A fantastic riding, highly scenic route looping through Harshaw creek canyon, the Canelo Hills, the San Rafael valley and the Patagonia mountains. This route is an extension of the Patagonia 50 route with a swing further north and east. As mapped, this route is in the direction counter to that of Patagonia 50, giving it a different and unique riding experience.
For a great overview of the riding in the Patagonia area, give a read to the writeup done by Caffeine and Watts: Patagonia, A Gravel Utopia.
This is a 5 Star Route all the way, but we have not had the time to ride it, document it, and photograph it in this direction. Thus, the Development Route designation for the moment. (If you would like to help us out with pictures and a detailed route description, send as an email. Email address is at the bottom of the page.)
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 82 miles / 5900 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 80% gravel, 20% paved
– eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 1 hour, 5 min south of Tucson, Arizona
– Published: January 2020 (updated Jan 20210
Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]
- Technical Riding Difficulty: Easier+
Most of the gravel roads in the San Rafael Valley are hard-packed and fast.
- Navigation Challenge & Risk: Moderate
There are a number of turns along the route, if you miss a turn you may end up going a long way before finding pavement.
- Remote Risk: Moderate-
On a weekend, you will most likely see several vehicles and Border Patrol. There is intermittent cell phone coverage the route.
For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.
Food / Water
At ~ mile 35.5 water and food can be found at the Parker Canyon Lake and Marina general store (easonal). At the intersection of Highway 83 (paved) and Montezuma Canyon road (gravel) continue straight towards the lake instead of going left. This will add ~ 1 mile.
40 mm tires are more than adequate for this ride. The route is exposed – be wary of sun and wind. We also do not recommend riding when it is wet – it can be muddy and sticky!
The route goes very near the Hermosa Project mine (~ mile 72). Yes, the project is controversial, but we encourage you as riders to be courteous and give way to mining trucks (i.e. stop and put a foot down). There are other and better forums for debating the merits of mining than on a gravel road.
The area is actively patrolled by Border Patrol. As a general rule, when we come across Border Patrol for the first time in the day, we stop and ask if “there’s anything we should be aware of” and we also give them our route.
And … a big shout out to Sabino Cycles in Tucson for turning us onto the idea of an 80 mile loop, in the opposite direction of almost every other ride in the area.