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Arizona: Saguaro National Park & the Sonoran Desert

Soak in sprawling desert landscapes as you ride across vast, versatile ranges. Ride into the prolific “winery row,” where you’ll enjoy a picnic and educational tasting at a family-owned winery. Coast into artists’ colonies to see the work of local masters. At the Saguaro National Park, ride through its distinctive native namesake cacti found nowhere else on earth and explore the renowned Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, featuring hundreds of animal and plant species. VBT’s Arizona bike tour guides you along some of the American Southwest’s most stunning routes to unearth quintessential Arizona.

Tour Highlights

  • Sample Arizona’s surprising wines during a tasting and picnic at a winery featuring wines created from the West’s unique terroir
  • Explore the walking trails and fascinating exhibits of the highly regarded Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
  • Bike and picnic among the beautiful saguaro cacti of Saguaro National Park
  • Visit the Tumacácori National Historical Park for a self-guided tour, home to three Spanish mission communities and beautiful orchards and gardens
  • Savor local cuisine infused with Native American, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American influences

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills, ideal for beginning and experienced cyclists. Our VBT support vehicle is always available for those who would like assistance. This tour includes strategic shuttles on most days in order to access the best cycling routes, avoiding busy roads and repetitive scenery. Please note that it can be windy in February and temperatures are colder at night and in the morning.

  • Daily Mileage: 5 - 50 miles|
  • Biking: 3 - 5 hours|
  • Group Size: 20
Activity Easy/Moderate Easy / Moderate
Cycling
Bar Graph Beginner - Experienced
Cyclists
Vehicle Support Vehicle
Support

Average High /
Low Temperature (°F):

Feb68º/41º

Mar73º/44º

Apr81º/51º

Oct84º/57º

Nov73º/45º

Average
Precipitation:

Feb0.7 in

Mar0.7 in

Apr0.3 in

Oct0.9 in

Nov0.6 in

Tour Only

5 nights in two historic guest ranches Check
10 meals: 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners Check
Optional transportation from Tucson Airport to Tubac Golf Resort & Spa Check
Optional transportation from Hacienda de Sol to Tucson Airport Check

Road Bicycle (Carbon frame)

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Step-Through (Mixte Hybrid) Comfort Bicycle

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Step-Over (Diamond) Comfort Bicycle

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Electric-Assisted Bicycle (E-bike)

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Biking Packages Include:

Custom VBT Bike and Helmet

Two Local, Bilingual Trip Leaders

Support Vehicle

Luggage Transportation

Ride with GPS and Daily Route Notes

Welcome Reception

Facilitated Cultural Experiences

Your Choice of VBT Branded Gear for Your Adventure

Itinerary

Sun, Feb 19 to Fri, Feb 24 - 2023

Show Itinerary:

Make your own arrangements for travel to Arizona and to our first hotel. VBT offers a shuttle that departs from Tucson International Airport at 1:30 p.m. The shuttle works on a “show and go” basis. Reservations are not required. Your Top Shelf Transportation driver will meet you at the bottom of the escalator leading to the baggage claim carousels. The driver will be holding a VBT sign next to the seating area by baggage claim 2. The travel time to Tubac Golf Resort & Spa is approximately one hour.

If you are scheduled to arrive at the airport after the shuttle’s departure or if you are delayed, you must take a taxi at your own expense. For guests driving to the tour, we recommend that you park your vehicle at the Tucson International Airport and take the shuttle, as our tour ends in Tucson. Parking at the airport costs approximately $10 a day in the garage, or $4.50-$6 a day in the economy lot offsite. Or you can park at Hacienda del Sol for the week at no charge (please notify the hotel’s valet), and taxi to the Tucson International Airport to catch our shuttle to Tubac Golf Resort & Spa. Please contact the first hotel if any travel delays or changes occur; they will inform your VBT trip leaders. Please note: check in time is 4:00 p.m.

Upon arrival at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, take time to change into your biking clothes if you have not already done so. At 2:30 p.m., meet your group and your VBT trip leaders for the first day of your Arizona bike tour. After a safety and bike-fitting session, enjoy by a short warm-up ride. At 6:30 p.m., meet your fellow travelers during a tour orientation and welcome reception. Enjoy your welcome dinner at the resort. Get to know your traveling companions as you anticipate your vacation, highly rated among Arizona bike tours.

Today’s Ride Choices

Afternoon: Warm-up — 5 miles

What to Expect:

Get acquainted with your bicycle during a leisurely warm-up ride from Tubac. The ride is on a paved roads.

