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Routes / Sierra Vista, Arizona Bike Camp
« on: February 28, 2017, 03:51:37 pm »
Touring cyclists riding USBRS Route 90 or other routes in southeast Arizona receive a warm welcome at Sierra Vista’s newly-opened indoor bike camp.  The camp provides space for sleeping and securing bikes and gear, 2 bathrooms with showers, a kitchen stocked with coffee and other essentials, and a clothes washer and dryer.  There is no charge for the camp; donations are accepted.  The bike camp is a 2-minute ride from USBRS Route 90.  More information about the bike camp and how to access it is in a an entry titled “Description of USBRS Route 90, Tucson, AZ to Rodeo, NM” in the Corridor 90 Implementation forum of the U.S. Bicycle Route System portion of the forums.

Routes / USBRS Route 90 Description Expanded
« on: February 28, 2017, 03:00:32 pm »
The original USBRS Route 90 description posted in the Corridor 90 Implementation forum showed only the introduction of the description.  Adventure Cycling's John Sieber corrected the posting so the entire description of the route is shown.  Thanks, John.

Routes / USBRS Route 90 in SE Arizona
« on: February 24, 2017, 11:52:35 pm »
A description of USBRS Route 90 in SE Arizona between Tucson and Rodeo, NM, is posted in the “Corridor 90 Implementation” forum in the U.S. Bicycle Route System category.  The scenic route offers favorable year-round riding conditions through an area rich in history.  The description provides information on the route, road conditions, and services available in communities along the route.

US Bicycle Route System’s Route 90 through southeastern Arizona showcases the area’s long and varied history and the cultures that formed it.  Native Americans inhabited the region for thousands of years before Spanish explorers, beginning with Coronado’s expedition in 1540, entered the area.  Cattle introduced by Spanish friars expanded into vast Mexican, then American, ranches, introducing the cowboy culture still evident in ranches in expansive grasslands in the Sonoita area and San Simone Valley.

After the U.S. acquired the area from Mexico through the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, incursions by miners and cattlemen into the territory of the native Chiricahua Apaches resulted in years of bloody conflicts with settlers and Army forces in present Cochise County.  Fort Huachuca, in Sierra Vista, is the only remaining Army fort in Arizona dating from the Indian Wars period. 

The silver-mining boomtown of Tombstone attracted notorious outlaws and lawmen and has been memorialized in many movies.  When the mines played out, the town settled into a time warp, retaining many of its original buildings and character.  Copper was the basis of the city of Bisbee, a former mining city whose free spirits and artists now exemplify the picturesque town.

Area Overview:
The 180 miles of USBRS Route 90 between Tucson and New Mexico traverses “range and basin” topography, characterized by numerous isolated mountain ranges separated by broad high desert valleys.  Fortunately for bike riders, the highways usually wind between mountain ranges.  Grades are generally quite mild, with only two significant climbs – between Tucson and Sonoita and over Mule Pass just north of Bisbee.  Several of the roads have little to no shoulders, but traffic is generally light.

Weather conditions offer favorable year-round riding conditions.  With elevations between 4,000 and 5,000 feet, summer temperatures are 10° to 15° cooler than the lower portions of Route 90 to the west.  Summer temperatures often reach into the 90s, but seldom reach 100°.  The daytime heat is tempered by cool nights.  The July through mid-September monsoon brings scattered thunderstorms, usually of short duration, and cooler temperatures.  Winter nighttime temperatures may fall below freezing, but daytime temperatures are usually in the 50s and 60s.  Winds in March and April may be challenging. 

Maps depicting Route 90 prepared by the Arizona Department of Transportation are available at http: .  An interactive map is available on the Adventure Cycling website:

Route and Communities Descriptions
Route 90 leaves Tucson eastward on the Interstate 10 north frontage road.  At I-10 Exit 281, the route crosses the interstate and goes south on State Route (SR) 83, beginning a 15-mile climb of about 1,800 feet.  SR 83 has narrow to no shoulders.  Just south of I-10, Route 90 turns left (east) onto Old Sonoita Highway which parallels SR 83 for about 7 miles, avoiding the sometimes moderate traffic on SR 83.  (The Arizona Department of Transportation’s USBRS Route 90 Turn-by-Turn Directions and Google Maps identify the road as "Charloais Road," but the road signs read "Old Sonoita Highway.")  At the south end of Old Sonoita Highway, turn left (south) and continue on SR 83, which entails a long climb, a nice descent, and rolling terrain of grasslands and cattle ranches to the community of Sonoita, 26 miles from I-10.  The Santa Rita Mountains are to the west.  There are no services between I-10 and Sonoita.

