Arizona Border to Border 2014

Taken from Backcountry Discovery Routes.

The full route takes you from near Sierra Vista to Sonoita to Benson to Globe to Young up to the east of Flagstaff and then a big portion on the reservation up to the UT border Northwest of Marble Canyon.

Mostly scenic vs technical and there are 3 nights of camping along the way. A guide was distributed to those that attended. It contained details on the route along with proposed stops. We will allow people to join at any section.

Interactive Map Overview:

Dates: May 30th – June 2nd 2014

Day 0 (29th): Staging and travel down south. I have secured a place for us to stay near the town of Elgin. Asking for donations to pay cleaning person when we leave. There will be 2 rooms available plus great room area and plenty of room for those with RTT or quick tent setup to setup for the night. The plan would be to be down south night of Thursday May 29 so we will be ready to roll out early on “Day 1”.

Day 1 (30th): Sonoita to just south of Globe: This one will be LONG! We will hit pavement as required to keep time and save the dirt for the good dirt and not for the sake of being on dirt!

Pioneer Pass Campground:

Day 2 (31st): Camping: Moqui Group Campground. I made the reservation today. If we can’t make it this far on day one I will have a plan B destination. Deposit PAID! $50

Day 3 (1st): Camping: On the Navajo Reservation near the Little Colorado Lookout. NW of Cameron, AZ.

Day 4 (2nd): Leave the Grand Canyon and head north to the border. Then the long trek home on paved roads.

We have plenty of time for more details. I am looking up all the time and distance between various areas on paved roads. This will allow us options to “sprint” ahead if we need to make up some time.

– Between North of Payson and Winona
– Between Winona and 89 as you head towards Cameron.
– Between Sonoita and Benson

Many of us have probably driven those sections. While scenic I don’t think they are the most important portions of this trail run. We can take a vote and decide. Weather on these days may require plan modifications and we will be prepared for that.

CB Radio will be required!

Interactive Trail Map (GPX): Arizona Border to Border Map

GPX File: AZ Border to Border GPX

Permits Required:
State Land Permit
Navajo Nation Permit: $5 per person purchased in Cameron. Now $36 per person if you camp on the reservation. It SHOULD now cost $12 per per per night. So 2 people for 2 days, 1 night $24 each. I HIGHLY recommend you confirm this in writing before showing up to the permit office. During our visit the office tried to get $24 per day per person. They said you had to pay $12 per day for the hiking permit and $12 per day for camping. Well that just didn’t make sense to us. So when I do this trip again I won’t plan on camping on the reservation.

Firearms on the reservation are allowed if locked up!

A. Offense. A person commits unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon if he or she carries a loaded firearm or any other type of deadly weapon.
B. Exceptions. Subsection (A) of this section shall not apply to any of the following:
1. To peace officers in the lawful discharge of their duties;
2. To persons in private motor vehicle or other means of conveyance, for lawful protection of the person’s or another’s person or property, while traveling and such weapon is located in a closed trunk, luggage, or glove compartment of a motor vehicle;

Narrative From Backcountry Discovery Web Site:

The official start to the AZBDR is a stones throw from the Mexico border in the Coronado National Monument. This is an interesting area both geographically and historically. It is the center of four major biogeographic provinces: Madrean, Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and Southern Rockies/Mogollon. It is also the site of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Expedition of 1540-1542. Information about both can be found at the interpretive overlook a few miles from the park entrance. From there, it’s a mellow ride along the border fence using wide graded dirt roads before heading north to the small town of Sonoita. Fuel up here for your journey through Empire Ranch – historic working cattle ranch from the 1870s. Highlights: Views to Mexico, Ride along the border fence, Visiting Tombstone & Bisbee. Exploring Empire Ranch Headquarters. Heads Up: Heavy Border Patrol activity, be careful in blind corners. DEEP SAND starting at mile 83 near Empire Ranch. Easier alternate is available. Fuel & food available in Sonoita. Camping available at Parker Canyon Lake & Empire Ranch. Many lodging options in Benson.

