Arizona Bike Tour, Trail of the Apaches, Lizard Head
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891

Trail of the Apaches

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Trail of the Apaches: Arizona’s Sky Islands

Moving Like the Wind Across the Desert Southwest

Trace a route across the remote southern borderlands of Arizona. The Apache Indians, whose physical & mental endurance where legendary, once “moved like the wind across this landscape”. You’ll do the same on to wheels to discover a remote, wild and beautiful landscape of this sacred land.

Giant saguaros are a universal symbol of the American West, yet these majestic plants are only found in a relatively small portion of Arizona. Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants, on the edge of the Tucson city limits.

The Trail of the Apaches Bike Tour explores Arizona’s empty roads rising to the impenetrable mountain strongholds of the Apache. It offers various challenging levels for differing abilities. In addition to the incredible cycling, you’ll also experience Arizona’s Sky Islands: which are mountainous biologic refuges surrounding by desert that rise thousands of feet above the surrounding desert.

Join us to experience southern Arizona’s finest and most remote biking, stay at unique desert lodges, and gain a first hand understanding of the land the Apaches called home and refuge.

Arizona Bike Tour, The road up Mt. Graham

Desert Roads

Arizona Bike Tour, Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus

Arizona Bike Tour

Miles of empty roads…

Arizona Bike Tour, saguaro national park

Saguaro National Park

Trail of the Apaches: Testimonials

Read what previous guests on our Trail of the Apaches bike tour have been saying…

First off, a big thank you to Roy and Leslie for all the hard work they put into giving us a great tour. There wasn’t a moment when one or both of them were not breaking their backs for us – cooking, driving, loading bikes or hammering it out on the road. They made the tour a great success.

Even though I signed up on my own, I quickly made connections with the four guys who have been cycling together for years. Their friendship was a big part of the experience. It says a lot about the type of people who are attracted to Lizard Head Tours that they were so welcoming to a new guy.

Last, thanks for the challenging routes (and the great weather!) that allowed me to really push myself on everyday of the tour. I won’t forget the feeling of exhilaration on the top of Mt. Lemmon or the conversations had with new friends over a couple of well deserved beers. I’ll be back. – Christopher

The Trail of the Apaches was a joy to ride. The routes were challenging, but able to be conquered. The deserts of Arizona really have their own natural beauty, and this tour took us right through it. If I was to rate the riding and lodging alone I would give it an A, but add in the support, the lunches and the personality that both John and Steve brought and this trip was off the charts. – Dustin W.

Trail of the Apaches: Dates

Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn 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

Autumn 2020 Tour Dates


Spring 2021 Tour Dates

Trail of the Apaches: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 6-Days Cycling/5-Nights Lodging

Meeting & Ending Location: Tucson, Arizona at our meeting hotel, The Hyatt Airport Place.

Total Miles: 150 up to 380 mileage options. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Group Size: 6 to 15 riders

Daily Mileage Range: 15-96

Ability Levels: Intermediate (2/3) , Upper Intermediate (3) , Advanced (3/4)
(Accommodates Intermediate to Advanced levels)

Tour Cost: $2,790 per person.
Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more. Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

Non-Riding Spouses & Partners on Tour: If a non-riding spouse or partner would like to join you on tour and they have their own transportation, they can stay in your room for the cost of the tour's single room supplement. Non-Riding spouses and partners can join a tour's meal plan of three meals a day for $85 per day.

Summer 2020 Special: Join a June through August 2020 road bike tour and your bike rental is included.
Autumn 2020 Special: Join a Autumn 2020 road bike tour and your bike rental is only $75
(NOTE: Western US and Natchez Trace tours only.Not stackable with other discounts)

Single Room Supplement: Add $450 to the Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (5 nights).

Bike Rental

In 2020 Lizard Head Cycling is renting a fleet of Scott Addict 10 carbon road bikes for only $250/week. The Scott Addict offer full carbon frames, Shimano Ultegra components, 34x32 low gearing, 32mm tires, and disc brakes. Altogether, the Scott Addict provides a smooth and comfortable ride for our guests. Rental bikes include pump, tools, and spare tubes.

NOTE: Bike rental can be limited so please reserve in advance.

For more information, please email or call 970.728.5891

Take your bike home! Click here for more information.

Read a Review on the SCOTT Addict 10

Electric Bike Rental (E-Bikes): 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. Pedal bikes only, E-Bikes excluded).

Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.

Read more on our Road Bike Rental FAQs page.

Lodging for 5-Nights: (subject to change)

Included: all meals (except for 1 dinner), guide service, taxes, entrance fees, lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support.

Meals On Tour

Lunches: 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!

Dinners: 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.

