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

Trail of the Apaches

Please click here to jump to the Overview section with all tour details including pricing.

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 were legendary, once “moved like the wind across this landscape”. You’ll do the same on two 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…

The trip was great!! The cycling routes were good – not much traffic and good roads. We reviewed the maps daily. I enjoyed the areas we cycled very much. My rental bike was just like the road bike I ride at home. The accommodation was also very good – I especially liked Patagonia. Such an interesting town! The meals were all good. David and Peter were very helpful and well organized. The group overall was a bunch of nice people!! I had an amazing week. I’m looking forward to more cycling soon, I hope. – Donna

The trip in Tucson was fantastic. Dave and Roy were the best. The food, the route, the camping, scenery, communication, bike rental and even the weather were all perfect. Especially making the trip enjoyable were Dave and Roy, our guides who worked together seamlessly to make it all work, two guys who combine talents as diverse as chefs, guides, storytellers, mechanics, fire makers, van drivers, cyclists, and motivators and did it all while seemingly having a good time themselves. – Alan

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

To easily register for a particular tour, please click the Book Now! link after the tour date listed below. This will select the tour name and the appropriate date on the registration form.

2024 Tour Dates

This tour runs from Monday to Friday unless noted otherwise.

  • October 21 to 26, 2024 (Book Now!)
  • October 28 to November 2, 2024 6-Day Tour (Book Now!) – TOUR OPENED
  • November 10 to 14, 2024 Sunday to Thursday (Book Now!)

2025 Tour Dates

This tour runs from Monday to Friday unless noted otherwise.

Tour Status Notes: NO STATUS = Date Set, no riders have signed up. TOUR OPENED = Tour Opened, rider minimums not met. TOUR A GO! = Tour is Go, rider minimums met. SOLD OUT = Tour Full, rider maximums met.

Why Should you Sign-Up Now and OPEN a Tour Date?
This is the proverbial chicken and the egg conundrum! We need our cyclists to first commit to the date that works for them so that we can commit to that date.

For starters, when you OPEN a date you get to pick your preferred departure date, and there is no penalty if the tour does not run. Once you pick your tour date, Lizard Head closes nearby dates and funnels all additional riders to your chosen date until the tour meets its 6 rider minimum.

BONUS: As an added bonus, we can also hold a spot for you on another tour date of your choosing. There is no fee to switch to another tour date.

In conclusion, if you want a tour to run, we need you to sign up and not wait for others to do the same! Waiting for others may mean that a tour date takes longer or does not confirm. Just Do It! Once a few riders jump into the proverbial waters, others will follow!

Trail of the Apaches: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 5-Days Cycling/4-Nights Lodging (6-Day option available, please inquire)

Meeting & Ending Location: Tucson, Arizona

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)

5-Day Tour Cost: $2,900 per person with shared accommodations. Add $395 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (4-Nights).

6-Day Tour Cost: $3,485 per person with shared accommodations. Add $495 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (5-Nights).

Tour Discounts: Please see our Reptile Rewards & Tour Discounts page to learn more about Reptile Rewards, Tour Discounts, and Group Discounts. Tour discounts are not stackable with any other discounts or promotions – only the highest valued discount is provided. Please note that for discounts to apply the tour minimum must be met.

5-Day Tour Includes: 5-Days guide service, 4-Nights lodging, all meals (except for 1 dinner), entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, in-tour shuttles, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (if available) are additional.

6-Day Tour Includes: 6-Days guide service, 5-Nights lodging, all meals (except for 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner), entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, in-tour shuttles, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (if available) are additional.

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. Please note that non-riders cannot check into hotels prior to guide arrival as the guides need to manage the check-in process. Checking in a large group can be challenging and take longer than normal, so non-riders need to hang back and be patient. Non-riding spouses and partners are welcome to join the Lizard Head meal plan which includes breakfasts and dinners for $75 per day. Note: Lunches are not included for non-riders driving their own vehicles due to the inherent variability of both lunch timing and locations. It is best for non-riders to plan to explore each day.

Lodging for 4-Nights: (subject to change)

  • Nights 1 & 2: Starr Pass Suites Tucson, AZ (2,400′ elevation) – The 6-Day tour stays here Nights 1, 2, & 3.
  • Nights 3 & 4: Stage Stop Inn, Patagonia, AZ (4,100′ elevation)

Road Bike Rentals

NOTE: The make, model, and specifications of rental bikes may differ from what is described below. Please contact us if you have any specific needs for a rental bike or have any questions about rental bikes.

Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott Bikes. The Scott Addict 10 Disc was designed from the ground up with those longer days in mind. With geometry that is less focused on racing and more on enduring, the Addict 10 will be your go to when you’re looking to put the miles in.

The Scott Addict 10 Disc features: Carbon Frame and Fork, Shimano Ultegra 2x11 Drivetrain, 34x32 Compact Gearing, 30mm Tires, and Hydraulic Disc Brakes. Approx. Weight: 16.89 lbs / 7.66 kg (without pedals)

Learn more about our Rental Bikes and Equipment

Road E-Bike Rentals: Click Here for more information on our Road E-Bike Rentals including pricing. Please note that E-Bikes are not available for certain tours including those that involve camping. Please contact us for more information before registering for a tour. NOTE: E-Bikes are great, but our tours are designed to be ridden without motorized assistance. We offer "bumps" along the road so that everyone can stay together.

