Once the holidays have come and gone it’s time to get to Tucson to put in some miles. With pleasant temperatures, moderate altitude and lots of sunshine, the Tucson area makes for harmonious bike rides. With a cyclist’s eye, we’ve compiled our favorite Southern Arizona places to ride in our guide to Tucson.
The city is ringed by 4 mountain ranges, so our March itinerary includes exploring the summits and canyons of these natural wonders. Climbing, rewarding views and descents are where it’s at in this Tucson biking mecca.
It is a true taste of the “Old West” with some of the most varied desert scenery in the southern part of Arizona. The gentle climb past desert cacti on winding roads makes for an award-winning day.
The Colossal Cave route is one of the most popular and safest rides in the area with an extensive, paved bike path with miles to explore. Start your ride through the wide Green Valley and finish with a nice climb to the cave. Great mountain views, quiet roads and desert flowers greet you. Cap it off with a tour of the cave, filled with stalagmites and stalactites.
Mt Lemmon and Sky Island
There are few places that offer more varied and challenging mountain cycling routes and road biking routes than Tucson. Mount Lemmon’s 26-mile climb at a 4.3% average grade is one of the most popular road cycling climbs in America and the climb pays off with the memorable views!
You’ll travel through seven life zones in the Coronado National Forest. Saguaro Cacti give way to hoodoos and balanced rocks during the day. Anyone looking for “bragging rights”, the Sky Island route is the longest climb in the state, by the end of the day you will have earned over 6000 ft of elevation.
Old Spanish Trail
The city of Tucson is filled with paved bicycle paths along the canals and washes of the area. Routes connecting the paths make for a very enjoyable tour through the city.
Connecting to The Old Spanish Trail road brings the route along the foothills of the Rincon Mountains and into the desert “boonies”. Extend the tour by entering the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park for a rolling loop through the blooming cacti.
Saguaro National Park
The smooth roads that circle Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park take you through extraordinarily beautiful landscapes. You’ll find yourself stopping to get “just one more photo” along the way. The few ups and downs through the Tucson Mountain Parks culminate at Gates Pass with sweeping views of Tucson and the surrounding mountains. Take a moment to enjoy all the desert has to offer before your thrilling descent back to town.
Pro Tip: Bring extra clothes for the ride to the start, it can be below freezing before the sun rises in Tucson.
If this itinerary interests you, please join us in March and ride with knowledgeable guides on a fully supported adventure. Our full itinerary is here.