If you’re looking for a cycling trip where you can enjoy food, shopping, friendly towns, resort amenities, and outdoor activities — along with all the road biking you could want — a winter road biking trip in Scottsdale should be at the top of your cycling bucket list.
Scottsdale is located in central Arizona, within the Sonoran Desert. The area receives more rainfall than any other desert, making it rich in flora and fauna and a tranquil setting for Scottsdale’s renowned resorts. These unique factors make Scottsdale a special place to visit during the winter and spring when the region is bursting with colorful flowers. There are many reasons that the Sonoran Desert is a great destination for your next winter road bike trip. Here are the top 5:
In northerly climates, there is a saying about the seasons: “There are two of them — winter and road construction.” Rainfall wreaks havoc on pavement in many areas, but in the desert, the lack of rainfall keeps the tarmac in great condition all year long. The population of Scottsdale grew rapidly in the 1980s and 90s, which means many of the roads are new, wide, and offer safe and welcoming bike lanes.
It’s easy to put together a 100 mile day on the wide, open roads of Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert. Cruise along undulating roads bordered by towering saguaro cactus and enjoy the mixture of views as you encounter undeveloped desert, old west charm, and communities designed to impeccably blend in with the surrounding landscape. The winter climate in Scottsdale is so mild that you can wait until after breakfast to start your big day and still be done in time for an afternoon beer in the sunshine.
If elevation is what you’re after, this part of the Sonoran Desert has that too. The small mountain ranges throughout central Arizona offer the leg-burn many road cyclists seek. Check out iconic South Mountain, where the summit road closes to vehicles one weekend a month to offer dedicated riding just for bikes. Or, head north into the Tonto National Forest where the road to Bartlett lake will challenge you in just the right way.
Though Scottsdale is just a small city just down the road from Phoenix, Arizona it has become famous as a spa destination and offers a wide array of resorts and hotel accommodations. You can find classic western-inspired affairs, like the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North, as well as hip mid-century oases, like Hotel Valley Ho and The Saguaro. Take your pick — Scottsdale is small enough that nearly every hotel in the area offers great access to beautiful road bike routes.
Downtown Scottsdale offers a mix of small retail shops, old western haunts, nightlife, museums (don’t miss Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West!), and green spaces. Stay further out towards the edge of town and surround yourself with the ethereal natural beauty of the desert.
Head out on any weekend and you’ll see dozens of fellow riders enjoying the same streets. Shops across town hold popular group rides nearly every day of the week. Bring your bike and find some new friends to show you around. If you aren’t interested in the hassle of traveling with your bike, rent from Arizona Outback Adventures’ fleet of high-end Trek and Specialized carbon bikes. Better yet, join a fully-supported and guided road cycling trip with AOA! No matter how you choose to travel, there are other cyclists out there waiting to show you the best riding that Scottsdale has to offer.
The smooth sun-warmed roads in Scottsdale, Arizona make for enjoyable long scenic rides past towering saguaro cactus punctuated by challenging climbs. The diversity of route options makes the area great for the casual rider, the visiting triathlete, or the avid cyclist. After a trip to Scottsdale, you might just be convinced to turn this winter cycling vacation into your permanent second home that you return to every year.