Cumulative Distance Range: 5 miles

Included Meals: Dinner

After breakfast, our cycling route delivers you to Arivaca Road for a ride experience in Southern Arizona Sonoran high desert. You can imagine being a settler trying to tame this rugged land when cycling here. The ride offers some of the best and most varied desert scenery in the southern part of Arizona. Pause at the Longhorn Grill in Amado or back in Tubac for lunch on your own.

After lunch, cycle to Tumacácori National Historical Park, a mission dating to the 17th century. Enjoy a self-guided visit of the mission, museum, orchard, garden, and walking trails. If you wish, you can also visit the family-owned and -operated Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Company. Afterward, there’ll be time to explore Tubac, a colorful artists’ colony where talented sculptors, painters, potters, artisans, and jewelers perfect their craft drawing inspiration from the magnificent desert landscapes.

Relax at the resort. If you desire a tee time or spa appointment during your stay, we recommend that you contact the resort prior to traveling.

Settle into your private hacienda and enjoy the rest of the evening. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Today’s Ride Choices

Morning: Tubac to Amado and Arivaca Road and back — 32 miles

Afternoon: Tubac to Tumacácori National Historical Park — 4 miles | Tumacácori to Tubac — 4 miles | Tubac Loop Ride Plus — 10 miles

What to Expect:

This morning, you ride on paved roads from the resort, first through a Border Patrol Checkpoint on a one-mile section on the interstate with a wide shoulder and slow speed limit. This stretch is used regularly by local cyclists. Once off the interstate, you will ride on Frontage Road next to the interstate to Amado, where you will turn onto Arivaca Road, ranked one of Arizona’s favorite road bike rides. This narrow, windy curvy road with some up and down hill climbing offers views of desert cactus, ranches and mountains off in the distance. Generally, you get a tailwind on the way back as you zoom back to Amado. Please note that there is a one-mile section on the interstate on the way back to Tubac with a wide shoulder and 75 mph speed limit. Again, local cyclists ride this stretch regularly. You may opt for a van shuttle from Amado to Tubac if you prefer to avoid riding this section. After lunch on your own, ride from the resort to Tumacácori National Historical Park. Here, enjoy a self-guided visit of the mission grounds and explore the museum and bookshop. After, cycle back to the center of Tubac to discover the town or return to the resort. Or choose to continue on your bike for an additional 10-mile loop through some of the residential roads and open terrain of Tubac.

Cumulative Distance Range: 8 — 50 miles

Included Meals: Breakfast

Today, shuttle from Tubac to Sonoita wine region. From a local winery, you cycle a loop through beautiful open range and over rolling hills. Enjoy a picnic lunch and a wine tasting at a small and locally owned winery in beautiful Elgin, Arizona—right in the middle of what has become known as “winery row.”  Your lunch will be enjoyed while taking in views of the vast landscape and grapevines. The tasting will include premium wines created with the focus of highlighting the uniqueness of the local terroir.

Later, board a shuttle to your Tucson hotel, a warm and authentic hacienda. Gather at the Terraza for al fresco dining, gazing out at the Santa Catalina mountains, and perhaps live music entertainment.

Today’s Ride Choices

Morning: Sonoita to Vineyard — 20 miles

What to Expect:

Start this morning with a one hour and 15-minute shuttle from Tubac Resort passed the town of Sonoita to the winery. From here, cycle Elgin Row on paved roads with rolling hills and open range. After a picnic lunch and wine tasting at a winery, you will shuttle (1.5 hours) to your hotel in Tucson. Settle in and regroup for dinner on the terrace.

Cumulative Distance Range: 20 miles

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, shuttle from Hacienda del Sol to Saguaro National Park, home to the remarkable Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This unusual museum boasts more than 300 animal species and 1,200 varieties of plants in a beautiful natural setting. You can start pedaling directly from the museum this morning to the Red Hills Visitor Center, to orient yourself to the Saguaro National Park, named for the distinctive large cacti that grow here and nowhere else on earth. It is pure pleasure to cycle this classic Arizona landscape that has come to epitomize the Southwest. At the visitor center, take in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and a short video if you choose. Your ride continues to the stunning Gates Pass in the dramatic Tucson Mountains. Then an exhilarating descent returns you to the desert museum. Enjoy lunch on your own in either of the museum’s two restaurants. There’ll be ample time to observe wild animals and desert plants, attend lectures, visit an art show, and take a self-guided tour along the two miles of walking trails. After your explorations, board a shuttle back to your Tucson hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Today’s Ride Choices

Morning: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum loop ride — 14 miles | Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum loop ride with Gates Pass — 19 miles

What to Expect:

Shuttle (45 minutes) this morning to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Start your ride to the Red Hills Visitor Center ride in the Saguaro National Park, with its endless views of large saguaro cacti. Those looking for a challenging climb may continue on Gates Pass Road (at 12.2 miles), a winding, hilly ride. This additional mileage follows a road with no shoulder and blind corners for 2.4 miles so it is only for more comfortable riders. Both options return to the museum for lunch and exploration on your own.

