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Southern Arizona: Azure skies, endless vistas hemmed with 10,000-foot peaks. Names out of a medieval fantasy: the Chiricahuas, the Dragoons, Catalinas, Rincons. This is the land of Geronimo, Cochise and 250-year-old saguaro cactus, where the sweet scent of desert creosote flower fills the air. Wildlife is prolific, from coyote to javelina, desert tortoise and rare birds. Bike sun-drenched roads. Hike through heart-stealing landscapes. Visit boutique wineries. Explore the fascinating Arizona-Sonora Desert, Saguaro National Park, the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tombstone, Kartchner Caverns and plenty more.
National Parks on This Tour: Saguaro National Park
Meet in Tucson. Explore the oldest intact European structure in Arizona - Mission San Xavier del Bac, dating from the 1700s. Ride from the past into the future at the Pima Air & Space Museum.
Meet at one of three designated pick-up spots in Tucson. Head out on the town's extensive network of paved bike paths and side roads. Pedal back in time - three centuries back - to visit the 'White Dove of the Desert.' The Mission San Xavier del Bac dates from the 1700s, when this chunk of Southern Arizona (which is now part of the Tohono O'Odham Nation) was part of New Spain. Ride forward into the near past and the future to enjoy lunch and a tour at the Pima Air and Space Museum. It's not only one of the largest aerospace museums, it's also one of top-ranked museums in the world! Afterward, ride the bike paths or hop in the van to shuttle back to enjoy more of Tucson.
Bicycle into unforgettable West Saguaro National Park, where colossal cacti soar nearly fifty feet in height.
Minutes from downtown Tucson, Starr Pass is flanked by giant saguaro cacti framing impressive views of Cat Mountain and Golden Gate Peak. Saguaro - the classic 'cactus' shaped plant one sees in cartoons - are a universal symbol of the American West. Surprisingly, they are rare as cacti go, found only in a small portion of the Sonoran Desert. Bicycle the quiet roads in Tucson Mountain Park and West Saguaro National Park, which protect some of the most impressive 'forests' of these mystical sub-tropical giants. Spend some time exploring the marvelous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Ride (or shuttle) back to the hotel for a second night.
Surprises, surprises - today is full of 'em, from the Elgin-Sonoita wine region to an inn known for its hundreds of butterflies.
Today holds plenty of surprises - the first being Elgin, Arizona, whose rich soils are almost a mirror image of those in Burgundy, France. Elgin was the first local region to engage in commercial wine-making. The wide-open spaces and sparkling skies of the upscale Sonoita area provide rich terroir for saucy Sauvignons, perky Pinots and tasty Tempranillos. Sample a few, then ride on to the beautiful, secluded Casa de San Pedro, where over 355 species of birds and hundreds of butterflies reside. Enjoy a family-style Mexican dinner.
Bicycle side roads to Kartchner Caverns, a stunning limestone cavern system.
Discovered in 1974 by two amateur cavers from Tucson, Kartchner Caverns boasts world-class cave formations considered to be the best of their kind in the entire world. This cave was kept a secret for 14 years to protect it. In 1985, Governor Bruce Babbitt secretly left the state capitol with two bodyguards and spent three hours crawling through the cave's tight passages to reach the cave's showcase chambers, including the Big Room, Echo Passage and Cul-de-sac Passage. Open only since 1988, it is now a fascinating state park. Explore the caves, then stay tonight and tomorrow night at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.
Saguaro-spiked hillsides + a perfect spa = magical day.
Ventana Canyon's accessible-but-untouched state is something of a rarity. For years it had few visitors because one had to get permission from private landowners to reach it; only recently has an easement for the general public been acquired. So, today, hike into the Catalina Mountains - through hillsides forested with saguaro, ocotillo, prickly pear and fragrant mesquite trees, high into this gorgeous canyon with its magnificent views. Watch for hummingbirds and bighorn sheep! Or if you prefer, ride from our lodging at Loews Ventana canyon. Either way, save time for a visit to the marvelous Tucson Day Spa, located onsite.
Challenge yourself with a ride up fabled Mt. Lemmon. Celebrate with a final feast in Saguaro National Park.
Start the day right - cruise to Le Buzz, the local cycling crowd's favorite espresso shop, featuring the best coffee and cinnamon pecan rolls in the entire state of Arizona (possibly the country.) Continue, if you dare, as far as you like up legendary Mt. Lemmon, most renowned of Tucson biking routes. First used as a professional training camp for Team Radioshack in 2009, the beautiful, curving road is a favorite for local cyclists. It was recently designated as the Sky Island Parkway, part of the US National Scenic Byway system. If 6,907 feet of climbing is a bit more than you're after, opt instead for a ride to Agua Caliente. A 101-acre park featuring a natural spring and pond that is home to an exceptionally rich mix of plants, wildlife, and historic features, Agua Caliente is set against the backdrop of the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains. Following a gloriously gourmet picnic lunch, we'll take you back to the airport inns for your return to the outside world.
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As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.