Sonoran Desert Cycling Journey

Explore the Sonoran Desert By Bike

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Mild winter temperatures and warm spring weather make Phoenix the perfect cycling escape. Spend four days road cycling and camping in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Camp out under stars as we cycle point to point between campsites, transitioning from the lush riparian environment along the Salt River to the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Springtime temperatures offer waves of stunning wildflowers among an ocean of vibrant green cacti and warm days of riding followed by cool quiet nights.

Why travel with AOA? – Find out more


Trip Price: $1195 pp

+ $12 PP (Permits & Land Use Fees)*

*Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure.

4 days, 3 nights

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

Activity: Cycling, Camping

This trip confirms with 2 guests!

Sonoran Desert Cycling Trip

Price & Inclusions


+ $12 PP (Permits & Land Use Fees)*

  • Price is per person.
  • Do you have five minutes to save $25? Use the promo code 25for5 at checkout and get $25 per person off your trip price when you take 5 minutes to complete your guest profile and sign your waiver! Profiles and waivers are due no later than 1 week after booking to cash in on this promotion!
  • See our Promos & Discounts page for a list of multi-day trip promotions that may apply!

*Subject to change and will be based on actual costs at time of departure


Trip Price Includes

  • Transportation to and from the Holiday Inn Express and all transfers during trip
  • 3 nights camping with comfortable basecamp amenities
  • Meals starting lunch Day 1 through lunch Day 4
  • Water and snacks
  • Rider support/aid stations during rides
  • Rider cue sheets, GPX files in advance (upon request)
  • Professional Wilderness First Responder certified guide/mechanic

Permit & Land Use Fees Include

  • Usery Regional Park Entry
  • McDowell Mountain Regional Park Entry
  • Cave Creek Regional Park Entry
  • 3 nights Maricopa County camping fees

Not Included

  • Personal insurance and expenses
  • Transportation to and from Phoenix/Scottsdale
  • Pre- and post-trip lodging
  • Breakfast Day 1, dinner Day 4
  • Bike and helmet (available to rent from AOA)
  • Long stem tubes
  • Bike shipping/building/packing*
  • Personal cycling kit and clothing
  • Tent (available to rent from AOA)
  • Sleeping pad (available to rent from AOA)
  • Sleeping bag (available to rent from AOA)
  • Gratuities to AOA Guides

*Please see the “Rentals & Add Ons” tab below for a list of available bike and gear rentals and purchase options.*

Trip Details

Trip Rating (1 – 5)

Fitness – 3

Comfort – 3

Solitude – 3

Guest Participation – 4

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


Where to Meet

START: 8:00 am on Day 1. Meet your guide in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale (CLICK HERE for map). 

END: 4:00 – 6:00pm on Day 4. Drop-off at the Holiday Inn Express in Old Town Scottsdale.

GUESTS: 2 min to 12 max (minimum age 14)


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When’s the best time to go on this trip?

A: This trip is offered October through April; with abundant sunshine and warm temperatures year-round, Phoenix makes a great winter and early spring getaway. March and April provide opportunities to see the desert spring bloom as well as offer longer days compared to December or January.

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

A: This tour is 100% road riding, moderate, and meant for intermediate road cyclists looking to spend a few hours in the saddle each day. All rides are optional, and most days have options to go longer or shorter. To fully enjoy this trip, we recommend building up to riding 30-40 miles each day for 4 days with moderate elevation change. We provide more specific instruction for preparation in your trip planner after you book your cycling trip with AOA.

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

A: 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 locations are the perfect backdrop for an adventure story to unfold with like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. 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. Showers will be available to guests each day.

Rentals & Add Ons

Gear Rental

  • 30 to 40 liter day pack ($25 per)
  • Sleeping bag and linen set rental ($35 per bag/set)
  • Inflatable sleeping pad ($35 per, sleeping pads add insulation and are required on AOA trips)
  • 4-Person Basecamping Tent ($55 per tent)
  • Bike rental is available through AOA. See the “Bike Rentals” tab below.

Optional Additions

*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 per)

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

Trip Dates


2018 Dates

  • October 18-21
  • October 25-28
  • November 1-4
  • November 8-11
  • November 15-18
  • November 29- December 2
  • December 6-9
  • December 13-16
  • December 27-30

2019 Dates

  • January 3-6
  • January 10-13
  • January 24-27
  • January 31- February 3
  • February 14-17
  • February 21-24
  • February 28- March 3
  • March 7-10
  • March 14-17
  • March 21-24
  • March 28-31
  • April 4-7
  • April 11-14
  • April 18-21
  • October 17-20
  • October 24-27
  • October 31- November 3
  • November 7-10
  • November 14-17
  • November 28- December 1
  • December 5-8
  • December 12-15
  • December 26-29

To see all multi-day guided tours, visit our Adventure Tour Calendar.