Riding on the Trail of the Apaches Bike Tour

Ability Level: Intermediate-Advanced

The details: Our Trail of the Apaches Bike Tour traces a route across the remote borderlands of southern Arizona.

AZ Bird

This region features broad outwash valleys flanked by towering mountain ranges, which dominate this basin-and-range topography. The rocky, forested peaks loom like giant monuments above the desert floors.

All in all, this Arizona bike tour makes for an exceptionally remote and wild cycling route, far from our modern, hectic civilization.

Each fall and spring, you’ll enjoy warm temperatures and few cars in this remote region. Lower and higher mileage options are available each day.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “birder,” you’ll appreciate the variety of the bird life on this tour. You’ll notice an abundance of cactus wren, large birds of prey, various species of quail and hummingbird, and course roadrunners (not like the ones Wile E. Coyote chased).

The weather: Southern Arizona offers near-perfect fall and early spring weather for bike touring. In October and early November, the cottonwoods shine yellow along the river corridors, and the days are short and crisp. During spring, while the rest of North America is still cold and wet, the desert blooms and provides ideal cycling temperatures to start the season.

Non-Riding Activities

The Trail of the Apaches is an Arizona bike tour that can accommodate adventurous non-cyclists. Contact us for details. Here are non-riding options for each day:

Arizona Bike Tour, Hiking on Day 2

Hiking on Day 2

Arizona Bike Tour, Day 4: Walk along the San Pedro River

The San Pedro River in Fall

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

Definition of Ability Levels
= Intermediate (2/3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 1 to 3 times a week for a total of 50 or more miles.
= Upper Intermediate (3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 2 to 4 times a week for a total of 75 or more miles.
= Advanced (3/4) Rides and/or takes spin classes 3 to 5 times a week for a total of 100 or more miles. Has ridden multi-day tours and done a century ride.
= Expert (4) Rides 4 or more times per week totaling 150 or more miles. Rides E.F.I. with regularity. Has done numerous multi-day tours, century rides and races.

How Fit do I Have to Be?
If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equalling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. We like to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week long bike tour is to go on a week long tour.

Our average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so we take our time to stop, take pictures and see the sights. We have all day to reach our destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. We offer reduced mileage options for each day. Of course if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), we love to show them all the extra climbs, loops and hidden canyons that can be included!

Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a "bump" via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is "off the front" and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They'll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.

Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we're well known for in our business. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best. :-)

Slow or Fast?
Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they're surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!

Please also see this blog post for more information.

Trail of the Apaches: 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: Saguaro National Park
20 to 30 mile warm up ride with optional 3 to 10 mile hike through Giant Saguaros

We meet and greet at the Hyatt Place Tucson Airport and then  shuttle 15 minutes towards Saguaro National Park and ride 10-miles over Gates Pass for an aid station at the Sonora Desert Museum.  Next cyclists engage a ride through the Saguaro on the 8-mile McCann Loop back to the Desert Museum. Once back at the museum guests take in the museum’s botanical garden and fascinating displays of the Sonora Desert’s flora and fauna. If interested post museum, guests can engage in an energizing 3-mile hike through the picturesque desert jewel of Saguaro National Park. Post hike guests ride or shuttle back to this evening’s lodging.

Arizona Bike Tour, Sonoran Desert Museum

Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum

Arizona Bike Tour, Hiking in Aravaipa Canyon

Saguaro National Park

Day 2: Ascent of Kitt Peak Astronomical Telescope
35 mile round trip or
55 miles E.F.I. = Every Freaking Inch 🙂 

Today we’ll climb a southwestern classic to the summit of Kitt Peak. Kitt Peak offers an almost car-free riding experience to a Sky Island above the Sonoran Desert. The climb itself is 11-miles with nearly 4,000-feet of ascending at a 5 to 7% grade. Cyclists enjoy lunch and a tour of the telescopes at the summit.

After the descending Kitt Peak, we’ll shuttle briefly to the western unit of Saguaro National Park. From here, cyclists have the option of riding or shuttling back over Starr Pass back to tonight’s lodging.

Arizona Bike Tour, Climbing Kitt Peak

Climbing Kitt Peak

Arizona Bike Tour

Relaxing in Arizona

Arizona Bike Tour Sunset

Arizona Sunset

Elevation Gain: 4493 ft Elevation Loss: 3800 ft

Elevation Gain: 4293 ft
Elevation Loss: 4293 ft

Day 3: Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge to Patagonia
1st Segment: 47 miles with up to 1,660-feet of climbing
2nd Segment: 19 miles with up to 1,350 feet of climbing

On this day we make a run for the border heading south through the Altar Valley on a quiet and beautiful desert road alongside the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. This ride is a desert classic offering beautiful views of the Los Guijas Mountains and birds of all types! At the half-way point of the ride there is an espresso aid station at the Gadsden Coffee Co. in Arivaca, Arizona.

