Note: This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.
The Saguaro National Park has two sections: east and west, with Tucson in between them both. The west part of the park has a ten-mile loop that is mainly gravel. And while many of you regular Dirty Freehub fans will be making faces like, REALLY, I am going on a bike ride that is only eleven miles, we say this is the perfect dial down day. Stop and smell the … uh, cactus? Maybe not such a good idea. But we are sure you will enjoy all the saguaros, and this park is just loaded with cool ones, the big old granddaddies that could tell yeah more than a bit of history.
Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation’s largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American West. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west, of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset. [National Park Service]
Adventure / Gravel Route
Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]
Low. The area is at the urban boundary of Tucson and cell phone coverage is good.
When we like to ride this …
Ideally, mid-week when the car traffic is less. Also, this is a great route near dusk. The colors can be amazing!
Red Hills Visitor Center, Saguaro National Park. Flush toilets and water.
Lat / Long: 32.253585, -111.196990
You park at the Red Hill Visitor’s Center. Go inside and get acquainted with the area, and park before you head out on your ride. Lead-out northeast a paved road [Kinney Road](Micro-video) for a short bit with a couple of opportunities to take short hikes. Then you pop on to the gravel loop road. This will climb, and climb some more …. With a variety of offshoots that we recommend you explore. Don’t be in a hurry; just enjoy all the cactus.
Just after mile 5 the climbing is done. It is downhill on gravel(Micro-video) and then a left turn onto paved with a slight rising incline to the finish.
For more information on the park, go to their website. We really recommend visiting when wildflowers are blooming in late February and March, with the saguaros blooming from late April through June. Oh heck, we recommend you go anytime that the temps are cool enough to hop on a bike.
40 mm tires are more than adequate for this ride.
Food / Water