Arizona - Top Bike Climbs

#1
Mt Graham
USA, AZ
#2
Mt. Lemmon
USA, AZ
#3
Kitt Peak
USA, AZ
#4
Mingus (Hwy 89A)
USA, AZ
#5
Globe Young Hwy
USA, AZ
#6
Hualapai Mt. Road
USA, AZ
#7
Snowbowl Road
USA, AZ
#9
Hwy 260
USA, AZ
#10
Buffalo Pass North
USA, AZ
#11
Humboldt Mountain
USA, AZ

Climb List: Arizona
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

Cycling Arizona

Photos clockwise from top left:

Mt. Lemmon; Mt. Graham; South Mountain; Kitt Peak

In our experience, the greatest winter locations to climb mountains by bike in the United States are Arizona and Death Valley, California.  Conversely, it is wise to avoid those areas in the summer -- we speak from experience (uhhh . . . stupidity?)

In PJAMM Cycling’s five cycling trips to Arizona, we have climbed all of the top climbs there at least twice (Mt. Lemmon five times, Mt. Graham four times, and Kitt Peak twice).  Our top Arizona bike climbs in order of subjective preference are:

MT. LEMMON, TUCSON

MOST POPULAR US BIKE CLIMB

Bicycle climb - Top US Bike Climbs - Mt Lemmon - Hoodoos and cyclist, road, mountains, plains

Arizona #2/US #37

Ride 28.8 miles gaining 7,159’ at 4.2% average grade.

In our experience, the most popular bike climb in the US is Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona.  Popular because of the fantastic winter (not summer, although it is always cooler 7,000’ up the mountain than at the bottom of the climb) saguaro cactus at the start and amazing hoodoos at the midway point.

Cyckling Arizona top bike climbs - Mt. Lemmon roadway - one of the hardest climbs by bike in AZ 

This mountain, this climb, is truly an out-of-this-world, unique experience . . .

    Windy Point on Mt Lemmon - Hoodoo formations

                                    . . . and is well-worth travelling from afar to experience. 

Arizona top bike climbs - Bicycle climb Mt. Lemmon - photo of cyclists near Windy Point.

Cycling back down the mountain, just past Windy Point.

Windy Point at mile 14.8 -- Hoodoo Central.

MT. GRAHAM, SAFFORD

ARIZONA #1/US #21 MOST DIFFICULT BIKE CLIMB

Cycling Arizona top bike climbs - Mt. Graham start - straight road - mountains in background

Ride 20.1 miles gaining 6,092’ at 5.5% average grade.

The Mt. Graham bike climb is a very remote, unsupported climb up into the Pinaleno Mountains in the southeastern corner of Arizona.  We have climbed Mt. Graham four times (2010, 2014, 2015, and 2019) and have a special fondness for it.

Arizona top bike climbs - Mt. Graham - bike in roadway - long straight road   

Great roadway surface for the first four miles.

Well paved but a little rough for miles 4-20.

Arizona top bike climbs - aerial photo of road and hairpins - Mt. Grahama 

Two sets of hairpins along the climb, at miles 10 and 14.

    Bike climb Arizona top bike climbs - bike with pjamm jacket at 5000' elevation sign

Altitude markers every 1,000’ from 4,000 to 9,000’.

Arizona top bike climbs - End of Mt. Graham bicycle ride - cyclist, bicycle and road Pavement Ends sign.

Run out of road at the end . . . 

KITT PEAK, 40 MILES SOUTHWEST OF TUCSON

ISOLATED CLIMB WITH CLASSIC ARIZONA HIGH DESERT VIEWS

Ride 12 miles gaining 3,624’ at 5.7% average grade.

This is an isolated climb in southern Arizona, about 40 miles southwest of Tucson, not far from the Mexican Border (Sasabe), rising out of the Sonoran Desert.  Kitt Peak National Observatory is an astronomical observatory southwest of Tucson in the Quinlan Mountains.  There are over 10 observatories on Kitt Peak.  The Mayall 4m telescope (largest of all the observatories) is visible from many locations leading up to and on the ride.

Arizona top bike climbs - Biking Kitt Peak - roadway and many observatories

First eight miles of the climb on the northwest side of Kitt Peak.

Cycling Arizona top bike climbs - aerial drone photo of kitt peak, observatories and road

Last four miles after turning the corner at mile 8.5 and riding on the southeast side to the top.

Climb by bike Kitt Peak - 5000' elevation sign with bike leaning against it

You don’t have to guess at your elevation.

HIGHWAY 89A, SEDONA

GORGEOUS CLIMB THROUGH SEDONA’S

FAMOUS PAINTED DESERT LANDSCAPES

Cycling Arizona top bike climbs - Sedona - aerial photo of mesas

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.

WOW -- what an exceptionally scenic ride!  If you are in the Sedona area with a bicycle, this is a must do, at least from the start at the Red Rock Scenic Byway to Sedona where there is a nice bike lane along the way.  The 14 miles north of Sedona to Oak Creek Viewpoint is along Highway 89A which has no shoulder and has moderate to heavy traffic.  We recommend doing this ride Sunday morning at dawn.

Bike climb Sedona and Hwy 89A - Red Rock Scenic Byway sign. 

Start.

Arizona top bike climbs - Climbing Sedona and Hwy 89A by bike - Cathedral Rock - aerial drone photo

Cathedral Rock

Aerial view south midway between Village of Oak Creek and Sedona.

We travel through a canyon following Oak Creek for many miles and have many extremely scenic Arizona-style red rock formations along the way.  

Arizona top bike climbs - Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park.  aerial drone photo

    Arizona top bike climbs - aerial drone photo - Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Sterling Canyon past Slide Rock - aerial drone photo

Arizona top bike climbs -Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - hairpins near Oak Creek Scenic Viewpoint - aerial drone photo - mountains near flagstaff in background

Hairpins just before finish -- Flagstaff 20 miles north.