The process of getting to either of the Arizona Trail trailheads isn’t terrible, but you do need to do some planning.  Lucky for you there’s many transportation services to get you there and back.  Traveling can be stressful enough or full of potential pitfalls if you don’t know what you’re doing.  I put this Transportation Guide – Arizona Trail together to make it even easier.

To help you navigate your way I put this Arizona Trail Transportation Guide together, covering everything from which airports are closest, how to get from the airport to the trailhead and back, parking options, and the best way to get your bike to the starting line and home again.  This Arizona Trail Transportation Guide covers:

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WHICH AIRPORT TO FLY INTO?

The two most common airports to fly into would be Salt Lake City (SLC) for a start in the North and Tucson (TUS) for a start in the South.  I personally few from SLC to TUS when I did my AZT thru-bike and both airports were extremely easy to access and navigate.  Both airports are not overly large so you don’t have to drag/carry you bike far.

Pro-Tip

If by chance you happen to fly one way to either the start or home from the finish as I did, keep in mind that depending on which airline you choose, your bike could cost more to fly than you.  Choose wisely!

Salt Lake City

SLC is an international airport so you have a few options when it comes to airlines.  United and Southwest will have the most flight options. The full list includes:

If you choose to fly into SLC your transportation to the northern terminus will look something like this.

Option 1 – Schedule to have a friend pick you up and drive 366 miles (about 6 hours) one way to the Stateline Campground.

Option 2 – Jump on Greyhound and get off in St. George.  Then have one services listed below to take you to Stateline Campground. (See notes about taking the bus below).

It is possible you could find transportation to the trail through Craigslist.com or from one of the many Facebook pages for Utah mountain bikers.

Tucson

Tucson International Airport is your closest airport to the southern terminus.  It’s list of airlines is smaller but getting there shouldn’t be a problem.  Like the north, getting to the trailhead is the harder part of your approach.

From TUS you can get on the Tucson’s public bus, Suntran.com
(520) 792-9222 and access various parts of the city but no further.  Using a shuttle service or a friend is your only option to get to the trailhead.  Check on Facebook or on the Forum at Bikepacking.net about carpooling with other racers.

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

Surprisingly the Arizona Trail has many shuttle options to to and from the trail. Due to the remoteness of the southern terminus and northern there are no public transportation options available.  Below is a list of shuttle services that offer transportation to and from the Arizona Trail.  All on the list should be able to accommodate mountain bikes, be sure to ask when you call.  Shuttle space can be limited during peak season.

Shuttles

SOUTHERN ARIZONA

Home Grown Mountain Bike Tours – Offers shuttle service between  Phoenix to the International Border. You can reach them by phone or by email at tara@homegrownmtb.com. 520-237-0129

Southwest Trekking – Offers shuttle service from Mexico to the Gila River. 520-296-9661

Ken’s Shuttle Service – Offers shuttle service for up to 4 hikers to trailhead(s) between Passages 1-13. On- or off-highway travel is available. Call or e-mail kensshuttleservice@gmail.com for pricing information and scheduling. 520-604-6939

CENTRAL ARIZONA

M & B Sedan – Offers shuttle service to and from trailheads on the Arizona Trail between Oracle and Pine/Strawberry. 877-627-3326

Home Grown Mountain Bike Tours – Offers shuttle service between  Phoenix to the International Border. You can reach them by phone or by email at tara@homegrownmtb.com. 520-237-0129

Payson Airport Shuttle – Offers shuttle service from both the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and Mesa Gateway Airport, servicing Payson, Pine, Strawberry and all points in between, including trailheads. 928-363-0754

NOUTHERN ARIZONA

Circle Tours – Offers shuttle services to various northern Arizona/southern Utah trailheads. Contact Kyle Walker at 888-854-7862.

Paria Outpost – Run by Susan and Stephen Dodson, has a shuttle service. Contact them at 928-691-1047

Destination Services – Offers shuttle services with their 9-passenger van for hikers and mountain bikers. 928-645-2789

The Arizona Trail Association has a larger list on their website if you cannot find a ride to/from the trail with those companies listed here.

Busses

Greyhoud  SLC to St. George $38

Bike box – Max size 62″ (157cm) combined length+width+height and 50 lbs or less.

PARKING OPTIONS

Parking at either of the AZT’s terminuses really isn’t an option. Being that the southern terminus is on the US/Mexican border there is no parking available.  The northern terminus is quite far from civilization and your car would be easy prey for thieves to break into it.  It’s rumored that it’s safe to leave your car here but use your own judgement, two weeks is a long time.

Your best option is to get dropped off by one of the shuttle services listed above.  You could also arrange to be picked up by a friend or family member but keep in mind they will have to have a very flexible schedule.  The chances you’ll know exactly when you’ll be there are slim.

Your  last option is to ride to or from the trailhead.  Obviously not the best physical option given what you either are about to do or just did but most likely the cheapest.

SHIPPING YOUR BIKE

Getting yourself to the start is one thing,  but getting your bike there is another issue all together. You only have two options. #1 carry your bike on the plane. #2 Ship it.

Plane

Most airlines charge between $50 and $150. But also require your bike box have a combined size (length plus width plus height) of 62 inches or charges may apply.  Like with planning your resupply and water resources, it pays to do your research when flying.  You can find all kinds of “hacks” around paying for traveling with your bike if you search online.  They range from disguising your bike, saying it’s a trade show item, to paying for a first class upgrade resulting in it being free.  There are too many airlines for me to research them all but don’t hesitate to do the work yourself.

Bicycle handling fees for Airlines - Arizona Trail Transportation Guide - Colorado Trail Transportation Guide - Tour Divide Transportation Guide

Ship

When it comes to shipping you have some flexibility.  Typically you have three options:

  • Box and ship yourself (Shipping starts around $70 for a cardboard boxed bike, but actual cost will depend on weight, size and location)
  • Pay your local bike shop
    • $50 to box (varies per shop)
    • Plus shipping cost (Shipping starts around $70 for a cardboard boxed bike, but actual cost will depend on weight, size and location)
  • Use Bike Flights
    •  Boxes, Pick up, Delivery, Insurance, Tracking and more!  This is a pretty sweet service, definitely check it out.
    • Adventure Cycling Association members get a 10% discount on boxes and cases at Bike Flights, among a list of other discounts with other companies.

Pro-Tip

Whether you’re flying or just shipping your bike be sure to remove your Co2 cartridges.  

Also don’t bother fully taping up your box as TSA will most definitely go through it with you before they accept it.

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