2019 April 6 to 13
Cycle miles of pristine bike trails on this gay Arizona bicycling adventure. Enjoy city life in Tucson then ride south to see historic landmarks, rugged canyons, and blazing sunsets. Cross the border for a Mexican feast, and soak up the colorful character of the American Southwest. Read a personal account of this trip on our Gay Travel Blog.
Starting in Tucson, we’ll tour the city to get a bit of local color while getting used to our bikes, and then enjoy a welcome dinner. The next day we’ll make our way south through historic and Mexican-flavored neighborhoods before entering the San Xavier Indian Reservation. We’ll stop at the magnificent Mission San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1700 by Father Kino. From the mission, we’ll pedal through the Indian village of Bac, with its picturesque graveyard, and then plunge into the stark and sometimes startling landscape of the Sonoran desert on quiet Mission Road.
Our route follows the beautiful Santa Cruz River, a linear oasis in the desert. From the artists’ village of Tubac (Arizona’s oldest town) to the Tumacacori National Historic Park, there is plenty to see. We’ll learn of the cultural clashes between Spanish settlers and local Apaches, and see the beautiful remnants of the old, failed mission. Continuing southward we head to the border town of Nogales with its laid-back atmosphere and plenty of sights and shopping, and we’ll walk across the border for dinner. We’ll return to Tucson via an alternate route which will include a ride through Saguaro National Park. From the lush green grasslands to the sea of sand and desert, from cosmopolitan Tucson to honky-tonk Nogales, our Cycling Arizona tour offers plenty of variety, great rides and a chance to experience the Southwest like no other tour.
Most of our riders have found that road bikes (with drop-down handlebars, narrower seats and thinner tires) are most suitable for this trip. Therefore, if you rent bikes through us, these are the bikes we will rent for you. If you prefer a hybrid or other kind of bike, we will try to rent one in Tucson, but we cannot guarantee the availability of any particular type of bike.
Tucson is a happening town. It’s historic, it’s hip, it has great restaurants and fun nightlife. We’ll start with a bike tour of the town, to get acclimated to our bikes, the dry air, and the laconic pace of the desert Southwest. There are plenty of cycling paths in town and we will appreciate Tucson’s bike-friendly urban planners.
After breakfast, we ride south to the San Xavier Indian Reservation, where we’ll do the bulk of our riding today. First stop is the magnificent Mission San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1700 by Father Kino, where we visit the interesting museum, and the mission itself.
From the mission, we’ll pedal through the Indian village of Bac, with its picturesque graveyard, and then begin a climb into the arid landscape of the Sonoran desert on lonely Mission Road. After passing some enormous copper mines, our route slopes down to Green Valley, a town of retirees with wide bike lanes that also accommodate golf carts. Perhaps Green Valley’s most interesting attraction is the Titan Missile Museum, where you can see the only remaining missile of its kind – a full ten stories tall – and get a guided tour of the launching facility.
We’ll spend two nights in the sleepy cowboy village of Amado, but there will be plenty of things to keep us moving.
The next day offers several options, depending on the group. There’s great hiking in the nearby Santa Rita Mountains (which top off at well over 9000 feet); mountain biking on the famous Elephant Head trail, or up to the top of Mt. Hopkins with a visit to its observatory; horseback riding in nearby Rio Rico; or just doing some bird-watching from a hammock on the patio.
Hard-core cyclists will love the quiet, undulating road to hippyesque Arivaca and the tiny border town of Sasabe (the whole trip makes a perfect century). And you can even learn to cook for your dog at Dog Chefs of America, just down the road.
There’s a lot to see today on the road to Nogales. Our route follows the beautiful Santa Cruz River, a linear oasis in the desert. From the artists’ village of Tubac (Arizona’s oldest town), you can walk along the river in the shade of cottonwoods and sycamores until our next stop: Tumacacori National Historic Park. Here you’ll learn of the culture clashes between Spanish settlers and local Apaches, and see the beautiful remnants of the old, failed mission. Continuing southward toward the border, you’ll have the opportunity to make a scenic side trip to Pena Blanca Lake.
Nogales, USA is probably the most appealing town along the US-Mexican border, with a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of sights and shopping. We’ll stay on the American side of the border but have plenty of time to explore the shops along Avenida Obregon before dinner at an old mansion on the Mexican side, complete with margaritas and mariachis.
At only 33 miles, today is a shorter day of riding (though extra miles are always an option), taking us through beautiful forests up to the only grassland area in Arizona. Along the way, we can take a long detour to Patagonia Lake State Park and rent a rowboat, take a bird-watching hike along Patagonia Creek (owned by the Nature Conservancy), and stop for lunch in the charming, increasingly chic old village of Patagonia. Sonoita, tonight’s destination, is also the center for Arizona’s budding wine industry, boasting numerous good restaurants. This will be our home for the next two nights.
Today we offer a hilly 20-mile loop through southern Arizona’s wine country or a more strenuous 60-mile round trip to Parker Canyon Lake through scenic high desert forests of pine and oak.
From Sonoita, it’s mostly downhill back to Tucson (roughly 65 miles), on fantastically scenic Highway 83. Our ride includes an 8-mile cycling loop on Cactus Forest Drive through Saguaro National Park and a picnic lunch. From here it’s an easy ride back into town, with bike lanes the whole way. Now that we’ve seen a big chunk of Arizona, a farewell feast will top off the day.
Our tour ends after breakfast, so you can depart anytime today. We hope you enjoyed our Southwest Adventure!
Price includes: Comfortable hotels and bed-and-breakfasts that typify the region’s variety; Road bike and repair kit for the week; Services of a local gay guide and support van driver; All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners, with snacks and water refills along the way; Luggage transportation between hotels; Map and route instructions. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Transportation to and from Tucson; Transfers between Tucson airport and our hotel; Helmets and water bottles; Souvenirs, admissions; Gratuities for guides; Personal expenses such as phone, fax and beverages not included with meals.
Optional Tour Choices:
$900 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
“The balance of physical activity, vivid and stunning landscapes, the history, the food, and of course the camaraderie made this the nearly perfect getaway vacation! Thank you so much!”— Jim Ross, Philadelphia, PA
“Cycling through the desert in Arizona was a dream trip for me. The overall experience vastly exceeded my expectations. Our guides made the trip fun and easy. I loved everything about this trip.” – Karl A., Orlando, FL
“The desert is alive with blooms. The history is endless!”— Dennis Hauck, Minneapolis, MN
So are most of the people who travel with us. You do not need to pay extra to travel by yourself. Prices are per person, and the single supplement applies only if you’d like a room by yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts and ends in Tucson, Arizona.
For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174