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Desert southwest wintertime backpacking

Old 02-17-21, 11:42 AM
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Desert southwest wintertime backpacking

The far southwest is a great place to get in some wintertime bikepacking/touring if you get a chance.

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Old 02-17-21, 02:33 PM
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love tucson and “the loop.”
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Old 02-17-21, 07:01 PM
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I gave this a serious look for this winter. It seemed that one would get into some seriously cold nights. Phoenix area looked warmer but Tucson looked much prettier. I felt bikepacking Tucson during March/April was the sweet spot.
I wonder if this area got the cold front that is kicking Texas' ass right now
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Old 02-17-21, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
I gave this a serious look for this winter. It seemed that one would get into some seriously cold nights. Phoenix area looked warmer but Tucson looked much prettier. I felt bikepacking Tucson during March/April was the sweet spot.
I wonder if this area got the cold front that is kicking Texas' ass right now
We have not! And normally it's unusual for Tucson to drop much below freezing winter nights. There is a lot of beautiful country around here.
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Old 02-19-21, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Hanson View Post
We have not! And normally it's unusual for Tucson to drop much below freezing winter nights. There is a lot of beautiful country around here.
What about the areas nearby, I was checking them out and night temps seemed solidly below freezing. For camping and backpacking it is fine but those temps on a bike can be rough.
What I thought might be best is to rent a house for the trip and do day trips, midday temps are great in this area during February. Plus my wife likes the idea of a house/apt.

Do you have any suggestions best places to stay for about a month? Downtown Tucson? or more out in the country. Not looking to spend a fortune
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Old 02-19-21, 05:42 PM
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There's a lot of elevation variation around southern Arizona, so lows can vary by a lot. Tucson is at 2,300-2,500 feet, the nearby mountains are 9,000, grassland around the Dragoon Mountains and on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is around 5,000 and nights there can be in the 20s.

I think a long-term Air BnB would be your best bet. Downtown Tucson has had a complete revival and is a great restaurant/pub area. Nice day rides would include Saguaro National Park East and/or West, or, using a vehicle to access, the Buenos Aires (dirt roads), west side of the Dragoons (likewise), or Redington Pass (likewise). Ride over Gates Pass on west Speedway and out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum—the latter not to be missed whether or not you ride there.

If you like paved roads and climbs, Mount Lemmon is a good one, as it Kitt Peak to the observatory.

Does that help?
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Old 02-20-21, 08:57 AM
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My wife and I are spending four months in Tucson in an AirBnB this winter. The road cycling here is the main reason we're here. I've ridden to Summerhaven (Mt Lemmon) four times so far (75 RT miles from our house) and plan on going again on Monday. Today I'm car-shuttling my wife down to the DeAnza Trail near Tubac and riding the 50 miles back. Last weekend I rode the 75 miles RT out to Oracle to pay homage to Edward Abbey, who's buried in a unmarked grave somewhere near there. I've been averaging over 150 miles/week on day rides like that. A few years ago we rode a short multi-day loop tour from here to Kartchner Caverns, Patagonia, and Nogales. I ride The Loop at least once a week (the wife and I did it yesterday), with some variations out to Colossal Caverns, or the San Xavier del Bac Mission, for some 70 and 80 mile days. The 50 mile loop out Gates Pass Rd, through Saguaro NP, and back on Picture Rocks Road is fantastic. The only complaints I have are the condition of the pavement on many of the roads, and the amount of litter.

A nephew who lives here is luke-warm on the mountain biking. He moved here from Albuquerque, and misses the trails around there. He says the trails here are crowded, and not as interesting as he prefers. That's just one guy's opinion.
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Old 02-20-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Hanson View Post
There's a lot of elevation variation around southern Arizona, so lows can vary by a lot. Tucson is at 2,300-2,500 feet, the nearby mountains are 9,000, grassland around the Dragoon Mountains and on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is around 5,000 and nights there can be in the 20s.

I think a long-term Air BnB would be your best bet. Downtown Tucson has had a complete revival and is a great restaurant/pub area. Nice day rides would include Saguaro National Park East and/or West, or, using a vehicle to access, the Buenos Aires (dirt roads), west side of the Dragoons (likewise), or Redington Pass (likewise). Ride over Gates Pass on west Speedway and out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum—the latter not to be missed whether or not you ride there.

