Gila Bike Tour New Mexico, Lizard Head Cycling Guides
   
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891 info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com

Tour of the Gila

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

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 offers climbing that jumps back and forth across the continental divide.

The Gila Bike Tour’s quiet roads are the real draw to this area, they climb, dive, twist and turn from start to finish. This tour rides through cool Ponderosa Pine forests, climbs between wilderness areas,  and passes through the White Mountains, home of the La Lobo, the Mexican Grey Wolf.  The quiet roads generally allow cyclists to ride two abreast so they can talk-away the miles.

Highlights of the Gila Bike Tour include Emory Pass’s 150-mile views, the twists & turns of the Gila Monster to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, climbing 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.

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.

How Hard is this Tour? 
Although the Gila is certainly a tour that climbs, it is not too hard.  The description on this webpage has for years scared cyclists from enjoying this area. You can do it!

Lizard Head Cycling owner, John Humphries, lived in Nuevo Mexico for a decade and this is one of his top three trips. Come experience it for yourself.

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.

Gila Bike Tour

Curvaceous Curves of the Gila

Gila Bike Tour, New Mexico

The rugged & beautiful topography of Southwest New Mexico

Gila River near the Gila Cliff Dwellings

Silver City Mural

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.

Gila Bike Tour, Mountain Spirits

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.

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: Testimonials

Read what previous guests on our Tour of the Gila Bike tour have been saying…

Deane and Dave were fantastic guides on our Gila ride and we had a wonderful time. I was glad I took my “climbing bike” – your advice was spot on. This Gila trip was our third Lizard Head trip and assuming you are willing to have us on future trips we are looking to sign up for at least one more trip in the fall. – Mark

I really enjoyed every aspect of our Gila trip. Great routes, guides, lodging, food, scenery, etc. The guides were all especially good. Funny how good guides can make a good trip even better. I look forward to doing a few more trips with you down the road. Thanks! – Jim

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

Your Redrock Canyons and Tour of the Gila, I would rate both tours 11 out of 10 and would say there are more similarities than differences. The similarities are that you have a winning formula in terms of tour length, ride length, amount of climbing, food, accommodation, and slickness of organisation such that it runs smoothly all the time. Having said that, variety is built in and is what makes it so enjoyable. Your “model” is very adept at catering to big groups, small groups, different hopes and expectations, and flexibility in response to client requests. The guides (whether you and Dan or Deanne and Dave) operate exactly the same in reflecting your company values (a high level of internal consistency). The differences were that (Redrock Canyons) was high on “wow factor” scenery and that (Tour of the Gila) was good for long, arduous but non-punishing climbs. I very much enjoyed the layover in Silver City (NM) and the fact 5/5 clients didn’t ride (when one was an EFI type) showed that it was well appreciated. I think the same type of rider could enjoy both tours based on the timing of their holiday/tour and could be steered to either. Perhaps (Redrock Canyons) is more of a long-term hook for attracting new riders: it’s status as the “iconic (Lizard Head) tour” courtesy of the newspaper article gives it a certain prestige. – Craig B.

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

Dave and Mike were fantastic you don’t pay them enough! They went above and beyond and were very helpful. – Wes

Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: 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.

2022 Tour Dates

  • October 23 to 29, 2022 Fall Foliage Tour! (Book Now!)
    A new moon on October 25, 2022 means dark stargazing skies at night!

2023 Tour Dates

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.

Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 7-Days Cycling/6-Nights Lodging

Meeting & Ending Town: El Paso, TX (guests fly into El Paso International Airport – ELP).

Total Miles: From 325 up to 475-miles over 7-days of riding. (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Mileage Range: 25-80 (An optional century ride options exist on days 5)

Ability Levels: Upper Intermediate to Advanced (3/4) , Expert (4)

Tour Cost: $2,945 per person with shared accommodations. Add $495 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (6-Nights). Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

Tour Includes: 7-Days guide service, 6-Nights lodging, all meals (except for 1 dinner and 1 breakfast), shuttle to and from the Gila Mountains, 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. Non-Riding spouses and partners can join a tour's meal plan of three meals a day for $85 per day.

Lodging Includes 6-Nights: (subject to change)

Meeting Hotel and Ending Hotel reservations and costs are NOT included unless specified otherwise. Guests are on-their-own to make reservations at the Meeting Hotel or Ending Hotel, or other nearby hotels.

