Tour of the Gila
The Gila Bike Tour pedals through the Gila Mountains of southwest New Mexico on quiet roads that climb, dive, twist and turn from start to finish. This tour that delivers car-free roads and plenty-of-climbing through cool Ponderosa Pine forests. The quiet roads allow cyclists to ride two abreast so they can talk-away the vertical miles.
HIGHLIGHTS: The Gila Bike Tour climbs Emory Pass for 150-mile views, rides the twists & turns of the Gila Monster to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, climbs the continental divide (repeatedly) and experiences the one of a kind town of Silver City. Read a New York Times story about the Gila’s exceptional food.
The Gila Mountains was America’s first designated wilderness area. While working as a Forest Service ranger in these mountains, Aldo Leopold, wrote the Wilderness Doctrine that later became Wilderness Act of 1964.
You guys have set the benchmark for other tour companies, what you have found out here is gold. That was the craziest road I have ever ridden. (Day 6’s Coronado Trail) – B. Steinberg
Read an account of Lizard Head’s Tour of the Gila in the Winter 2014-2015 edition of Women’s Adventure Magazine.
Read why you should discover Silver City, New Mexico.
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Highlights
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: “The Stomping Grounds of the Self-Reliant”
Lizard Head Cycling believes it has found Gold in the Gila (pronounced Hee-lah) with empty roads, big climbs, delicious New Mexican meals and a sense of adventure in The Land Of Enchantment.
The Gila are enchanting & remote mountains in southwest New Mexico that each May host the annual Tour of the Gila Road Race. It is apparent why this area is becoming a draw to both road and mountain cyclists. The area’s roads afford smooth pavement, minimal traffic and offer climbing that jumps back and forth across the continental divide.
Historically the Gila region of Southwest New Mexico has been a home to individuals outside the law making their own way, a no man’s land. The Apache Indian Geronimo was born at the headwaters of the Gila river near Day 3’s Gila Cliff Dwelling ride.
The Food is Great! Read a New York Times story about the food available in Silver City, NM on the Tour of Gila Bike Tour.
Hot Springs – The region abounds in geothermal activity with multiple hot springs along the Gila River. Lizard Head’s bike tour visits the Wildwood Hot Springs on Day 3.
What pure delight to not have to do anything but ride bikes and get the necessary fuel and rest to just wake up and do it all again! The roads were beautiful, company great, lodging perfect, scenery spectacular, and weather pretty glorious all-in-all. [The] Gilas are not something to be missed! – DeAnne Gabriel
The Town of Silver City – The town of Silver City, NM anchors the Tour of the Gila and if one can initially judge a town by the quality of its coffee shops, Silver City has four, yes four, independent coffee shops on its main street alone! Silver City is a small college town with over 30 art galleries that has attracted a cadre of talented individuals.
The riding in this region offers roads that climb, dive, twist and turn to the finish. Much of the riding is through cool Ponderosa Pines that offer shade to the cyclist. The climbs can be steep in areas with European type grades of 6% to 12%. So although the climbing can be challenging, there is little traffic on these quiet roads and as such the riding has proven entertaining. In many areas cyclists are able to ride two abreast and can talk and/or moan away the climbs.
The Gila is an enchanting and remote region that forever impresses itself upon the traveler.
As John A. Murray writes in his book, The Gila Wilderness: A Hiking Guide:
“Perhaps no other wilderness area in the Southwest or elsewhere so much embodies and reflects this national history and natural philosophy as does the Gila. Many of the important events in the development of the region, from the first expedition of Coronado in 1541 to the more recent raids of Geronimo, occurred either directly in the Gila Wilderness Area or in the immediate vicinity. The cliff dwellings of the ancient Mogollon civilization are present here, as are the campsites and battlegrounds of the Apache and the U.S. Cavalry, the abandoned cabins of pioneers, the secret retreats of outlaws, and the remnants of once active mines. A peculiar human richness abounds throughout the Gila country, and the hills and valleys resonate with a multitude of historical associations while at the same time offering the spectacular beauty of the desert uplands (1988).”
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour Video
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Dates
Potential tour dates are listed below. Please see the Spring/Fall Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891.
2017 Spring Tour Dates:
2017 Autumn Tour Dates (7-Day Tour):
- October 1 to 7, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED
- October 8 to 14, 2017 (Book Now!)