If you like paved roads and climbs, Mount Lemmon is a good one, as it Kitt Peak to the observatory.

Does that help?
Thanks, lots of good info. Some I was aware and some new possibilities. I was also looking into the Bisbee area, has some interesting sites.

Thanks so much
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Old 02-20-21, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
My wife and I are spending four months in Tucson in an AirBnB this winter. The road cycling here is the main reason we're here. I've ridden to Summerhaven (Mt Lemmon) four times so far (75 RT miles from our house) and plan on going again on Monday. Today I'm car-shuttling my wife down to the DeAnza Trail near Tubac and riding the 50 miles back. Last weekend I rode the 75 miles RT out to Oracle to pay homage to Edward Abbey, who's buried in a unmarked grave somewhere near there. I've been averaging over 150 miles/week on day rides like that. A few years ago we rode a short multi-day loop tour from here to Kartchner Caverns, Patagonia, and Nogales. I ride The Loop at least once a week (the wife and I did it yesterday), with some variations out to Colossal Caverns, or the San Xavier del Bac Mission, for some 70 and 80 mile days. The 50 mile loop out Gates Pass Rd, through Saguaro NP, and back on Picture Rocks Road is fantastic. The only complaints I have are the condition of the pavement on many of the roads, and the amount of litter.

A nephew who lives here is luke-warm on the mountain biking. He moved here from Albuquerque, and misses the trails around there. He says the trails here are crowded, and not as interesting as he prefers. That's just one guy's opinion.
4 months!! Nice place to be for winter. Did you rent a house, small apt? The prices were all over the place when I was looking earlier this year. Currently the Texas cold has moved eastward and we have some icy cold conditions here. It has been 5 days since I rode last and doubt I'll be riding anytime soon, tonights lows are predicted to be in the teens, ugh! If I ride studs will be needed.
Thanks for the tips, I hope to spend a chunk of next winter out there.
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Old 02-20-21, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Last weekend I rode the 75 miles RT out to Oracle to pay homage to Edward Abbey, who's buried in a unmarked grave somewhere near there..
Love this guy. I grew up in Utah in the 60's and we used to visit the Arches, Bryce, ZIon etc when the roads were dirt, no bathroom just pit toilets. Abbey describes those parks just like I remember them, I am sure I passed near him while he was working there. Weren't many people there in those days.
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Old 02-20-21, 12:54 PM
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Better yet, how about going to Palm Springs, park and tour around a big (warm) loop where instead of a low of 34 it's 54 degrees and you can camp and carry on without using hotels. If anyone is interested. I have come up with a nice route.
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Old 02-20-21, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
4 months!! Nice place to be for winter. Did you rent a house, small apt? The prices were all over the place when I was looking earlier this year. Currently the Texas cold has moved eastward and we have some icy cold conditions here. It has been 5 days since I rode last and doubt I'll be riding anytime soon, tonights lows are predicted to be in the teens, ugh! If I ride studs will be needed.
Thanks for the tips, I hope to spend a chunk of next winter out there.
We booked the lower level in a house, 1 bed 1 bath, in working class neighborhood, nice enough but definitely not a vacation resort. $1800/mo. Booked it in mid summer. Might stay at the same place next winter.

Just got back from Tubac. Pretty nice ride along the Nogales Hwy, nasty pavement in a few spots and lots of litter as I've come to expect.
​​​​​​​
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Old 02-22-21, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
We booked the lower level in a house, 1 bed 1 bath, in working class neighborhood, nice enough but definitely not a vacation resort. $1800/mo. Booked it in mid summer. Might stay at the same place next winter.

Just got back from Tubac. Pretty nice ride along the Nogales Hwy, nasty pavement in a few spots and lots of litter as I've come to expect.
I am not a resort kinda guy. A simple little place is all we need. Either in town or out in the country.
​​​​​​​ Thanks for the information, might go there in April. I finally got my 1st vaccine shot next one is schedule for late March. Looking at Airbnb now. Another snowy/icy storm passing through the Mid-Atlantic again. I need me some sun.
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Old 02-22-21, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Better yet, how about going to Palm Springs, park and tour around a big (warm) loop where instead of a low of 34 it's 54 degrees and you can camp and carry on without using hotels. If anyone is interested. I have come up with a nice route.
Thanks, I will check this area out too. I have family in S. Cal so might be able to knock out 2 birds with one stick. I love Joshua tree area. I have actually created a bike route through the park and beyond.
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Old 02-22-21, 04:01 PM
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If you like paved roads and climbs, Mount Lemmon is a good one, as it Kitt Peak to the observatory.