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: Click Here to learn more about our Road Bike Rentals including pricing.

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.

Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free Road Bike Rental per couple for a one week tour. ($250 value. Pedal bikes only. E-Bikes and east coast based tours excluded.)

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 info@lizardheadcyclingguides.com or call us at 970.728.5891

Also read Things To Do In El Paso either before or after your tour.

Meals On Tour

Lizard Head Cycling Guides provides all 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.

NICE Blog: Here is an inspiring story about Wes Young who has ridden our hardest tours including the Tour of the Gila

Overall Route Map

Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Itinerary*

*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.

Day 1: Nutt, New Mexico to Kingston, New Mexico
38-miles with up to 2,410 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.

Elevation Profile: +2710 ft / -1170 ft

Elevation Profile: +2410 ft / -1170 ft

Day 2: Kingston to The Wilderness Lodge/Gila National Forest
68 miles with up to 5,155 feet of climbing
Lower Mileage Option: 40-miles

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.

On Night 2, we lodge surrounded by the Gila Wilderness at the most remote location of any of our road tours. Our location alongside the Gila River with natural hot springs was home to the Mogollon People and is the sacred birthplace of the Chiricahua Apache, Geronimo. The Gila Wilderness itself was the first designated wilderness in the world in 1924. The Gila’s Designation was inspired by Aldo Leopold, the author of the Wilderness Doctrine, written while he was a ranger in the Gila in the 1910’s. Later, Leopold’s Doctrine became the inspiration behind the 1964 Wilderness Act with the United States government, in Leoplold’s honor, designating the Gila as the first wilderness area under the 1964 Wilderness Act. Lizard Head Cycling feels fortunate to be able to lead our clients to this truly wild and remote location.

NOTE: Although night 2’s lodging at the Gila Wilderness Lodge and Gila Hot Springs Motel offers private rooms with mostly shared bathrooms, there is no need to worry. The location and energy of this location are worth the journey.

Elevation Profile: +5885 ft / -6595 ft

Elevation Profile: +5155 ft / -6595 ft

Day 3: Wilderness Lodge/Gila Hot Springs to Silver City
41-miles with up to 4,420 feet of climbing

The route today serves up the Gila mountains at its best with a 41-mile ride through the Sierra Pinos Altos  Range to Silver City. The grades are steepest in the first 6-miles (6% to 10%) 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 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!

Elevation Profile: +4920 ft / -4580 ft

Elevation Profile: +4420 ft / -4580 ft

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. NOTE: There are riding options on this day. Ask us for details.

Day 5: Glenwood to Mogollon to Alpine, Arizona
80-miles with up to 7,230 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 also 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.

Elevation Profile: +8930 ft / -5275 ft

Elevation Profile: +7230 ft / -5275 ft

Day 6: The Coronado Trail
77-miles with approximately 9,000 feet of descending – “It’s all down except for the up.”

We consider this ride one the best in the American West! The Coronado Trail delivers cyclists from the Mountains to the Desert. It is the route the Coronado expedition from Spain followed in the early 1500’s as they attempted to find the elusive Cities of Gold. This is a wild and lonely landscape that offers incredible cycling.

We have found no other road in North America that offers the twists, turns, scenery and car-free experience of the Coronado Trail.

Although cyclists descend a mind boggling 9,100 feet while following the historic Coronado Trail, they also climb a series of 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 that surround the Coronado Trail 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 Trail, we spend one additional night in Safford, Arizona and climb the lofty heights of Mt. Graham the following day!

Elevation Profile: +8300 ft / -13100 ft

Elevation Profile: +4300 ft / -9100 ft

Day 7: Mt. Graham Climb
25-miles (1-way) with 5,950-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.

Elevation Gain: +5950 ft / -5950 ft

Tour of the Gila Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

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: Upper Intermediate to Advanced. 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.

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: http://www.generalitravelinsurance.com/get-a-quote.html?partner=LIZA0855

  • The Platinum Plan is the only plan which offers Pre-Existing coverage so long as the plan is purchased prior to Final Payment.
  • The Platinum 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: https://tripmate.catravelins.ca/?utm_source=lizardhead

 
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