Sonoita, at the intersection of SR 83 and SR 82, is a very small community of businesses serving area ranches and residents.  The community has several cafes and restaurants.  There is one inn in Sonoita (Sonoita Inn, rates $125-$150); the next closest motel is in the small town of Patagonia, a 12-mile, 700-foot downgrade ride southwest on SR 82 (off of Route 90).  Camping is available at the Sonoita Fairgrounds just south of the SR 83/SR 82 intersection.  There are restrooms and shelter but no showers; the fee for camping is $10.  Call the fairground (520-455-5553) at least the day prior to arriving to ensure the gate to the camping area and restrooms is opened.  The fairground website is  Limited grocery items are available at two businesses near the fairgrounds.

From Sonoita, Route 90 continues south on SR 83.  About 6 miles from Sonoita, turn left (east) at a school onto Elgin Road and ride it about 6 miles, past several wineries, to Upper Elgin Road in the miniscule community of Elgin.  Turn left onto Upper Elgin Road and ride it about 5 miles north to SR 82.  Turn right (east) on SR 82, which has little to no shoulders and gentle grades with long sight distances.  A few miles after getting on SR 82, the route passes between the Mustang Mountains to the south and Whetstone Mountains to the north.  [Route 90 avoids about 8 miles of SR 82 immediately east of Sonoita which have limited sight distances due to hills and curves, no shoulders, significant truck traffic, and guardrails which prevent "bailing off" the road if necessary.  Route 90 adds about 5 miles over riding SR 82 from Sonoita, but it's an easier and safer ride worth the added distance.]   

Eleven miles east of Upper Elgin Road, SR 82 intersects SR 90 in an area termed Whetstone.  Other than the wineries, there are no services between Sonoita and Whetstone.  A gas station/mini-mart is at the SR 82/SR 90 intersection.  Camping is available at the Quail Ridge RV Park, ½ mile west of the intersection.   USBRS Route 90 turns south on SR 90 (the two route 90s are a coincidence), which has wide shoulders, and in 13 miles, after passing through the small town of Huachuca City, which has restaurants, reaches Sierra Vista. 

Riders having no need for the services available in Sierra Vista may continue from Whetstone on SR 82 and SR 80 to Tombstone; that routing is about 11 miles shorter than following Route 90 through Sierra Vista to Tombstone. 

Sierra Vista, population 45,000, is the largest city in the 375 miles of Route 90 between Tucson and Las Cruces, NM.  The city has all services bicycle tourists may desire - many motels and restaurants, 2 full-service bike shops, shopping of all types, and medical facilities.  Other than a small bike shop in Bisbee, the next bike shops to the east are in Silver City, NM, (200 miles) and Las Cruces, NM (300 miles).  Fort Huachuca, an active Army installation in Sierra Vista, has a museum with exhibits portraying the fort’s roles from 1877 to the present. 
At the north edge of Sierra Vista, USBRS Route 90 turns left (east) following SR 90, remains on SR 90 for 2 ½ miles, then turns right (south) onto Coronado Drive.  (Visitors’ information and bike camp registration is available at the Oskar Yrun Center about ¼ miles left on Tacoma Street, the first street on Coronado Drive.)  After 0.85 miles, turn left (east) onto the shared-use path on the south side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway.  After 1 mile, at the intersection with SR 90, Route 90 continues straight (east) on Charleston Road towards Tombstone.   

Camping is available at Sierra Vista’s newly-opened bike camp.  The camp provides a large room for sleeping and securing bikes and gear, two  bathrooms with showers, a kitchen stocked with coffee and other essentials, and a clothes washer and dryer.  There is no charge for the camp; donations are accepted.  The bike camp is located at 3030 E Tacoma Street, a couple of minutes ride off of USBRS Route 90.  When possible, campers are requested to call 520-458-7922 between 8 and 5 on weekdays prior to arriving, to ensure the bike camp is prepared for you. 