Bike Rentals

Bike Rental Options

This trip does not include a rental bike. AOA offers rental road bikes in various performance levels. Each road bike rental includes a helmet and flat repair kit, and can be set up to your basic fit requirements. You are welcome to bring your own pedals and saddle to use with our rental bikes.

Cancellation & Trip Policies

Reservations, Payments and Cancellation

AOA’s cycling 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.

This trip confirms with 2 guests. Grab a friend and your trip is guaranteed!

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.


Essential Eligibility Requirements

AOA’s goal is to provide challenging and meaningful experiences through guided and self-guided tours to unforgettable destinations. These criteria have been developed to help our guests identify the skills and abilities needed to successfully and fully participate in these tours. If you are unable to meet certain criteria, please contact us; we may be able to assist you with reasonable accommodation(s) unless it would change or otherwise risk the fundamental nature of the tour, would compromise your safety or the safety of other participants or guides, or would place an undue financial or administrative burden on AOA.

See the complete Essential Eligibility Requirements.


Travel Insurance

We recommend Travel Guard insurance.


Trip Itinerary


Experience the most scenic parks and portions of central Arizona from two wheels. Each day will bring a couple of hours in the saddle with plenty of options for shorter or longer rides. From gentle rolling hills to punchy climbs, the variety of terrain offered in the Sonoran Desert may surprise you. Wholesome guide prepared meals and professional ride support will let you focus on and enjoy the riding; we’ll take care of the rest.


8:00 AM – Meet your guides and fellow riders at our host hotel in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. After a quick meet and greet we’ll transfer via van to Usery Mountain Regional Park where we’ll begin familiarizing ourselves with our bikes and camp. After getting our bike fits and gear dialed in, we will set out for a 20-mile loop that takes us through the outskirts of Tonto National Forest and along the Salt River. We’ll tackle a brief climb, 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 journey-style road riding, you can put your feet up and prepare for a cycling adventure through the heart of the Sonoran Desert.

  • Cycling: 20 Miles, +1118 ft elevation gain
  • Meals: Breakfast on own, lunch and dinner included
  • Lodging: Camping at Usery Mountain Regional Park


The first full day of our journey begins with breakfast and preparing for a healthy day in the saddle. We’ll descend Usery Pass and follow the Salt River upstream where wild horses and other wildlife are commonly spotted. We’ll pass the historic Saguaro Lake Ranch as we climb out of the Salt River Canyon and through the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the town of Fountain Hills. As we approach our next camp, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, rolling hills turn into more gradual, drawn out climbs. Eat and rest up tonight as our longest day in the saddle comes tomorrow morning.

  • Cycling: 39 miles, +2069 ft elevation gain
  • Meals: All meals included
  • Lodging: Camping at McDowell Mountain Regional Park


Wake up surrounded by rugged, rocky mountains and rise from our comfortable basecamp, starting the day with a hot beverage and breakfast. Our journey continues west with 50+ miles over varying terrain. From “9-mile climb”, as the locals call it, to the pristine pavement of Sonoran Desert Drive, roll along some of the best roads in the Sonoran Desert on two wheels. With plenty of support and encouragement along the way, we’ll arrive to our final camp with time to relax over a hearty dinner and exchange stories from our day in the saddle.

  • Cycling: 52 miles, +2251 ft elevation gain
  • Meals: All meals included
  • Lodging: Camping at Cave Creek Regional Park


Our final day brings us through the town of Cave Creek and Carefree with one moderate climb to finish out a wonderful four days of riding. We’ll head south and descend on smooth and flowing roads to a scenic picnic lunch prepared by your guide. As the days begins to wind down we’ll return to our Scottsdale host hotel and conclude our journey of cycling through the Sonoran Desert.

  • Cycling: 35 miles, +1632 ft elevation gain
  • Meals: Breakfast and lunch included
  • Lodging: On your own tonight

Note about itinerary changes: We do our best to operate each trip as closely as possible to the published itinerary, however there are sometimes forces outside of our control that could require us to make adjustments to the operations of a trip. These include but are not limited to weather, natural disasters, road closures, park closures, campsite availability, emergency guest illness or injury.



Click here to see the routes we ride on this guided cycling trip.


Tips for Planning a Cycling trip

Looking to plan a road biking trip but not sure where to go? Read this blog to find out the best places for a road bike trip in the spring! 

While all of our road cycling tours have rider support, it’s still very important that you know the basics of bike maintenance before any ride. 

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.