Southern Arizona Tour
7 Day Tour
Meet Saturday, March 19; ride Sunday, March 20-26, 2016
Total cost due at the time of registration: $1040 ($40 member discount on this price)
Single supplement: $550
Rider limit: 20
Tour leaders: Sue Matthews & Ken Condray
The Arizona Escape tour explores southern Arizona, starting and ending in Tucson. The route heads south and east, to explore canyons, creeks, and wildlife preserves where birds abound, through historic towns skirting the Mexican border, and visits military sites, missions, national monuments, and amazing caverns. This 407 mile, 7 day tour provides BASIC support (see detail), a small group, lightly traveled roads, variety in scenery, and a chance to escape the spring gloom in Washington and find the sun in Arizona. This tour includes lodging for 8 nights.
What to expect
This tour provides a BASIC level of support. This differs from the STANDARD level of support (as described on the Club Tours FAQ page.) This tour does not provide lunch on route and provides only one SAG vehicle (a passenger van). BASIC support is otherwise identical to STANDARD support.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
This tour is rated as Moderate. This tour has a 68-mile daily average though one day is over 80 miles. There is significant climbing in the first three days. Riders should be able to cycle comfortably 60-80 miles at a moderate pace and climb extended stretches with grades ranging from 4% - 7%. Although most of the route generally has very light traffic, there are few paved roads in southern Arizona so we will occasionally find ourselves on highways with significant traffic. Wind is often a factor.
March in southern Arizona is generally warm and dry, but we have seen cool temps as well as occasional rain. Arizona in springtime is often windy.
This tour will provide snacks and beverages on route. With the exception of dinner and breakfast in Madera Canyon, meals are the responsibility of the rider. Some of our accommodations provide continental breakfast. Restaurants are available at all overnight destinations with the exception of Madera Canyon. There are restaurants and grocery stores on route each day and the SAG vehicle will carry your lunch when necessary.
Quality of lodging varies from basic to quite nice. Our rest day in Bisbee is in a suites hotels - suites have two bedrooms that share a common living room and kitchen.
Go Green! Tucson is approximately 1,500 miles from Seattle. We encourage carpooling, flying or AMTRAK. Our Tucson hotel has a shuttle serving the airport. AMTRAK also serves Tucson.
WHAT TO BRING
This tour supports its participants with one vehicle – a passenger van. Because of the small cargo area, the group will be small and all participants will be restricted to one small day bag and an overnight bag comparable to what is allowed as airline carry-on.
All elevations were computed using RidewithGPS. Actual elevations are generally less than stated.
Saturday, March 19
We meet the first night in Tucson and get to know each other during a brief informational meeting.
Sunday, March 20
Tucson to Madera Canyon, 46 miles – approximately 3300’
We quickly ride out of town and onto quiet roads through open lands with a variety of desert vegetation. We make two stops at Tucson landmarks – the 300 year old restored San Xavier del Bac Mission and the Titan Missile Museum. After lunch and a tour of the museum we’ll begin climbing through Madera Canyon, watching for frequent signs of wildlife. Our night’s lodging is remote and isolated, so we’ll treat you to both a simple dinner and breakfast the next morning while you relax and enjoy your surroundings.
Monday, March 21
Madera Canyon to Patagonia - 68 miles, approximately 2,400’
After starting the morning with a wonderful descent, we’ll roll through the Santa Cruz River Valley on our way to Tubac, an artist colony situated on high chaparral. You’ll have an opportunity to explore this town and its Presidio before continuing on to the well preserved Mission Tumacori, a National Monument. Near our night’s stop in Patagonia, you’ll see the influence of water in the Sonoita Creek Preserve area. Our destination hotel stands on the actual site of the Patagonia stage stop on the old Butterfield Trail.
Tuesday, March 22
Patagonia to Bisbee, 83 miles, approximately 4,700
We’re likely to have a tailwind as we start the day, but this is probably our toughest day and incredibly scenic and interesting. We begin climbing through grasslands dotted with vineyards, cattle, horses, and antelope. We’ll view the Huachuca mountains on our climb toward Fort Huachuca, where we’ll have lunch and time to explore the fort and its museums. Headed downhill after lunch, we’ll pass through another wildlife refuge before beginning a slight climb along the highway, noting the border fencing on our way to Bisbee.
Wednesday, March 23
Enjoy your rest day in Bisbee. Stroll through the museum, wander the streets and shops, take advantage of the Mine Tour, catch open mike night at St. Elmo’s, the oldest bar in Arizona. Your lodging is in a suite hotel, each two-bedroom unit sharing a living room and full kitchen. You will have access to free laundry facilities.
Thursday, March 24
Bisbee to Sonoita – 75 miles – approximately 3,400’
We’ll begin the day with a gradual climb before our long descent toward Tombstone, the “Town too tough to Die”. Although we'll be a bit too early for the gunfight show, you can enjoy the renovated Victorian structures that help keep history alive in one of the most popular tourist destinations in Arizona. After another stretch of gradual downhill, we will head west and start climbing again toward Sonoita, where we will spend the next two nights.
Friday, March 25
Sonoita to Sonoita, 64 miles, approximately 2,000’
Today is relatively easy, but has an incredible attraction – Kartchner Caverns. Enjoy a memorable tour through this stunning “live” limestone cave with its wide variety of unique minerals and formations.
Saturday, March 26
Sonoita to Tucson - 70 miles, approximately 2,000’
After a short climb, we start gradually losing elevation on our route to Tucson. On our way, we’ll stop to enjoy Saguaro National Park and its Cactus Forest Drive – truly not to be missed. We eventually find ourselves back in Tucson, where we started. Take your time today – your tour cost covers your Saturday overnight in Tucson before beginning your travel home.