Over three days you will ride rolling singletrack with amazing views of the lushest desert in the world and magnificent mountain ranges surrounding you. If we have had a rainy year, expect seas of vibrant wildflowers during the spring months. Nobody knows Arizona’s central Sonoran Desert better than the guides who live and ride here. During rest breaks, your guide’s knowledge of the flora, fauna, geology, and history of this unique eco-system will fascinate you.
Highlights of this trip include a remote basecamp retreat packed with amenities, incredible views and fabulous mountain bike trails that can accommodate fit novices and experts alike.
Why travel with AOA? – Find out more
2017 Price: $799 pp
Activity: Mountain Biking, Camping
3 Days, 2 nights
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Arizona Classic Mountain Bike Trip
2017 Price- $799 pp
2018 Price- $849 pp
- Price is per person, shared occupancy in all accommodations.*
- Book a 2018 trip online and use the code NIFTY50 for $50 off per person
*Find out more about solo accommodations under the “Upgrades & Additions” tab below.
This amazing mountain biking trip begins in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, the warmest of all the North American deserts, where extraordinary singletrack, breathtaking views, towering cacti and perfect 75-degree weather await you. All this while it’s too cold to ride back home! We will camp in beautiful McDowell Mountain Regional Park in the most scenic part of central Arizona. Evenings will be filled with stories around the fire while our days are marked with wheel-to-dirt adventures through some of the best designed bike-specific trails around! Each day you can expect to ride through vast, sweeping desert views, pinned in by scenic mountain ranges and fields of wildflowers or native desert flora.
Click here for an explanation of AOA’s trip ratings.
Where to Meet
START: 11:00am on Day 1. Meet your guide at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Old Town Scottsdale. (CLICK HERE for map.)
END: Arrive back at Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Old Town Scottsdale on Day 3 (usually around 4:00pm.).
GUESTS: 4 min to 12 max
- 2 nights lodging at AOA Basecamp
- Round-trip ground transportation from Scottsdale host hotel
- Large tents, double-occupancy
- Comfortable sleeping pads
- Basecamp gear (kitchen equipment, hand washing station, dish washing station, solar shower, camp chairs, etc.)
- All park entry and camping fees
- Meals starting lunch Day 1 through lunch Day 3
- Water and snacks
- Professional Wilderness First Responder-certified guides/mechanics.
- Personal insurance and expenses
- Air transportation to and from Scottsdale/Phoenix
- Pre- and post-trip lodging
- Airport transfers (available through our host hotel)
- Breakfast Day 1, dinner Day 3
- Sleeping bag (available to rent from AOA)
- Bike and helmet (available to rent from AOA)
- Bike shipping/building/packing/tuning*
- Personal cycling kit
- Gratuities to AOA Guides
*Please see the “Upgrades & Additions” tab below for a list of available gear rentals and purchase options.*
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When is the best time to go on this trip?
A: This trip is offered November 1 – May 1. We are able to operate this trip on custom dates for private groups, but the operational season is limited to the winter months due to the Sonoran Desert climate. In the late winter and early spring, the Sonoran Desert turns into a lush garden of wildflowers teeming with life, adding to the incredible natural beauty of the region.
Q: What are the trails and rides like?
A: While the vast majority of our chosen routes are non-technical, small sections will involve deep sand and rocky trails. This trip does not require expert level skills or fitness, but you should have some experience riding single track trails. These are NOT paved paths or crushed gravel pathways, and you will encounter some sections with rocks creating small step-ups and drop offs (a short walk is always an option!).
Our routes have been chosen to showcase the immense diversity the Sonoran Desert has to offer. You will experience everything from giant Saguaro cacti to small desert critters while rolling along fast, sandy trails surrounded by jagged mountain peaks and 100-mile views.
If you only have experience on a road bike or hybrid bike, or if you have only ridden on man-made surfaces, you may find some of the rides on this trip challenging; please consult with our office should you have any questions regarding your riding experience and whether this is a suitable trip for you.
Q: What sort of accommodations are included on this trip?
A: AOA provides spacious nylon tents with a full-coverage rain fly. Each tent has plenty of space for two people with gear and is equipped with thick, comfortable sleeping pads. The AOA kitchen is fully equipped to allow our guides to prepare healthy, fresh meals. Guests will be provided with all dishware and utensils needed for meals.
The camp is surrounded by towering green cacti and unique trees set in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert offering a landscape unlike that of any other desert in the world. Our carefully selected private camp location is the perfect backdrop for an adventure story to unfold with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts with more than 150 miles of expertly crafted trails departing right from our camp.
Q: How do I train for this trip?
A: We believe the more fitness you have for your trip, the more you will be able to enjoy it. The sooner you can begin building fitness the better, but we recommend beginning training no later than 2 months prior to your departure. The best way to train for your adventure is to mimic the activities you will be doing on this trip. Although training on the road or on a spin bike is excellent for your fitness, please make sure that you possess adequate mountain bike handling skills to enjoy a single track trail ride. We recommend doing some dedicated training before you join us because your vacation will be far more enjoyable if you do not have sore muscles or a sore bum.
When you reserve your spot on a trip with AOA, you will receive a packet with more information about how to adequately prepare for your adventure.
Q: What’s the weather going to be like?
A: We will be camping and biking near the cities of Phoenix or Scottsdale. While temperatures here can reach record-breaking heat in the summer, all other seasons present ideal temperatures for outdoor adventure and enjoyment!
Q: Who are the guides?
