Explore the Sonoran Desert By Bike
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
+Permits & Land Fees: $12 pp*
*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
Sonoran Desert Cycling Trip
Price & Inclusions
TRIP PRICE- $1195 PP
+Permits & Land Use Fees: $12 pp*
- Price is per person.
- Book a 2018 trip online and use the code NIFTY50 for $50 off per person.
*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
- 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)
- 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 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
- 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.
*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%)
- January 4-7
- January 11-14
- January 25-28
- February 1-4
- February 15-18
- February 22-25
- March 1-4
- March 8-11
- March 15-18
- March 22-25
- March 29- April 1
- April 5-8
- April 12-15
- April 19-22
- 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
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 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.
Reservation & Cancellation Policy
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.
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.
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.
DAY 1: USERY MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK
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
DAY 2: USERY MOUNTAIN TO MCDOWELL 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
DAY 3: MCDOWELL MOUNTAIN TO CAVE CREEK 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
DAY 4: 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
CHECK OUT THIS TRIP’S ROUTE
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.