Recent Velonews article about gravel biking in Patagonia, AZ - it's all true

Hey friends, I had seen the recent Velonews article about gravel biking in AZ and The Gravel House airBnB down there. I was super intrigued so my wife and went down there since we only live a few hourse away. It was AWESOME! Everything you may have heard? It’s all true! Quaint, quiet little town. Fantastic riding, great place to stay. A great get away with endless riding options.

I blogged about it, and we’ve been back to camp outside town with our kids. Amazing!

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We went down there 2 years ago in the winter and really liked it. The only issue was I felt like I needed to pack a firearm on our rides due to the proximity of the border. We got close enough that my phone actually thought we were in Mexico and switched to their towers. In general was pretty cool, but with just me and my wife out there by ourselves I really felt we needed a way to defend ourselves if needed. There were a lot of border patrol vehicles on the roads we were on which made me feel significantly better but I’m not sure how that has changed with the new administration.

Interesting on your thoughts Hugh. We thought about camping but decided to park our RV at one of the local RV camps for increased safety. I wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving our camper for 3-5 hours while we were riding.

We felt pretty safe both times we were there. This past weekend when camping we only left our tent and car for like 45min to ride with the kids. And the dog was in the tent sleeping.

I asked the velonews crew (I’m friends with Ben Delaney) about how safe it was and they said they never saw or heard about anything suspect.

Does that mean there’s no possibility of danger? No. But since we saw border patrol trucks EVERYwhere we felt pretty good about it.

Thanks for chiming in!

Serious question: what is the fear about? Drug trafficking? I live nowhere near the southern border so forgive my ignorance, I’m just very surprised that there’s a fear of being on the us side of the border and curious.

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There are signs near Patagonia that explicitly state that there is illegal immigration and smuggling activity in the area. So, while not stereotyping Mexican immigrants, there are some not so savory types operating in the area, and all along the border between the US and Mexico. I don’t let fear rule my life but it’s worth at least being aware of.

Yeah Hugh got it. Two people with very expensive bicycles by themselves on a deserted road where drugs are being smuggled across the border is cause for concern. My thought was leaving our RV was a chance for someone to break in and steal food, money, etc. and we take our two cats with us. There was no way I was going to leave them unattended in an area with people trying to hide from border patrol.

To be honest I don’t think we will go down there again unless it is for the Spirit World 100. Stay in the RV park we did in Patagonia and have a larger group that we were riding with. It didn’t make me feel good at all to feel it was necessary to carry while I was riding. We had a good time, but the nagging feeling that it wasn’t totally safe was always there when we were riding.

I hear you man. Glad to hear you’re using your head and being aware of your surroundings. My wife wants to maybe do the Spirit World event. I’m on the fence about it.

There is plenty of illegal activity near the border in this area. However, it is not dangerous in the sense of it’s a concern for cyclists. Those that are transporting the drugs and/or illegally entering the country are rarely armed or violent. I’d equate it more to encountering wild life, they mostly move at night and they are more scared of you than you of them.

You are no more at risk of being a victim of violence near this area than you would be riding anywhere else that is remote.


As someone living on another continent, thousands of miles away, it’s amazing for me to read that you would carry a gun on a bicycle.

The world is a big place and its different for everyone everywhere, but it just makes my head melt a bit.


Border patrol everywhere? Smugglers trying to not attract attention?

That sounds like a paradise compared to my suburban hellscape. Everyone is in an SUV, late for something, speeding, and talking on their cell phones.


I wish they were talking but they’re texting instead!

Yeah I can understand differences in thought of other countries. I would rather be prepared to defend myself and my family vs just being at the whim of the bad people and having only my lycra covered body to fend someone off with a knife, bat, etc. To each their own and I don’t think we want this thread to turn into a gun or immigration debate.

I chatted with my wife again today about it and I think the big draw for us was the weather in the winter or shoulder seasons. If it’s Late Spring, Summer, or Early Fall, I think there are a lot of other places that have just as good or better riding that don’t have these concerns associated with them.

We are thinking of going up to South Dakota to do a ride that covers a lot of the gold rush mining towns. Should be a fun ride and some really good history.

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I lived in Las Cruces for the last couple of years. It’s a great place if one wants to go somewhere for some weeks in the fall/winter/spring. There are essentially unlimited gravel trails along the Rio Grande - really hundreds of miles of gravel. There are also county dirt roads that venture far into the wild in every direction. I really miss Las Cruces.

My biggest fear was encountering some wildlife I didn’t know how to deal with or having a mechanical 15 miles deep into the wilds and having to walk back in bike shoes.

Haha, I see what you’re saying, but the leaps of logic from “drug smugglers are dangerous” to “if I had a gun, I would be safe”, is crazy. Like how’s the situation go down in your head, you’re approached by cartel drug smugglers and you shoot them, and then what? Do you engage in a running gun fight from your bike?

Not criticizing anything you’re saying, but it’s a pretty stark difference from the way that I would think about it.

My personal thought is that riding on roads is inherently dangerous. A distracted suburban mom in her SUV presents more actual danger to me than any drug smuggler.

No probs. Happy to chat about it if you want to DM me :wink: Pretty sure most here don’t want to see even more political discussions.

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Haha, you’re probably right. Happy riding.

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Keep it friendly guys!! This is about gravel in Patagonia, not guns! That’s a whole OTHER can of worms. LOL!

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