- October 15 to 21, 2017 Fall Foliage Tour (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!
- October 22 to 28, 2017 Fall Foliage Tour (Book Now!)
- October 29 to November 4, 2017 Fall Foliage Tour (Book Now!)
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Overview
Tour Length: 7-Days/6-Nights
Meeting Town: El Paso, TX
Ending Town: El Paso, TX
Total Miles: From 350 up to 475-miles over 7-days of riding. (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Mileage Range: 25-105 (Century ride options exist on days 5 & 6)
Ability Level: 3 (Advanced)
Tour Cost: $2,800 per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
Single Room Supplement: $550 for a private room each of the 6-nights of the Gila tour. If cyclist is willing to share a room with a same sex cyclist and there are none available, add $250.
Road Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.
Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.
Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.
Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free bike high performance rental per couple ($250 value).
Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.
Tour Includes just about everything: 6-nights of lodging, all meals, guide service, shuttle to and from the Gila Mountains, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage & bike rental are additional.
Lodging Includes: 6-Nights: (subject to change)
- Night 1: The Black Range Lodge, Kingston, New Mexico
- Night 2: Little Toad Creek Inn or Gila Wilderness Lodge & Hot Springs, Gila, New Mexico
- Nights 3 & 4: The Murray Hotel, Silver City, New Mexico
- Night 5: Tal-Wi-Wi Lodge or Charley’s Mountain Retreat, Alpine, Arizona
- Night 6: Quality Inn, Safford, Arizona
☛ Also read Things To Do In El Paso either before or after your tour.
Meals On Tour
Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.
Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!
Overall Route Map
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Itinerary*
*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.
Day 1: Nutt Post Office to Kingston, New Mexico
39 miles with up to 2,710 feet of climbing
After shuttling to the ride start, today is an easy pedaling day to loosen the legs for the days ahead. We ride north from the tiny Nutt Post Office into the flat and barren high desert landscape and then turn west from Hillsboro gently climbing into the low brush forest of the Black Range to end the ride at the Black Range Lodge.
Day 2: Kingston to The Wilderness Lodge/Gila National Forest
68 miles with up to 5,855 feet of climbing
The first part of today is a climb up and over Emory Pass which then descends 17 miles to the town of San Lorenzo where riders then head northwest through the Mimbres Valley along rambling, quiet roads. After crossing the Continental Divide, we then reach ‘The Gila Monster’ which is the steepest climb on the Tour de Gila. The climb from the Little Toad Creek is the “easy” side presenting a 1,600-feet ascent in 7.2 miles. From the top cyclists enjoy a corkscrewing descent to the Gila River Valley and to The Wilderness Lodge.
Day 3: The Wilderness Lodge to Silver City
41 miles with up to 4,920 feet of climbing
The route today serves up the Gila mountains at its best with a 41-mile ride through the Pinos Altos Mountain Range to Silver City. The grades are steepest in the first 6-miles of the ride, so take the time to warm up before pedaling (ride 1-mile towards Gila Cliff Dwellings and turn around). This is a quiet and unpainted road the climbs steeply then descends and climbs again over the Continental Divide. Large Ponderosa forests line the road and the views are lovely. Cyclists pass through the historic town of Pinos Altos before the descent to “Silver”. Upon arrival in Silver City, lunch is served in the Art Deco lobby of the Murray Hotel.
Afterward cyclists have the afternoon to visit Silver’s funky art shops, the university and the town’s “well-organized” museum. Live music can be found in local bars. If you like good espresso, choose from four cafés on Main Street alone!
Day 4: Layover Day in Silver City
With a layover day in Silver City, guests have the opportunity to go shopping, peruse the town’s many funky art galleries or even enjoy a quiet coffee (coffee shops abound in Silver with 4 shops on main street alone!). A trip to Silver City would also not be complete without a visit to Gila Hike & Bike.
Day 5: Glenwood to Mogollon to Alpine, Arizona
80-miles with up to 8,930 feet of climbing!
Day 5 Options:
* Riders can make the day longer with a start in Silver City for a 125-mile day!
