Scottsdale & Sedona Winter Mountain Biking

Self-Guided Mountain Biking Tour of Scottsdale and Sedona

TripAdvisor Certificate of ExcellenceWhile your local trails are snow covered, join us for saguaros, sunshine, Sedona and singletrack! This self-guided mountain bike trip begins in the Sonoran Desert with a wide variety of trails to suit intermediate to advanced riders, then transfers to Sedona to finish out the week. The trails near Scottsdale, Arizona will astound you, with over 200 miles of new, purpose-built, fast and flowy singletrack. Temperatures often reach 70 degrees on winter days, perfect trail conditions. During the second half of the trip you’ll explore Sedona, a red rock playground of slick rock, hard-packed silt and ledge-filled rides beneath an azure blue sky. Well-known by sightseers and new age spiritualists, Sedona is also home to some of the best mountain biking in the country.

Available: November 1 – April 30. 

This program includes guided rides each morning and self-guided, independent afternoons and evenings. It is available in Winter and Spring. This makes for the perfect combination of support and independence for as few as 2 travelers- starting any date you wish! 


Why travel with AOA?: Find out more

Price: from $1335 pp

Activity: Mountain Biking

7 Days, 6 nights

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced


Scottsdale & Sedona Winter Mountain Bike Trip

Trip Details


$1,695 pp with 2 participants

$1,449 pp with 4 participants

$1,335 pp with 6 participants

  • We cannot accommodate solo travelers on self-guided trips.
  • Price is per person, shared occupancy in all accommodations.*

*Find out more about solo accommodations under the “Upgrades & Additions” tab below.


Trip Rating

Comfort – 4

Solitude – 3

Click here for an explanation of AOA’s trip ratings.


Where to Meet

START: Day 1, meet at AOA offices in Scottsdale for orientation between 1 – 4 p.m.

END: Day 7, Return Bikes to AOA in Scottsdale by 4 p.m.

GUESTS:  2 min (no single travelers)



  • Orientation meeting Day 1: local expert will cover all rides, bike set up, bike rack installation, recommended additions to your schedule
  • 3 nights lodging at Carefree Resort- double occupancy
  • 3 nights lodging at Arabella Hotel Sedona- double occupancy
  • Breakfast daily (lunch and dinner on own)
  • Comprehensive “Route Books” with driving information, restaurant suggestions, and more
  • 6 days of guided rides, 3 hours each ride
  • Professional Wilderness First Responder-certified mountain bike guides during guided rides
  • Water and snacks during guided rides
  • Gloves, helmet, clipless pedals upon request, available with bike rental

Not Included

  • Personal insurance and expenses
  • Air transportation to and from Scottsdale/Phoenix
  • Airport transfers
  • Ground Transportation (you will need a rental car)
  • Pre- and post-trip lodging
  • Breakfast Day 1, Lunch and dinner Days 1-7
  • Park entry fees and Red Rock Pass
  • Bike and helmet (available to rent from AOA)
  • Bike shipping/building/packing/tuning*
  • Personal cycling kit
  • Emergency repair kit
  • Optional gratuities to guides for guided rides

*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 – April 30. 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. We are able to operate this trip on custom dates for private groups, but the operational season is limited to the winter and spring months due to the extreme temperatures in the summer in the Phoenix area. Due to the higher elevation of Sedona, this area can experience more traditional winter temperatures and occasional snow unlike the Sonoran Desert, however abundant sunshine during the day generally makes for mild winters.

Q: What are the trails and rides like and how do I train for this trip?

A: While the majority of our chosen routes are non-technical, small sections will involve deep sand, rocky trails, and some level of exposure. While this trip does not require expert level skills or fitness, you should have some experience on 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!). While there are a variety of options for different skill and fitness levels in Scottsdale, Sedona is generally more technical and challenging riding.

Our routes have been chosen to showcase the immense diversity of the Sonoran Desert and the incredible red rocks of Sedona. You will experience everything from giant Saguaro cacti to intricate orange-red sandstone formations while rolling along fast, sandy trails.

If you only have experience on a road 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 it is a suitable trip for you.

Q: What sort of accommodations are included on this trip?

A: For the Scottsdale portion of your adventure, you will be staying at Carefree Resort and Conference Center, an upscale resort tucked away in a small town just north of Scottsdale. The charming town of Carefree will give you the perfect taste of the quintessential Southwest or what is often considered the “new west.” In Sedona, you will find yourself right in the heart of the town that topped the Most Beautiful Places in America list compiled by USA Weekend. The Arabella is a modest hotel with modern amenities, conveniently located  in close proximity to an abundance of distinctive shopping and dining options.

Recommended Reading List

  1. Fat Tire Tales and Trails: Arizona Mountain Bike Trail Guide
  2. A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona – Anne Orth Epple
  3. Arizona Legends & Lore: Tales of Southwester Pioneers – Dorothy Daniels Anderson
  4. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert  – Steven Phillips and Patricia Wentworth Comus

Upgrades & Additions

Solo Accommodations Upgrade

$536 pp

No solo travelers, this option is for a single room while traveling with your group.


Gear Rental

  • Bike rental is available through AOA. See the bike rentals tab below.


Optional Additions 

  • Bike building/packing/tuning ($125) when you ship to AOA – Find out more

Optional upgrades, additions, and rentals subject to tax (7.95%).

Trip Dates


2018 Trips

Available November 1 – April 30.

How to reserve your self-guided trip:

One of the benefits of going self-guided is that your travel dates are dependent only on you. We are able to offer this trip at your convenience during the specified season. Please discuss your preferred travel dates with our staff upon inquiry.

To see all of AOA’s multi-day trips, visit our Adventure Tour Calendar.