A: No person knows this desert better than the guides who live, work, and play here! We employ only the best local guides. They have the knowledge to intrigue you with stories and facts of the desert flora, fauna, geology and history in the most diverse desert ecosystem the world has to offer. They have the skills and experience to keep you confident in your riding ability and, if desired, help you to improve while having fun at the same time. All of AOA’s multi-day tour guides are Wilderness First Responder-certified to give you confidence that our first goal is your safety. And most importantly, our guides have a true passion for their chosen professions. They strive to not only meet, but exceed every one of your expectations in order to help you have the best adventure vacation of a lifetime!
For more information about accommodations, weather, or training for your trip please read our Sonoran Desert Singletrack FAQ.
Recommended Reading List
- Fat Tire Tales and Trails: Arizona Mountain Bike Trail Guide
- A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona – Anne Orth Epple
- Arizona Legends & Lore: Tales of Southwester Pioneers – Dorothy Daniels Anderson
- A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert – Steven Phillips and Patricia Wentworth Comus
Upgrades & Additions
Solo Accommodations Upgrade
- Sleeping bag and linen set rental ($25 per bag)
- 30 to 40 liter day pack ($35 per pack)
- Bike rental is available through AOA. See the bike rentals tab below
*A bike and helmet are not included with the cost of this trip.*
- Bike building/packing/tuning ($125) when you ship to AOA – Find out more
- Purchase: 3-liter Camelbak reservoir/bladder ($35)
Optional upgrades, additions, and rentals subject to tax (7.95%).
- November 10-12
To see all multi-day guided tours, visit our Adventure Tour Calendar.
Bike Rental Options
This trip does not include a rental bike. AOA offers rental mountain bikes in various performance levels. Each bike rental includes a helmet and flat repair kit. You are welcome to bring your own pedals and saddle to use with our rental bikes.
Reservation & Cancellation Policy
Reservations, Payments and Cancellation
Winter mountain bike tours are very popular and advanced planning is often necessary. We recommend making your reservations at least 3 to 5 months in advance. We can accommodate last minute bookings provided space is available, so please call our office to check. Each trip requires a minimum number of participants for departure. Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) reserves the right to cancel scheduled trips that do not meet minimum sign-up requirements (usually 4 guests).
We strongly recommend that you purchase “travel insurance”. This is a valuable tool that will protect your trip investment.
For more details please see our comprehensive Trip Policies and Payments page.
We recommend Travel Guard insurance.
DAY 1: MCDOWELL SONORAN PRESERVE
11:00am – After meeting our guides and fellow riders at our Scottsdale host hotel, we transfer by van to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and enjoy a short orientation and picnic lunch before getting ready to ride. As soon as our bikes are set and our lunch is settled we set out on for a fun and fast descent down the gradual east slope of the McDowell Mountains through an otherworldly landscape of massive rough hewn granite boulders. The trail features well maintained non-technical singletrack and allows everyone to focus on building their desert riding skill set, watching out for cactus, and learning about the unique environment we are traveling through. At trail’s end we roll into our well-appointed private basecamp. Bordered by Tonto National Forest to the east and the McDowell Mountains to the west, relax with a cold drink beneath giant cacti and unobstructed views of several rugged mountain ranges. As the setting sun turns the surrounding mountains shades of purple and pink, enjoy a healthy and delicious meal prepared by your guides.
- Riding: 16 miles on smooth rolling singletrack
- Meals: Breakfast on own, lunch and dinner included
- Lodging: Camping
DAY 2: BROWN’S RANCH – MCDOWELL SONORAN PRESERVE
Rise and shine! Today’s ride will be in the northern section of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in the Brown’s Ranch area. There are over 100 miles of pristine desert trails to enjoy here. Originally carved by the motocross community, the trails here have been restored by the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, they vary from mild to wild and offering exciting rollercoaster-like riding for mountain bikers from beginner to expert. The landscape here is made up of huge granite boulders and punctuated on all sides with the desert’s most recognizable cactus, the mighty Saguaro. We’ll take intermittent breaks for photo ops and to enjoy the view so that on the trail you can focus on flowing through the whoopty-doos and carving turns.
- Riding: 20-33+ miles on tight undulating singletrack. Smooth trail surface. Options for various difficulties.
- Meals: All meals included; breakfast at camp, lunch on the trail, dinner at camp.
- Lodging: Camping
DAY 3: MCDOWELL MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK
After a delicious fresh breakfast, we will begin a full day of riding the superb trails in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Imagine a place created just for mountain bikes, the competitive track at McDowell Mountain Regional Park is that place. Originally built to serve as the home for the Cactus Cup race, Specialized Bikes provided significant support in the development of this track, which resulted in professionally hand-crafted trails that twist and flow across miles of expertly designed one-way loop trails chiseled out of beautiful Sonoran Desert landscape. With a time out for lunch and skill building on McDowell’s fun pump track, today’s twisting, turning berms, dips, jumps and straight-aways will make your spirit shine. By late afternoon we will be back in Scottsdale to say goodbye to a fabulous weekend of singletrack.
- Riding: 20+ miles on tight undulating singletrack. Rocky mixed trail surface.
- Meals: Breakfast and lunch included; breakfast at camp, lunch on the trail
- Lodging: On your own tonight
Check out this trip’s route
Click here to see the trail routes we ride on the Arizona Classic Mountain Bike Tour.
TIPS FOR PLANNING A MOUNTAIN BIKING TRIP
Whether you’re on a long or short mountain bike ride, it’s important to always have the necessary gear to keep you safe and having fun. Here are the items you should carry on your mountain bike ride.
Clipping in isn’t for every mountain bike rider, and on this blog, we discuss the question, “To Clip or Not to Clip?”
Before you rent or ride a bike, you might want to know what size you are. Here’s a blog on finding out your best bike fit.