This gravel biking route, in Buenos Aires National Refuge, (which is about an hour South of Tucson, Arizona) is compliments of Linda English, aka “Gravel Girl”. She is the co-founder of Dirty Freehub– an online guide to five star gravel bike routes. She lives in Bend, Oregon and has done loads of riding across Oregon, Washington and Arizona as well as Australia! In addition, she also writes a lot about gravel cycling! Read more here.
(Photo credit: Linda English. Pictured, Kevin English)
The National Refuge has 200+ miles of dirt roads, which just screams, “come bike these awesome gravel routes.”
The area is remote, has a rugged natural beauty and has BIG views.
You will meander across the grasslands of the refuge, roll through washes and past old sycamore trees, pass within a klick of the Mexican border, grunt up one steep hill that provides just enough elevation for a grand view of the whole area and swing back to the start with Baboquivari Peak off in the distance.
The route is about 1 hour and 15 minute drive south of Tucson by car.
On paper this ride should be speedy, but it wasn’t. There are several short, rocky sections and several short, steep grades in excess of 10%. (You’ll find wider tires are the best for this terrain.)
Do this ride if you find yourself in the Tucson area and you have to pick just one great gravel ride. (Dirty Free Hub says they had long debates on their favorite routes in the area, but ultimately decided that this route won!)
You’ll ONLY find toilets and be able to get water at the ride start and finish so make sure you bring adequate supplies for yourself .
The route is ridable Fall to Spring when the skies are clear and the temps are moderate. Avoid this route in summer as it is very exposed to the sun and can be quite sandy!
Wind could also make this route brutal.
If it has recently rained, give it several days to let the washes run shallower or dry.
(Original route post-date: December 2019.)
Want more info? Check out Dirty Freehub’s original post.
This route starts from the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center where there are bathrooms and water is available. (The folks at the Visitor’s Center are wonderfully nice and helpful for any questions you might have.)
Linda English is also known as the “Gravel Girl”. She is the co-founder of Dirty Freehub– an online guide to five star gravel bike routes. She lives in Bend, Oregon and has done loads of riding across Oregon, Washington and Arizona as well as Australia! She is often riding with Captain “O” (Kevin English) on one of their crazy adventures. She just loves all the logging roads in Central Oregon, spinning along while rarely running into a single car and yet getting to gab with her pals while riding. Gravel Girl loves testing out routes, organizing rides through the BACE (Bend Area Cycling Enthusiasts) MeetUp group and snapping pictures. In addition, she also writes a lot about gravel cycling!
Read more here.