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Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (Apr 2024)

Running a BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route) this year is going to be a little different for us than it has been in years past, for several reasons. First, we'll be exploring a state that - due to its distance from home, or even Las Vegas where the Tacoma is now stored - we've done very little adventuring through. This should be a great thing, as one of the "problems" with the last couple of BDRs we've explored was that we were already reasonably familiar with what we'd encounter, making the trip less exciting. Second, we'll be running the route in April - a far cry from our usual July endeavors - since we're a little worried about the temperatures we'd find in the middle of summer. We're hoping this works out, but we'll certainly be threading the needle as far as snow goes along a couple high-elevation segments of the trail. And lastly, this year we have a schedule to meet. With the Tacoma stored in Las Vegas, we've got flights in and out that are already booked. We've allocated one day per stage - plus a travel day on each end - but it's no secret that unforeseen events can quickly cause a trip to go sideways.

And so, we are headed south - to the border between the United States and Mexico - to the beginning of a 750-mile route that explores the historic Empire Ranch, Sierra Ancha Cliff Dwellings, Mogollon Rim, Saguaro Cactus Forests, Navajo Nation, and Vermillion Cliffs. More mountainous than many expect, we'll experience a green terrain rather than the rocky, remote, and hot environment for which this state is known. Or, at least, that's the promise, as we view the Grand Canyon from vantage points most people never see.

Stage 1: USA-Mexico Border to Benson | 128 miles
Stage 2: Benson to Globe | 127 miles
Stage 3: Globe to Young | 86 miles
Stage 4: Young to Winona | 135 miles
Stage 5: Winona to Cameron | 125 miles
Stage 6: Cameron to Utah Border | 153 miles


As usual, BDR routes can be found on the RideBDR web site. I always find there's a little work to get them into tip-top shape, but that just gets you a little more familiar with the route before you embark yourself!


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