
$1,299 for REI Members
$1,494 for non-members
Departures Dec 2019-Dec 2020
Mon���Fri 7am���5pm PT

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.

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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

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Participants should have cycling experience and be comfortable in the saddle for up to 6 hours per day. 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

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, bike.

Accommodations

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?�� You can do that too.

Your Adventure Itinerary

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. Quiet, low-traffic roads undulate with the fun, hilly terrain to cap off this unbeatable four-day adventure with the perfect blend of challenge and gratification. After a picnic lunch, as the day begins to wind down, we return to our Scottsdale hotel by 2pm and reluctantly conclude our road cycling journey through the Sonoran Desert. Breakfast and lunch included.

We invite you to stay in town awhile and get to know Scottsdale?it offers world-renowned restaurants, shopping, golf, and a spring training schedule featuring 15+ MLB teams.

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

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.