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

If you have any further questions, please read more on our Rental Bikes FAQ page. You can also email us at or call us at 970.728.5891

Meals On Tour

Lizard Head Cycling Guides provides most meals on all tours (unless otherwise noted) including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guides will prepare a daily lunch en route for nearly every tour, both road and off-road, as well as provide nutritious snacks at periodic aid stations during the day.

Most of our road tours utilize local restaurants for all meals and occasionally guides may prepare a dinner or two during a tour. Due to the nature of being "off the grid", most of our off-road tours feature guide prepared meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. FUN NOTE: When guides prepare a meal in camp and the guests sit around and watch, this is called "Guide TV". :)

We also pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests and needs, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works best for you during your tour. Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the 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.

Dinners: On our road tours, Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients and guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu including: appetizer, salad, entrée, 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 out-wash 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

Hedgehog Cactus Flowers

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 equaling 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.

Overall Route Map

Below is an example of the daily routes for this tour and are subject to change based on season, available accommodations, road closures, and other factors. The actual routes will be made available to registered participants before their tour, so please view these routes as a general outline as to what to expect.

Trail of the Apaches: Itinerary*

*PLEASE NOTE: Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations, road construction, road closures, and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Also, the distances and elevation profiles shown below may not reflect the actual distances and elevations while on tour as these are provided here to give an idea as to the anticipated mileage and terrain. Please view this itinerary, the distances, and elevation profiles as a general outline as to what to expect while on this tour.

NOTE: The 5-Day itinerary eliminates the Day 3 Ascent to Kitt Peak National Observatory.

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 designated meeting hotel in Tucson, 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.

Day 2: Ascent of Mt. Lemmon
59 miles with up to 6,920 feet of climbing

Today we have a short shuttle to the base of the mighty Santa Catalina Mountains for an ascent of Mt. Lemmon. The climb of Mt. Lemmon is a bucket list ride for many North American cyclists as the ride is the biological equivalent of riding from Mexico to Canada. Riders can climb all the way to the summit or climb partway and then head back down the mountain. Have no doubt about it, this will be a challenging climb, but the descending is incredible and the views are amazing!

Ascent of Mt. Lemmon Elevation Profile: 59 miles +6,920 feet / -6,920 feet

Day 3: Ascent to Kitt Peak National Observatory
24 miles with up to 3,580 feet of climbing

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 3,600 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.

Elevation Profile: 24 miles +3,580 feet / -3,580 feet

Day 4: Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge
52 miles with up to 1,850 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 riding ends in Amado, Arizona followed by a shuttle to our lodging at the Stage Stop Inn in Patagonia, Arizona.

Elevation Profile: 52 miles +1,850 feet / -1,770 feet

Day 5: Patagonia Lake State Park Roundtrip
Road Route: 23 miles with up to 2,200 feet of climbing
Mixed Terrain Route: 30 miles with up to 1,850 feet of climbing (50% paved/50% gravel)

Today we will cover a route from our lodging in Patagonia up to 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 will enjoy lunch at the lake and a wild swimming opportunity!

After lunch we will descend back to Patagonia, Arizona and our lodging at the Stage Stop Inn.

Optional Mixed Terrain Ride: From Patagonia, if conditions permit, there is an optional easier 30-mile mixed terrain ride, The Patagonia 30, that our cyclists can engage if they are interested in this less technical gravel ride.

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

Road Route Elevation Profile: 23 miles +2,200 feet / -2,200 feet

Mixed Terrain Elevation Profile: 30 miles +1,850 feet / -1,850 feet

Day 6: Patagonia to Parker Canyon Lake to Sonoita
70 miles with up to 5,210 feet of climbing

On our final day we ride from Patagonia to the sky island of Parker Canyon and Parker Canyon 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 will have to option to end at one of the area’s wineries. We then shuttle back to Tucson to end the tour.

Elevation Profile: 70 miles +5,210 feet / -4,400 feet

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

If you have not already, now would be a great time to consider adding travel insurance to your tour. You are welcome to use any travel insurance company you would like. We recommend Generali/Trip Mate.

Generally, if contracting COVID causes clients to cancel or interrupt their tour, trip insurance companies would treat it as any other illness as long as it is contracted after the insurance was purchased. Please check your individual plan documentation for details. Please note that quarantine is usually only covered if clients are actually sick with COVID. If a state requires quarantine upon arrival because of standardized state law, coverage is generally not covered. Again, check your individual plan documentation for details.

American Guests - use this link:

  • The Premium Plan is the only plan which offers Pre-Existing coverage so long as the plan is purchased prior to Final Payment.
  • The Premium Plan is the only plan that offers an optional Cancel For Any Reason - the policy must be purchased within 24 hours of initial trip deposit, the full trip cost must be insured, and if they cancel for Any Reason, it must be 48 hours prior to departure, and the reimbursement for an Any Reason claim is 60% of pre-paid, insured, non-refundable trip cost.
  • Customer Service can be reached at 1-800-874-2442 for coverage questions and policy modifications or to purchase by phone. Agency Code: LIZA0855

Canadian Guests - use this link:

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