Does that help?[/QUOTE]

How is the road surface on Ajo road to the observatory? It used to be really rough. I see they repaved Gates Pass so I'm hoping it's improved.
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Old 02-24-21, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Antoine Zurfluh View Post
If you like paved roads and climbs, Mount Lemmon is a good one, as it Kitt Peak to the observatory.

Does that help?
How is the road surface on Ajo road to the observatory? It used to be really rough. I see they repaved Gates Pass so I'm hoping it's improved.[/QUOTE]

Ajo has been completely redone out to Ryan Field, and beyond that is not bad at all. The actual road up to Kitt Peak is fine going up, but you want to watch your speed on the way down.
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Old 02-24-21, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonathan Hanson View Post
How is the road surface on Ajo road to the observatory? It used to be really rough. I see they repaved Gates Pass so I'm hoping it's improved.
Ajo has been completely redone out to Ryan Field, and beyond that is not bad at all. The actual road up to Kitt Peak is fine going up, but you want to watch your speed on the way down.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the update! I'm heading out there tomorrow. I'll sleep better tonight.
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Old 03-02-21, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Better yet, how about going to Palm Springs, park and tour around a big (warm) loop where instead of a low of 34 it's 54 degrees and you can camp and carry on without using hotels. If anyone is interested. I have come up with a nice route.
Sounds great! Can you share some route info?

Thanks,
Brad
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Old 03-03-21, 10:17 AM
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Palm Springs bike touring

Originally Posted by zebkedic View Post
Sounds great! Can you share some route info?

Thanks,
Brad
Hi,
Park at the airport in Thermal
Ride south on the east side of the Salton Sea. To Brawley.
From Brawley ride to Ocatillo.
From Ocatillo ride to Borrego Springs.
From Borrego Springs take Sage road to Hemet.
From Hemet ride to Beaumnt and then parallel the I-10 to Palm Springs and back to Thermal.
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Old 03-03-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Hi,
Park at the airport in Thermal
Ride south on the east side of the Salton Sea. To Brawley.
From Brawley ride to Ocatillo.
From Ocatillo ride to Borrego Springs.
From Borrego Springs take Sage road to Hemet.
From Hemet ride to Beaumnt and then parallel the I-10 to Palm Springs and back to Thermal.
this neglects to mention that little hc climb up montezuma grade from borrego springs to ranchita. banner grade to the south from banner to julian ain’t much better. the s2 from scissors crossing to the s2/s22 junction is your easiest escape from the desert.
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Old 03-03-21, 08:39 PM
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This neglect to show tons of stuff I am sure, as it is just a basic route outline. I do not know that this was supposed to be an escape from the desert??? My intended was as a desert route. Or maybe a route implied for flatlanders/ or tourists allergic to hills??? You lost me man.
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Old 03-07-21, 06:42 PM
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Desert southwest wintertime backpacking

Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
Hi,
Park at the airport in Thermal
Ride south on the east side of the Salton Sea. To Brawley.
From Brawley ride to Ocatillo.
From Ocatillo ride to Borrego Springs.
From Borrego Springs take Sage road to Hemet.
From Hemet ride to Beaumnt and then parallel the I-10 to Palm Springs and back to Thermal.
Looks like a fun ride. I'll check it out!
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Old 03-15-21, 07:43 PM
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In December the road to Kitt Peak was locked and closed. A COVID closure.

We also did an airbnb in Tucson. I like the area around Dodge Street and Grant Road for easy access to The Loop and being close to everything. I suspect it isn't the best part of town as we saw quite a few homeless people - but for cycling it was a good location. If you like to road ride, north of Tangerine Road is a good area. That's up in Oro Valley.

I spent 10 days alone in Tucson in February. I rode 543 miles over the ten days. I was very happy with myself as I'm a ten mph kind of rider.

In November we rode a little tour - Tucson, Amado, Patagonia, Benson, Tombstone, Sierra Vista (via Bisbee), Sonoita, Tucson. That is a nice loop that I would suggest to anyone.

We've tried touring in December - it worked well one year (warm). The next year we had snow!
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