Campers may register at the following locations during the indicated times:
Oscar Yrun Community Center
3020 E Tacoma Street, next to the bike camp
Monday – Friday    8am to 5pm

"The Cove" Sierra Vista Aquatic Center
2900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, about 1-1/2 miles from the camp
August through May   June-July
Monday – Thursday    7:30am – 6:00pm     Tuesday - Thursday   7:30am – 6:00pm
Friday   7:30am – 4:30pm    Friday   7:30am – 5:30pm
Saturday    9:30am – 5:30pm   Saturday – Sunday   9:30am – 5:30pm

If arriving after these times, campers may telephone 520-678-0451 to register and obtain the combination for the bike camp.  Please do not call after 10 pm. The building is used by Leisure Services and not available to campers from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  On Thursdays and Fridays, campers may relax in the Oscar Yrun Community Center until the bike camp is available.
Route 90 leaves Sierra Vista on Charleston Road, which has a slight downgrade 8 miles to the San Pedro River, then climbs 9 miles to Tombstone.  The San Pedro River does not look like much of a river, but it is the only flowing river between the Colorado River, 300 miles to the west, and the Rio Grande, 225 miles to the east.  The river serves a flyway for millions of birds migrating between the US and Mexico.  Charleston Road has narrow-to-no shoulders.  Traffic can be moderate during commuting hours, especially when school is in session.  No services are available along the route, except a vault toilet just east of the San Pedro River accessed by a short dirt road on the north side of the highway.

Tombstone, the legendary “Town too Tough to Die,” was founded after silver was discovered in 1879.  Home to figures such as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday, the town retains its Wild West flavor.  After entering the town on Charleston Road, which turns into Summer Street, turn right onto Allen Street.  Enactors in roles of gunfighters, lawmen, and shady ladies add atmosphere to historic Allen Street.  The visitors’ center is at Fourth and Allen streets.  Headboards at the graves in the Tombstone cemetery reflect the hazardous of life of the 1880s.  The town has several restaurants and motels and a small grocery store.  Tent camping is available at three RV parks/campgrounds.

Route 90 leaves Tombstone going south on SR 80 (one block east of Allen Street), which has good shoulders and long up and down grades for approximately 15 miles to the intersection with SR 90.  From that intersection, Route 90 continues on SR 80 into the Mule Mountains, climbing about 1,300 feet in 6 miles to Mule Pass, just north of Bisbee.  There are no services between Tombstone and Bisbee.  Route 90 intentionally avoids the tunnel at the top of Mule Pass.  The tunnel is hazardous for bicycles, having no shoulders and marginal lighting.   Route 90 turns left onto Old Divide Road just before the tunnel and goes over the pass.  It's not much more of a climb and is less steep than SR 80 getting to the road.  Views from the 6,000-foot high pass are spectacular.  After the pass, Route 90 returns to SR 80 into Bisbee.  Alternatively, riders can take West Blvd. from Old Divide Road to Tombstone Canyon Road, which winds down the canyon into the heart of downtown Old Bisbee.

Bisbee, once known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps,” was one of the richest mineral sites in the world.  In the late 1800s, it was the largest city between Denver and San Francisco.  Old Bisbee is located in a narrow, winding canyon, with its well-preserved early-twentieth century downtown at the bottom and houses climbing the steep slopes.  After the mines closed in the 1970s, much of the population left the town.  An influx of creative free spirits found Bisbee's historic district to be an attractive and inexpensive location to settle, founding the current thriving arts scene.  Services available include restaurants, hotels, motels, B&Bs, groceries, and a bike shop.  There is no camping available.

Riders on a fast track wishing to avoid the climb into Bisbee and lack of camping facilities may follow Alternate Route 90, which turns left (east) off of SR 80 about 5 miles south of Tombstone onto Davis Road.  After a 23-mile downgrade into the Sulphur Springs Valley, turn right (south) onto US 191 at McNeal and continue 22 miles to SR 80 and then to Douglas.  There are no services on the alternate route.

Departing Bisbee on SR 80, Route 90 passes a huge open pit copper mine which operated until 1974.  Just past the open pit, after crossing beneath a railroad bridge, a right turn onto Erie Street takes riders into the past in the downtown business district of Lowell, with mid-1900s store fronts and period cars parked on the street.  Route 90 follows SR 80 east from Bisbee mostly downgrade with good shoulders across the Sulphur Springs Valley for 24 miles to Douglas.  There are no services on the route.   

Douglas is a former copper-smelting town located at the Mexico border.  The Gadsden Hotel, a historic landmark opened in 1907, features a Tiffany stained-glass canopy and windows and a grand marble staircase.  Services include the hotel, motels, restaurants, and groceries.  Camping with restrooms and showers is available at the Cochise County Fairground.  If arriving after 3 p.m. on weekdays, call the fairground office, 520-364-3819, prior to 3 p.m. to have the facility open; on weekends, call 520-456-6244.

Route 90 follows SR 80 for 50 generally-level miles to Rodeo, New Mexico, a couple of miles past the Arizona-New Mexico border.  The Chiricahua Mountains to the west are named after the Chiricahua Apache band which lived in the region; Cochise and Geronimo were leaders of the band during conflicts with the U.S. Army and settlers.  There are no communities or services between Douglas and Rodeo; riders must carry sufficient water and food.  A monument at a location noted on maps as “Apache” commemorates the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, which ended the Indian wars in the U.S..  Rodeo has a café, cabin lodging, camping, and limited groceries.

