Sonoran Desert Road Cycling Tour

Road Cycling
ArizonaSonoran Desert
Tour Length
4 days, 3 nights
Guide Type
Moderate to Advanced

AOA is now a part of the REI Co-op and this trip is being offered directly through REI. It will still be operated by the same great guides who call the Southwest home, and we’re excited to bring you more adventure travel trips like this as a part of the REI family.

See trip details

More about REI & AOA

Mild winter temperatures and warm spring weather make Arizona the perfect destination for cycling trips. Spend four days road cycling and camping in the heart of the Sonoran Desert on this bike adventure. 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.

This trip offers the excitement of adventure touring, without the commitment of buying expensive new gear and a touring bike, and removes the challenge of route planning. It’s perfect for the cyclist who wants more adventure but is still looking for some of the creature comforts they are used to in their road cycling holidays.

What's Included

Tour Price Includes

  • Round-trip ground transportation from Scottsdale host hotel
  • 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

Upgrades + Additions

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 rates below).
Rent A Bike For Your Trip

Other Additions

  • 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 (8.05%).
Cyclists take a water break on Sonoran Desert road bike tour

Meet your guides and fellow riders at our host hotel in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona. 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. AOA has options for rental road bikes or a more casual trek touring hybrid, or you may choose to travel with your own bike. After getting our bikes fitted 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 road cycling adventure through the heart of the Sonoran Desert.


20 Miles, +1118 ft elevation gain


Breakfast on own, lunch and dinner included

Cyclists take a water break on Sonoran Desert road bike tour
Camping tent set up next to desert cactus

The first full day of our touring journey begins with breakfast 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. This ride will take us past the historic Saguaro Lake Ranch for an exciting climb out of the Salt River Canyon, onto land owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and through 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 tomorrow is our longest day of this road cycling tour.


39 miles, +2069 ft elevation gain


All meals included

Camping tent set up next to desert cactus
Roasting marshmallows over campfire on Sonoran Desert cycling tour

Wake up surrounded by rugged, rocky mountains and rise from our comfortable basecamp, starting the day with a hot pick-me-up and breakfast. Today, our bike trip takes us west over 50+ miles of varying terrain. From “9-mile climb”, as the locals call it, to the pristine pavement of Sonoran Desert Drive, this route allows you to roll along some of the best roads in the Sonoran Desert while sinking into the rhythm that adventure cycling offers through point-to-point touring. 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.


52 miles, +2251 ft elevation gain


All meals included

Roasting marshmallows over campfire on Sonoran Desert cycling tour
Bike group rides Sonoran Desert road on road cycling trip

The final day of your road cycling trip brings the route through the towns of Cave Creek and Carefree, Arizona, throwing one moderate climb at you to finish out a wonderful four day cycle tour. We’ll head south and descend on smooth and flowing roads to a scenic picnic lunch prepared by your guide. As the day begins to wind down we’ll return to our Scottsdale host hotel and conclude our journey of road cycling through the Sonoran Desert.


35 miles, +1632 ft elevation gain


Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own

Bike group rides Sonoran Desert road on road cycling trip

Nitty Gritty

AOA’s adventures might challenge you, but we don’t want them to surprise you, these Nitty Gritty details can help you decide if this the right trip for you.

Comforts of Home

Electricity: During this trip there will be limited access to electricity. We recommend bringing a portable battery pack to charge your phone for photos.

Showers: Hot showers are available each day of this trip, but camping at the end of a long day of riding inevitably pushes us outside of our comfort zone.

Minimum Age: 14
Max Group Size: 12

Rides & Camp

On this trip we camp in public campgrounds that allow us to ride point to point on some of Arizona’s best roads. We select sites with the best privacy, but we may have other travelers as neighbors. On this trip we will move to a new camp each day, your luggage will be transferred for you, but you will have to help settle your personal things in each night.

Trip Ratings