Heading north out of Benson will bring you through stunningly fertile farm lands along the San Pedro river. The road is wide and hard packed with no major obstacles. It’s a straight shot up to the small town of Mammoth where you can fuel up. Shove a pack of homemade tortillas in your pannier. The tiny Mexican restaurant next to the gas station in Mammoth makes them hot and fresh. Possibly the best we’ve ever tasted. Beyond Mammoth you will be paralleling the highway on a narrow railroad service road on your way to Winkelman. The ride from Winkelman to Globe is a fantastic one. Cactus filled desert disappear into high elevation pine forests as you ride stunning ridges on the way to Pioneer Pass. Highlights: Saguaro Cactus, vertile farms land, Pioneer Pass above Globe.

This is a long and remote section with limited bail out points. Once you get north of Roosevelt Lake the road turns from pavement to a wide two lane gravel road with plenty of camping spots among the giant cactus. Ride a little further towards Coon Creek and Cherry Creek for even better campsites tucked under cottonwood trees along the water. The ride from Coon Creek north to Young is some of the most difficult on the trip with relentlessly rocky two track. There is a less difficult alternative but you’ll miss out on some spectacular views in the Tonto National Forest. Highlights: Camping along Cherry Creek, views of Roosevelt lake, fun two track roads in desolate terrain. Heads Up: There is no fuel between Globe and Young (80 miles). Food and regular unleaded gas is limited but available Young. No lodging along this section.

The Saguaro Cactus and dry deserts make way to Ponderosa Pine, sandstone cliffs and dramatic canyons in section 4. You get a sense for this change almost immediately as the road climbs onto the Mogollon Rim, a 200 mile escarpment that marks the edge of the Colorado Plateau. You can expect a reasonable amount of weekend camping traffic early in this section but expect to see few people the further you go. Highlights: Views from Mogollon Rim, gorgeous Lakes, wildlife. Heads Up: There are no services in this section. If you need gas at Hwy 87, turn left (West) 9.5 miles to gas and food. If you need gas at NF 125, turn left (West) to Mormon Lake Lodge ( Regular Unleaded Only). Plenty of remote camping available along entire section.

Just as Section 4 was much different than those before it, Section 5 has riding that is completely different than anything you have experienced in southern Arizona. The first few miles dissect fast roads made of hard packed volcanic sand. Ancient volcanic cones scatter the landscape for most of the ride.The most impressive is Sunset Crater. Take the opportunity to explore a bit in this area and take photos of the lunar landscape. Of course no ride through Arizona would be complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon. This northern part of this section deposits a few short miles from popular tourist overlooks in to the Grand Canyon. For an even more unique look down peel off onto one of the overlooks outside of the Park in Navajo Nation on your way to Cameron. Highlights: Volcanic cones, Sunset Crater, Grand Canyon. Heads Up: There are no services in this section of the route (125 miles). Camping is available around Sunset Crater. Cameron Trading post is a great place to get a room, food and fuel.

You are about to enter Navajo Nation, one of the neatest sections of the AZBDR. This is a wild, untouched part of our country and while visiting here is welcomed, it is a delicate matter. PLEASE respect the land and it’s people. Stay on posted roads and keep speeds down. There are a few great opportunities to look down into both the Little Colorado River Canyon and the Grand Canyon itself. The roads are wide and nicely graded with no technical spots or difficult terrain to speak of but keep your eyes open for wild horses and packs of dogs around the modest homes that dot the countryside. Once you leave Navajo Nation you’ll have a short slog on pavement before finishing your expedition on 13 miles of fun, mellow dirt roads through Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Congrats! You’ve completed the AZBDR and have experienced the best landscapes and riding in Arizona. ***Note on riding through Navajo Nation**** You MUST obtain a pass to ride and camp in Navajo Nation. Camping and riding permits are $5 each per person ( cash only). They can be purchased at the small round building at the junction of Hwy 64 and 89 in Cameron. Don’t plan on entering these lands after dark after the permit office is closed. Cameron Visitor Center: P.O. Box 459, Cameron, AZ 86020 tel : 928.679.2303, fax:928.679.2017, email: [email protected]. Highlights: Wild Horses, Native American culture, “non-touristy” overlooks into the Grand Canyon, Sandstone canyons of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Heads Up: DON”T forget your Navajo Nation permit. Fuel & Lodging available in Cameron and Marble Canyon. Camping available in Navajo Nation and Vermillion Cliffs.

Fuels stops were made in Sonoita (Start), Benson, Globe, Flagstaff, Cameron, Marble Canyon, and Kanab and Flagstaff on the return journey. Biggest distance between fuel stops was from Globe to Flagstaff. Fuel is available in Clints Well if needed on the rim. 

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