* A shorter & lovely 50-mile option is available 🙂
Today’s ride starts from Glenwood, NM and climbs the iconic ascent of the Tour De Gila bike race to Mogollon, NM, this is a steep climb on a narrow road with no traffic. The 100-mile views across New Mexico and into Arizona are remarkable. This is another highlight of the tour. After the descent from Mogollon, we ride north through high desert country alongside the Gila Mountains Wilderness to the east. On this section cyclists slowly climb 2,000-feet to 6,000-foot Saliz Pass before lunch. If a headwind is in the offering, Saliz Pass can be a “slow-go”. Lunch will be enjoyed 9.5 miles later at the Little Adobe Café: an oasis of homemade food and pastries in the middle of nowhere. After lunch the business end of today’s ride is served up with a pair of daunting climbs totaling over 2,600-feet in the final 31-miles to Alpine, AZ. This is a true mountaintop finish.
Day 6: The Coronado Trail
97-miles with approximately 10,000 feet of descending – “It’s all down except for the up.”
70-mile option available
Big mileage, big climbing and even bigger descending! Day 6’s ride delivers cyclists from the Mountains to the Desert. The Coronado Trail is the route the Coronado expedition followed in the early 1500’s as they attempted to find the elusive Cities of Gold. This is a wild and lonely landscape with incredible cycling. We have found no other rod in North America that offers the twists, turns, scenery and car-free experience of the Coronado Trail.
Although cyclists descend a mind boggling 10,000-feet while following the historic Coronado Trail, they also climb a series of tough climbs equaling over 4,000 feet. The finale day begins with a steady and peaceful 2,000-foot climb through the White Mountains of Arizona to 9,000-foot high Hannagan Meadow (the high point of the tour). At this point the Coronado Trail begins a descent that eventually drops cyclists below the 4,000-foot elevation mark.
The White Mountains of Day 6 were home to Geronimo, an Apache Indian of the Chiricahua band. The U.S. Army spent 10-years trying to locate and contain his band. Geronimo and other Apache chiefs would evade the their pursuers and make their way south to Old Mexico through this rugged country.
The Coronado Trail is a lonely mountainous road with twists, turns and climbing/descending from start to finish. It is rarely flat. The road engineers of the Coronado Trail did not spend much effort grading this road. The road follows the natural features of the land. As a result it is well suited for road bike riding. Towards the end cyclists are able to negotiate this road at a faster speed then the Lizard Head Cycling van and trailer.
After the Coronado we spend one additional night in Safford, Arizona and climb the lofty heights of Mt. Graham the following day!
Day 7: Mt. Graham Climb
35-miles with 8,950-feet of climbing!
The final day of the 7-Day tour offers one of the more unique climbs in the American West to the “Sky-Island” of Mt. Graham. The 29-mile Swift Trail up Pinaleno Mountains to the Mt. Graham observatory is a journey to remember. The 10,717-foot Mt. Graham soars almost a mile and a half above the town Safford and the desert below – the single greatest vertical rise of any Arizona mountain. Because of the dramatic elevation gain, temperatures drop about 30 degrees from mountain base to mountaintop, so bring warm clothing.
Ladybug Saddle, at 8,508 feet, is reached after seventeen miles of steady climbing. Southern Arizona unfolds below this lofty viewpoint. The Pinaleno Mountains are home to a variety of wildlife. Javelinas, black-tailed jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, and rattlesnakes are found in the dry lower elevations. Both mule and whitetail deer are often seen browsing in roadside meadows. Coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, turkey, and four species of skunk roam the area’s wilderness.
After descending Mt. Graham cyclists end the tour with a refreshing soak at the Kachina Mineral Springs before the return shuttle to El Paso.
Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs
Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.
Meals: Any dietary preferences or allergies should be noted on the registration form. Each of Lizard Head Cycling’s lunches contains gluten free options.
Ride Difficulty: This custom tour is designed for cyclists with various levels of fitness. Each day there are additional mileage options for advanced riders.
Tour Support: A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment will support this tour.
General Tour & Cancellation Policies
Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides teams up with Seven Corners for travel insurance. Seven Corners offers:
- Travel Medical
- Medical Evacuation
- 24/7 Assistance
- Trip Cancellation
Be sure to go to our custom Seven Corners portal by clicking this link or by clicking the the banner on the right after confirming your tour with us to get a quote on travel insurance.