The 1st segment of today’s riding ends in Amado, Arizona followed by a short shuttle to the 2nd segment where it’s then just 19 miles along South River Road to end the day in Patagonia, Arizona.

Arizona Bike Tour, Day 3: Patagonia, AZ

Day 3: Patagonia, AZ

Day 3: The San Rafael Valley from Patagonia Mtns

Day 3: The San Rafael Valley from Patagonia Mtns

Segment 1 – Elevation Profile: 47 mi +1660 ft / -1745 ft

Segment 2 – Elevation Profile: 19 mi +1350 ft / -810 ft

Day 4: Patagonia to Patagonia State Park to Sonoita
23 miles with up to 2,000 feet of climbing
E.F.I. option of 35 miles with up to 3,090 feet climbing

Today we ride a route from the town of Patagonia up to the Patagonia Lake State Park.

The park was established in 1975 and is the winter home for birds such as the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, black vulture, and several species of hummingbirds.  We’ll enjoy lunch at the lake and a wild swimming opportunity!

After lunch we’ll descend back to Patagonia and continue to our lodging in Sonoita, Arizona.

Fun Fact: The night sky from southern Arizona is one of the darkest in the lower 48 states.

Elevation Profile: +3090 ft / -2280 f

Day 5: Sonoita to Parker Canyon Lake
4,835-feet of climbing

Today we ride from Sonoita to the sky island of Parker Canyon and Parker Lake.  To start the day cyclists ride a route through the Canelo Hills and upward through Parker Canyon to a lunch stop at the Parker Canyon Lake. After a well deserved break, we reverse course and head downhill towards Elgin traversing Arizona’s wide open wine growing region where we’ll be sure to pick up a couple of bottles. We end the ride at a vineyards followed by a short shuttle to Bisbee, Arizona.

Incorporated in 1902, Bisbee was a booming copper, silver and gold mining town that went completely bust in the 1970s. Today, “Old Bisbee” is a booming artists’ colony and a popular destination for folks looking to literally take a step back in time. Steep staircases to residences line its tight, hilly, European-style streets, including the Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb. Rest up at the historic Copper Queen Hotel which has maintained the ambiance of the Victorian Era Old West, but has been renovated with modern day conveniences to make your stay more comfortable.

Bisbee, Arizona

Bisbee, Arizona

Arizona Bike Tour, Bisbee Artisan shops

Quirky Artisan Shops line main street

Elevation Profile: +4835 ft / -4000 ft

Elevation Profile: +4835 ft / -4000 ft

Day 6: Ascent of Mt. Lemmon 
59 miles with up to 6,920 feet of climbing

From the airy perch of Bisbee, we’ll enjoy breakfast and then shuttle to the base of the mighty Santa Catalina Mountains for an ascent of Mt. Lemmon. The ascent of Mt. Lemmon is bucket list ride for North American cyclists. The ride is the biological equivalent of riding from Mexico to Canada. On this climb cyclists enjoy sag support.

After the descent we’ll return cyclists to the meeting hotel to end our Trail of the Apaches Arizona Bike Tour.

Chiricahua Mountains

Chiricahua Mountains

Arizona Bike Tour, Sky Island Scenic Byway

Mt. Lemmon Ascent

Elevation Profile: 59 mi +6920 ft / -6920 ft

Trail of the Apaches: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with 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.

Tour Support
A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment supports Lizard Head Cycling’s tours. Cyclists keep a day bag that is accessible within the support vehicle.

The vehicle will sag and then pass riders to set up aid stations every 20 to 25 miles. This allows cyclists to linger at the back and then take a ten-mile, fifteen-mile or whatever mile “bump” forward to catch-up or get ahead of the group. Energy food, drink mixes, and fresh fruit are available throughout each stage.

The Daily Schedule
Cyclists ride their own pace. Lizard Head Cycling does its best to support riders in their varying desires and efforts. Cyclists can either use our tours to simply support their tour experience or to engage in a guided experience along the route.

Cue sheets with directions, profiles and locations of aid stations are given out for each stage.

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.

Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through TripAssure. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below or Lizard Head Cycling Guides can also set-up a policy for its clients.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying insurance for a $2,500 tour ranges from $100 (standard plan) to about $200 (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:

  • The best options for our clients are either the Asset or Bridge plans.
  • The Asset-Plus & Complete plans both include a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option.
    • As a result these plans cost more.
    • The Cancel-for-Any-Reason option is only available when insurance is purchased within two weeks of initial deposit.

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