Summary of distances between communities
   Interstate 10 Exit 281 to Sonoita:      26 miles
   Sonoita to Sierra Vista:          41
   Sierra Vista to Tombstone         17
   Tombstone to Bisbee            24
   Bisbee to Douglas            24
   Tombstone to Douglas – Alternate Rt. 90   50
   Douglas to Rodeo, NM          50

Bicycle Route 66 / Places of Interest along Route 66
« on: April 08, 2015, 11:39:11 pm »
With Route 66 maps now available, people planning to ride the route may like to hear from previous riders what they feel are worthwhile places to see along the Mother Road.  I'll kick off what could be a continuing thread describing "gems" along the route.

The Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum (110 West Howard Street) is a good Mother Road museum, concentrating on the history of Route 66 in Illinois.   

The Livingston County War Museum (321 N. Main Street) contains artifacts, weapons, and uniforms worn by county residents from WWI to Afghanistan and Iraq.  The extensive collection and the stories of the veterans manning the museum vividly demonstrate the contribution of one small county to our nation.

 Afton Station, housed in an old 1930s D-X gas station downtown on Route 66, is a free, friendly, privately-owned Route 66 visitor's center with a wonderful collection of vintage Packards and Route 66 memorabilia.  Maps, guide books and a few trinkets with a Route 66 theme are available.

Stroud Safety Apparel, on Route 66 downtown, manufactures high-visibility shirts, vests, and other safety clothing.  If you can use some high-viz items, with or without reflective stripes, this place will meet your needs.  While its business is fabricating thousands of items for shipment, the friendly staff is happy to provide just what you need.

Built in 1936, the Rock Cafe has been a popular Route 66 attraction for over 70 years.  Destroyed to just walls by a 2008 fire, the cafe was rebuilt and re-opened in 2009.
Rock Café proprietor Dawn Welch is the basis for animated character Sally Carrera in the Pixar film Cars.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton is my pick for the best of many Route 66 museums along the route.   The museum’s galleries provide an exciting, well-displayed journey through the history of the Mother Road.  The museum is about ½ mile north of I-40 Exit 65 on Business I-40 (Gary Blvd.).

To relive early Route 66 travelers’ experience of crossing mile after mile of seemingly endless, empty high desert, divert from Adventure Cycling’s route and ride New Mexico Highway 6 between Los Lunas and I-40 Exit 126.  This 40-mile stretch of road was Route 66 from 1926-1937, when the route from the east doglegged north to Santa Fe, then south through Albuquerque to Los Lunas, where it turned northeast towards Grants.  There are no services and almost no signs of civilization on NM-6, other than the highway and a railroad track – just miles and miles of wide-open scenic New Mexico.  The easiest way to get to Los Lunas from Albuquerque is to ride the Paseo Del Bosque bike trail along the east side of the Rio Grande south to its end at Bridge Boulevard SW.  Ride Bridge Boulevard west across the river.  About 4 blocks past the river, turn south on Isleta Boulevard (NM-134) and ride that road Los Lunas.

“Sky City” of Acoma Pueblo is well worth the scenic 15-mile side trip south of Route 66.  The pueblo, the longest continuously-inhabited community in North America (since 1150) sits atop a 357-foot-high mesa, with spectacular views overlooking a green valley circled by cliffs and mesas.  A new museum and visitor center has an extensive collection of art and artifacts, as well as information about the pueblo.  Tours of the pueblo (the only way visitors are permitted) are very informative.  The visitors’ center has a good restaurant.  Roads from I-40 Exits 96 and 108 lead to the pueblo.

If one is looking for lodging in the Acoma Pueblo area, the Sky City Casino & Hotel, at I-40 Exit 102 is convenient.  It’s a modern facility, with at least a couple of dining areas.  Room prices for 2 start at about $80 Sunday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday rates are significantly higher; perhaps that’s when weekend gamblers arrive.

Bicycle Route 66 / Arizona - New Mexico Route 66 Tour
« on: October 27, 2013, 11:35:55 pm »
Route 66 Tour from Holbrook, Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hi – I’m John Wettack, 72 years old, living in southeast Arizona.   I enjoy touring historic routes, including the Oregon, Santa Fe, and Chisholm trails and for the past few years have toured parts of Route 66.  Here’s a report on my most recent Route 66 ride.

