Get an early taste of spring on this memorable bike tour through the high Sonoran Desert. With luggage support, two nights of indoor lodging, and moderate daily mileages, this tour will help us ease gently back into the spin of things as we pedal beneath the blue Arizona sky.
The route starts just outside of Tucson and traverses country roads that dip in and out of dry washes and climb over the cactus-studded flanks of desert mountains. We’ll visit Green Valley, which is known for its famous pecans, as well as the Patagonia/Sonoita area, where the cowboy lifestyle thrives alongside exquisite vineyards and a blooming art community.
And talk about the Old West! Our group will have a chance to tour places like Tombstone’s O.K. Corral, site of one of the Wild West’s most legendary gunfights, and Bisbee, with its longstanding mining heritage. We’ll also have time for other pursuits such as bird watching, gallery hopping, and wine tasting. So leave the winter chill behind and join us for a week of bike touring in the desert Southwest.
|Start Date:||Mar 08, 2014||End Date:||Mar 14, 2014|
|Start Location:||Tucson, AZ||End Location:||Tucson, AZ|
|Total Days:||7||Riding Days:||5|
|Average Daily Mileage:||44.0||Surface:||Paved|
|Riders:||13||Elevation Alert:||High point: 5200'|
|Airport:||Tucson, AZ||Tour Leader:||Chuck Pengilly, Sandra Corso|
|Level of Support:||Van Supported||Cost:||$1,139.00|
Tucson. We'll meet up in the afternoon at the Cactus Country RV Resort situated at the southeast edge of the city. Here we'll cook up a lip-smackin' dinner and have our first map meeting. When it's time to hit the tent, we'll doze off in the delightfully cool, dry Arizona air. If time permits before the tour begins, pay a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in northwest Tucson, where you can learn a great deal about the territory through which you'll be pedaling.
Tucson to Patagonia, 48 miles. Heading south from Tucson, we'll roll along the Sonoita Highway between the twin peaks of Mount Fagan, the northernmost of the Santa Rita Mountains. Though 48 miles may not sound intimidating, we'll climb an impressive 3,400 feet today. We'll wind up in Patagonia, home to the Nature Conservancy's Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, one of the most popular places for bird watching in the United States.
Patagonia to Tombstone, 54 miles. We'll leave Patagonia, riding northeast to Elgin, which joins Patagonia and Sonoita as the third town making up the "Mountain Empire" of southern Arizona. The vast, mountain-ringed grasslands support high-desert vineyards that supply grapes for wines made locally and have served as backdrops for movies ranging from Oklahoma to Kevin Costner's Tin Cup. From Elgin, we'll push on to Tombstone, where we’ll enjoy an evening of indoor lodging.
Tombstone to Bisbee, 45 miles. From Tombstone we'll bicycle through empty, broad-shouldered country that unfolds against the distant mountains. Following roads with names like "Frontier" and "Double Adobe," we'll make the approach to the mile-high town of Bisbee, founded in 1880. Mines in the Mule Mountains surrounding this former boomtown produced some three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion tons of copper, making it one of the world's richest turn-of-the-twentieth-century mineral camps. We'll camp for two nights in Bisbee at the centrally located Higgins Park, a fine base camp for exploring all of this historic town's features and attractions.
Layover day in Bisbee. By the early 20th century, Bisbee, with a population of 20,000, was the largest city in the Southwest. Though the population has shrunk to around 6,000, Bisbee has grown into a thriving center of the arts, and there's plenty to see and do. You might take a walking tour of the historic downtown and beautifully restored Victorian homes that seem to hang from the hillsides, go underground and visit an inactive copper mine, or clunk along the dusty roads of the surrounding mountains on a commercial jeep tour. If you'd rather bicycle, you can do the 40-mile round-trip ride to the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, where a multitude of birds, mammals, and amphibians thrive in the Chihuahua Desert grasslands.
Bisbee to Tombstone, 50 miles. In case you missed it on your previous visit to "The Town Too Tough to Die," on our return to Tombstone you can stand on the very spot where the Clanton Gang was shot down by Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers on October 26, 1881, in one of the most infamous gunfights in the West. Gunfight shows, lively taverns, and renovated Victorian structures help keep history alive in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Arizona. Our overnight accommodations will again be indoors.
Tombstone to Benson, 23 miles. After rolling into Benson on a short ride day, we'll be shuttled back to Tucson and tour's end where stout saguaro cacti, standing with arms extended, will bid us farewell.
"Gathering around the kitchen as dinner was prepared, talking and laughing about the day’s experiences, was a highlight of each day for me."
2013 Tour Participant
"This trip offered good conditioning opportunities in fascinating desert environments to begin the 2008 biking season."
2008 Tour Participant
"Great people! Good heads, good story, great variety."
2009 Tour Participant
"We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and hope to take another tour Tammy [tour leader] leads again."
2008 Tour Participant