I'm looking for suggestions for a tandem tour near Flagstaff. We will be dropping our son off at a bike training camp in June and thought a little tour while he is at camp would be nice. Sedona and/or the Grand Canyon look like nice possible destinations. Any comments on what the roads are like? We're driving out from California and would carry rear panniers.
June/summer is a bit busy in that neck of the woods with lotsa tourists/motorhomes on the road. However, with the gas prices maybe traffic will be less than usual.
Here is a tour we've done several times on our tandem. A 200 mile loop from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon (south rim) and back. 3 or 4 days, depending on how used you are at hills and higher altitude, up to just over 8,000 feet.
Start in Flag and head north on Hwy 180 (near the Flag train depot). A bit narrow/busy for the first several miles. Ride 51 miles up to the miniscule town of Valle. There's one motel in town (maybe more by now) and a couple restaurants. Then northward on Hwy 64 to Tusayan; lots of motels, lots of restaurants and a couple campgrounds. Or pedal on to Grand Canyon Village and overnite there. About 30 miles.
From there leave early (well before 9 a.m.) to avoid the motorhomes and head toward Cameron about 57 hilly miles away. Lots of overlooks for Canyon views on the left side of the road. Do not try to 'rubberneck' as you pedal by; stop and look. Last good overview is at Desert View (food, bathrooms, souvenirs and great views). As you leave the park proper, traffic will greatly diminish; eventually you hit one hell of a downhill for miles; speeds of 50 mph not unusual. Some Indian souvernir stands along the way and vast expanses. You''ll hit the T-intersectiin with Hwy 89. Turn left to get to Cameron. One motel and do try their Navajo Taco (good and huge!) but no booze allowed, Indian reservation rules. Leave Cameron and head back toward Flag about 51 hilly miles. You'll climb up to small town of Grey Mountain with 2 motels and couple restaurants. Then long climb back up to Flagstaff.
Do make motel reservations NOW. You can overnite in Valle, Tusayan, Grand Canyon Viillage, Cameron or Grey Mountain . . . your call. No Starbux, 7-11's or convenience stores.
Options for 1 day trips. Flagstaff to Sunset Crater loop; much hefty climbing but worth it with Indian ruins at Wupatki and lava formations. Or for shorter/less streneous ride go to Walnut Canyon . . . do take the tour of the canyon.
Other 1 day ride; Flag south toward Sedona on 89A. Ride past Lake Mary and do the turnoff at Mormon Lake and ride that loop then back to Flag. One good restaurant on the Mormon Lake loop.
Or, go all way down Oak Creek Canyon into Sedona. Beware, very busy narrow road and switchbacks going down Oak Creek Canyon; you will do lots of braking. Do not attempt to do this on a weekend. Do not ride back up Oak Creek Canyon, you'll be much too slow and in the way of northbound traffic. Arrange for someone to pick you up for the trip back up the canyon. But spectacular views on the way down. Sedona is VERY touristy and very busy . . . do the Pink Jeep tour for a fun experience.
Do pack x-tra water and use sunscreen! Low humidity and high altitude will let you sunburn f-a-s-t!
Hope this is of some help!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem
If you have time a good ride in the park is to hermits rest. 16 miles round trip there and the good thing is that privet cars are not aloud on it unless of they are handicapped at least not in summer months. I think there working on the road right now. I used to live and work in the canyon. Its a good ride Iv done it a lot..
Agree, ride to Hermits Rest is great. However, you could instead park the tandem and take the nice free leisurely shuttle/tram instead of pedaling UP to Hermits Rest.
If you're into architecture, a great female architect by the name of Coulter designed Hermits Rest, the Grand Canyon Lodge and the Desert View Tower in the park.
Also there is a great steam train ride from town of Williams to the Grand Canyon and back for a real change of scenery that even includes a 'train robbery'. Lots of stuff to see and do. Enjoy!
Pedal on TWOgether!
Rudy and Kay/zonatandem.
I live in Houston now but I wish I was still in the canyon and northern AZ. There is so much stuff to do out there I love it. Hiking, biking, skiing, ever thing and the best beer. Flag has some good microbreweries! And good bike shops. AZ bikes and Absolute bikes come to mind. I got my Specialized hard rock comp at absolute. Speaking of Mary Coulter. I used to work at Hopi House while I was out there. I completely feel in love with Native American culcher in my time there.
Have you been to Jerrome?
I just moved back to Houston this new years and I miss the GC dearly from just living there for a year.
Thanks to all for their advice and especially to Zonadandem for all the detail and the info on the road to Sedona. We'll probably do the Grand Canyon direction but we do have a friend in Flagstaff, so perhaps the one-way to Sedona and a ride back as well.
FishyWarren: have we been to Jerome?
Yup, one hell of a ride! Did the first Answer to the Arizona Challenge Ride back in the 80s. 3 day ride with 325 miles to pedal with about 23,000 ft. of climbing
Day #1: 100 miles. Started in Phoenix, rode up the Mogollon Rim to Strawberry. Great pie!
Day #2: 100 miles. Down Capt. Crooks Trail through Cottonwood (temps in the high 80s at 10 a.m.) and 'up' to Jerome and to top of Mingus Mountain and then into Prescott.
Day #3: 125 miles. Prescott to Phoenix where we finished at a 'warm' 104 degrees!
This was done on our tandem on a Memorial Day weekend. We were the only tandem to do hat event.
My stoker Kay did not volunteer to do this ride again.
Note: The next year on that ride it snowed at the top of Mingus Mountain!
Have done Grand Canyon North Rim, Jacobs Lake to the Canyon and back.
Done the Grand Canyon to Mexico tour 4 times on our tandem and once on my single bike.
Some really great riding in Arizona (been riding/living here for 30 years).
wtandem: do get to Sedona, either by bike or by car; spectacular red rock country!