Three friends and I rode a 400-mile tour of Route 66 between Holbrook, AZ, and Santa Fe, NM, September 9-15, 2013.  Our objective was to ride Route 66 where present, with a couple of off-route detours.  Our overnight stops were Chambers, AZ, and, in NM: Gallup, Grants, the Sky City Casino hotel, Los Lunas, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. 
Day 1: From Holbrook: US-180 to the Petrified Forest Road to ride through that national park (a worthwhile detour), then I-40 to Chambers.  72 miles
Day 2: From Chambers: Frontier Road (Rt. 66) to Sanders; I-40 to Lupton; NM-118 (Rt. 66) to Gallup.  55 miles
Day 3: From Gallup: NM-118 (Rt. 66) to I-40 Exit 36; I-40 to Exit 47; NM-122 (Rt. 66) to Grants.  [The I-40 shoulder between Exit 36 and 38 has cracked pavement and some loose sand/small gravel, east of Exit 38 the shoulder was in good condition.  Our group, with 32mm to 38mm tires had no problem riding the 2-mile poor shoulder section, which for us did not warrant the 30-mile detour recommended on the New Mexico Touring Society website (and perhaps on Adventure Cycling’s route).  65 miles
Day 4: From Grants: NM-124 (Rt. 66) to the Sky City Casino Hotel, with a detour (15-miles one-way) on Indian Highway 38 from McCartys to Alcoma Pueblo (Sky City) and back to McCartys.  The pueblo, occupied since the 12th Century, is well worth the detour, with a modern visitors’ center, museum, and restaurant.  55 miles
Day 5:  From Sky City Casino Hotel: NM-124 (Rt. 66) to Mesita.  A rough 8-mile section of old Route 66 south of I-40 to Correo – the first couple of miles badly cracked pavement, the last couple of miles dirt which was muddy due to previous day’s rain.  [As an alternative, the shoulder of I-40 could be ridden between Mesita and Correo.]  NM-6 (Rt. 66) to Los Lunas.   The only services on the 60-mile day were 7 miles from the start.
Day 6: From Los Lunas: Isleta Blvd. (Rt. 66) to Albuquerque – 25 miles.  We rode the Rail Runner railroad service to Santa Fe, to ride the downgrade route back to Albuquerque the next day.
Day 7: From Santa Fe – Cerrillos Rd. (Rt.66) to I-25 Exit 278 southern frontage road, also Rt. 66, to I-25 Exit 267.  I-25 shoulder to Exit 264.  To avoid riding I-25 to Exit 248 (a section where I-25 eliminated Route 66), we rode NM-16 to NM-22 to Indian Service Road 84 to NM-313 (Rt. 66) at Exit 248.  Our route passed Pena Blanca, Santo Domingo Pueblo, and San Felipe Pueblo.  NM-313 to Alameda Blvd. to get on Albuquerque’s Paseo del  Bosque bike trail which runs along the Rio Grande through the city.

The tour was a good ride through mostly wide-open, scenic country, including several Indian reservations.  I’m estimating about 75% of the ride was on Route 66.  Much of Route 66 is along or near I-40 and I-25.  Food and water are generally readily available, except along NM-6.   Chambers’ one motel is the only lodging we noticed between Holbrook, AZ and Gallup, NM.  The Paseo del Bosque bike trail is a great ride through most of Albuquerque.

Previous Route 66 tours I’ve done have been Flagstaff to Kingman, Arizona; all of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Illinois; and Carthage, Missouri to the Kansas border.  Several websites provide directions for following Route 66 and the history of current and ghost towns and points of interest along the way. 

Anyone with any questions about the parts of Route 66 I’ve ridden can contact me at

Routes / Spokane - Missoula - Spokane Loop
« on: March 29, 2012, 02:02:52 am »
I'm planning a tour this summer of a loop from Spokane to Missoua, taking in the Spokane an North Idaho Centennial Trails, Trail of the Coeur d'Alene and Route of the Hiawatha, and back to Spokane including the Lewis & Clark Route to Lewiston.  I'm seeking information regarding traffic, terrain, services, etc. on the following portions of the route:
   a. Getting from the North Idaho Centennial Trail to the beginning of the Trail of the Couer d'Alene.  Alternatives appear to be US-95 west of the Lake of the Couer d'Alene or Highway 97 east of the lake.
   b. Between the east end of the Trail of the Hiawatha and St. Regis, MT., are frontage roads passable for touring bikes with 35 mm tires present or is riding the I-90 shoulder the way to go?
   c. Lewiston, ID, to Spokane -- US-195 through Colvax vs. US-95 and Highways 58 and 278 through Potlatch and Plummer. 

Thanks for any information and advice.

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