Please note: The rules in Saguaro National Park are strictly enforced. You must wear a helmet at all times when cycling in the park, and you must obey the speed limit and any traffic signs. Park rangers will issue tickets to offenders, including those speeding on downhill slopes.

Cumulative Distance Range: 14 — 15 miles

Included Meals: Breakfast

For your final ride of your Arizona bike tour, take a short shuttle from the hotel to a local bike shop where your cycling will begin. Today’s ride is a scenic route along the Old Spanish Trail into Saguaro National Park. Once in the park follow the one-way Loop Drive, for a thrilling cycle through the park. Your morning ride ends at the Javelina picnic area for a picnic lunch, a spectacular setting, gazing upon a desert terrain dotted with stunning saguaro cacti. Saguaro National Park, spread over 92,000 acres on the edge of the modern city of Tucson, protects some of the most impressive forests of these giant subtropical plants. After lunch, continue cycling through the park to returning Broadway Bicycles and then hop a ride to Hacienda del Sol. Be sure to leave time to stop and purchase an Arizona cycling jersey!

Tonight, celebrate with the group during a farewell dinner at Hacienda del Sol’s renowned restaurant, The Grill.

Today’s Ride Choices

Morning: Broadway Bikes to Saguaro National Park East — 23 miles

Afternoon: Saguaro National Park East to Broadway Bikes — 8 miles

What to Expect:

Take a short shuttle this morning from Hacienda Del Sol to Broadway Bicycles, located in Tucson. Visit the bicycle shop, a great place to purchase cycling gear. Cycle the Old Spanish Trail through Tucson toward Saguaro National Park East. In the park follow the one-way Loop Drive. Stopping for a picnic lunch prepared by your trip leaders. After, you may ride or shuttle back to Broadway Bicycles.

Please note: The rules in Saguaro National Park are strictly enforced. You must wear a helmet at all times when cycling in the park, and you must obey the speed limit and any traffic signs. Park rangers will issue tickets to offenders. BEWARE of the first downhill after the ranger tollbooth on the left.

Cumulative Distance Range: 8 — 31 miles

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Your Arizona bike tour concludes after an included breakfast at your hotel. VBT’s complimentary shuttle is available to take departing guests to the Tucson airport at 9:00 a.m., arriving approximately 40 minutes later. If you are flying out of Tucson, we suggest a flight no earlier than 12:00 p.m. Guests who need to get to the airport earlier or later must make their own arrangements.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Arizona: Saguaro National Park & the Sonoran Desert 21

Download PDF Itinerary:

Tour Only (PDF)

Accommodations (May vary depending on departure date. )

Reviews
39 out of 47 (83%)
4.6 out of 5 stars.
Read More Reviews

My first trip to Arizona could not have been more special or memorable. I had no idea that there were so many different types of cactus. This trip included a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum as well as rides through Bisbee, Tupac, Tucson and Sagauro National Park. The co-participants were fun and pleasant companions. The accommodations were wonderful. The guide leaders were extra ordinary, knowledgeable, competent, fun, and very accommodating with request. The guide leaders were local and were exceptional in reading the weather, our personal meteorologists.

Gma little, Santa Clara, CA, United States

Arizona: Saguaro National Park & the Sonoran Desert

We loved every minute of this tour thru the desert. Trip was well organized, the leaders (Jim and Kat) were knowledgeable about local history, geography, restaurants, culture...you name it. This was a great way to see the desert, had wonderful accommodations and food, trip lengths varied so that you could "pick your poison"...I can't say enough about how much fun my wife and I had on this trip. Totally exceeded our expectations for what this trip would be. We've signed up for another VBT trip next year and might do another one as well in the spring.

T and K from VB, Virginia Beach

Arizona: Saguaro National Park & the Sonoran Desert

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7 Days. Includes bike vacation only.

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For more information, call: 800-245-3868

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