Bike Rental

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 in Arizona 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. Please read our cancellation policy through completely.

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.



Trip Itinerary


Between 1 – 4pm – Meet at the AOA headquarters in Scottsdale for orientation. During orientation, your trip consultant will review all of your reservations and planned rides, make some additional suggestions for how best to enjoy the local area, and if you rented a bike, will walk you through bike set up and bike rack installation on your rental car. After orientation you will have time to get out on the trails nearby if you wish, or to go exploring in town; just ask your trip consultant for suggestions! Your hotel is in relaxing Carefree, next door to the cowboy town of Cave Creek. Get your western on!

  • Riding: No riding today
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: Carefree Resort


Mountain Bike Ride in Brown's Ranch

One of the western USA’s newest trail systems, Brown’s Ranch is arguably one of the best outside of Utah and Colorado for both the length of rides and diversity of skill levels that the trails provide. Beginner to advanced cyclists will find something here. Flowing singletrack, coupled with breathtaking views of open desert and towering mountains, makes this system one of the most fun places to ride. This morning, you will meet one of AOA’s expert mountain bike guides at the trailhead for about 3 hours of guided riding. The trails chosen will be based on your skill level. Feel free to ask your guide any questions about the surrounding area. Count on riding with your guide for 3 hours, concluding back in the parking lot at noon. The rest of the day is yours to ride more as you please, grab lunch nearby, lounge by the pool at your hotel, or visit some of the many sites Scottsdale has to offer!

  • Riding: 20+ miles; 3 hours, minor elevation changes overall, but short, punchy climbs are common. Fit road riders and moderate level mountain bikers will be comfortable.
  • Meals: Breakfast included; lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: Carefree Resort


Half-Day Guided Mountain Bike Riding Tour with AOA

Mountain Biking in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park

This morning’s guided ride explores the McDowell Mountains, riding through Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and into the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. This area is a wilderness corridor connecting directly into the massive Tonto National Forest, creating a habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal life. Keep your eyes peeled for gambel’s quail, jackrabbits, desert tortoise or even maybe a bobcat!

The ride will warm you up with a fun downhill leading to some of the most fun cross country mountain bike trails in the Southwest. A long loop around famous Pemberton (home of the Javelina Jundred endurance trail run) and Escondido trails will cover almost 3 hours; but don’t forget, what goes down must go up! Your ride finishes with a long gradual uphill back to the trailhead. Once again, the afternoon is yours to enjoy all that towns of Carefree, Cave Creek, and Scottsdale have to offer.

  • Riding: 25 miles; 1,100 feet + elevation gain. Flowing, fast and mostly smooth.
  • Meals: Breakfast included; lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: On your own tonight


This is your last ride day in the Scottsdale Sonoran Desert, and we offer some choices today based on your skills and preferences. We can go back to Brown’s Ranch and ride terrain you haven’t covered if you enjoyed the first day’s ride, or we can take you to similar terrain at the Phoenix Sonoran Park system that includes a little more climbing with mostly smooth, flowing trails. For more challenging riding, we can do Spur Cross Ranch near Cave Creek.  After the ride, you can return to your hotel, checkout, and travel on your own to Sedona (2 hours by car).  In Sedona, check in to your hotel and explore the town! We include suggestions on what to see and do, as well as excellent dining choices in the central part of town.

  • Riding: 12-20+ miles; 3 hours guided suited to your skill level
  • Meals: Breakfast included; lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: Arabella Hotel Sedona


After breakfast, get ready to ride! Here in Sedona the trail conditions are quite different than what you’ve experience so far. You will have a local guide to spend the mornings with. Your guide will meet you to go over the rides, answer any questions, and adapt the ride to your abilities.  After lunch, you can ride on your own if you desire, but we also recommend enjoying some of Sedona’s amazing hikes such as Cathedral Rock, which begins right in town. Some travelers may choose to relax poolside with a book for a little recovery time! Tonight, we have you covered with suggestions of Sedona’s best post-ride dining experiences.

  • Riding: 12 miles; up to 3 hours
  • Meals:Breakfast included; lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: Arabella Hotel Sedona

Self-guided Mountain Biking Tour Sedona


Today, riders will venture into the Upper Dry Creek Trail system located on the west side of Sedona. Three sides of this trail system sit in the shadow of the sky-scraping cliffs of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, which makes for world-class scenery at every stage of the ride. There are numerous options in this system, but we will likely start with a classic loop: Long Canyon, Deadman’s Pass, Aerie, Cockscomb, Dawa and back on Arizona Cypress Trail. This loop provides challenge while giving riders a chance to ease into the day on gentler grades and terrain. After the ride, your guide will provide numerous additional suggestions for loops you may choose to ride this afternoon or for a few great hikes in the area.

  • Riding: 19 miles; 3 hours of moderate level of skill and up required. Almost all singletrack with the occasional rock obstacles and short punch ups.
  • Meals: Breakfast included; lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: Arabella Hotel Sedona


Go on a self guided mountain biking trip in Scottsdale and Sedona, Arizona

Today, you get a final half-day guided ride; perhaps you’ll take a spin beneath Steamboat Rock on the Jim Thompson trail and explore the Soldiers Pass Area, or venture down another of your guide’s favorite local trails. After checkout from your hotel, enjoy a celebratory lunch in uptown Sedona before the easy 2 hour drive south to your bike return at the AOA office before you head on to the Phoenix Airport or an extra night in the city. Ask your trip consultant for recommendations.

  • Riding: 8 miles; up to 3 hours; moderate to challenging depending on your wishes for this last day.
  • Meals: Breakfast included; lunch and dinner on your own
  • Lodging: On your own tonight



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.