This page is for…you guessed it: Frequently Asked Questions. Don’t let this be a substitute for your planning, perhaps a good place to start. FAQs aren’t in any particular order.
Q: Where do I begin with planning?
A: Right here. Check the commonly asked questions, then dig into the website using the menus at the top. Please familiarize yourself with the rules of self-supported bikepack racing as it pertains to the AZTR. Download the most current GPX track. There are linked ride reports on the Results page. Dig into the ATA website, most of your questions can be answered there. Please consider becoming a member or make a donation. The trail depends on membership and donations to keep things running smoothly over 800 miles. Remember, the Arizona National Scenic Trail is very open and welcoming to mountain bikers. If you’re on social media, there’s an AZTR group that can assist with questions. Forums are also still in use, browse through recent posts on the Ultra Racing forum for more insight. For more general stoke, follow @azt300_800 on Instagram.
Q: When does registration open?
A: One month prior to the Grand Depart. Which is currently the 4th Thursday in October
Q: Is there a waitlist?
A: Yes. If the 74 rider limit is reached, that’s 74 riders combined for the 300 & 800, I’ll keep a waitlist. To avoid being on a waitlist, consider starting on a different day doing an ITT (Individual Time Trial). ITTs are highly encouraged and as long as the AZTR Rules are adhered to, your result will be tabulated and posted
Q: Is a tracker required?
A: No, but it is highly encouraged. SPOT units may be rented through Trackleaders or a personally owned device may be used. Garmin InReach devices also work with Trackleaders. Let family and friends follow your adventure!!
Q: Where is the start and what is the best way to get there?
A: The start for both the 300 & 800 is now at border monument 103. Ride starts at 7a local time. See pic below for driving directions. I kindly ask that you follow these for both dropping off riders and heading out, helps to avoid conflict between riders and vehicles and hopefully eliminates dust for the riders. Thank you!!
Q: Is this route suitable for a gravel bike?
A: Short answer: No. Most riders choose either a full suspension or hardtail mountain bike. Some prefer rigid, others singlespeed. Go with what you like, but realize this is a very rugged and demanding route.
Q: How is the water reliability along the route?
A: Depends. A great place to start your water research is on the ATA website. While there, please consider becoming a member, the trail doesn’t exist without members and donations.
Q: Do I need to carry a water filter?
A: It is recommended. A lot depends on how much water you plan to carry. If you need/want to filter more frequently, expect some less than optimal water sources. Some sources may require pre-filtering. Consider other means of water treatment if high sediment is present.
Q: What GPS should I use?
A: There’s no perfect device, but many riders use a Garmin eTrex (AA batteries) or an Edge series (internal rechargeable battery). Wahoo GPS units have also become more popular.
Q: What are the best tires to use for the harsh desert terrain?
A: This is entirely open to personal preference, but whatever brand/model you choose, be sure they have sidewall protection and you carry extra sealant.
Q: What are the typical temperatures riders should expect?
A: Temperatures can and probably will vary widely, especially on the 800 route. Expect desert temperatures to be in the 80-95 range during the day, 40’s at night. Mt. Lemmon can drop below freezing at night. On the 800, daytime temps in the high country should be in the 50-65 range with nights falling below freezing. The North Rim could be in the teens at night. In short, plan for everything!! Hot to cold!! Be sure to check the 10-day forecast for towns along the route as the Grand Depart nears.
Q: How do I get a camping permit for the Grand Canyon if I don’t know when I’ll be arriving?
A: The Backcountry Office at the South Rim offers walk-up permits, if available, for both Bright Angel & Cottonwood Campgrounds. If permits are not available, inquire about the stock sites at each campground for AZT through travelers. *Remember: permits are required if you plan to sleep below the rim. No napping on the trail. If you don’t have a permit, you are expected to complete the full rim-to-rim hike in one push. No exceptions, zero tolerance. This also goes for the bike portage of the trek, wheels can NOT touch the ground. Bikes must be disassembled and carried, absolutely no riding or rolling below the rim.
Q: How do I affix my bike & gear to a backpack for the Grand Canyon portage?
A: There have been a few variations over the years, but most prefer to use a pack with a wire frame for support. A great resource, while now dated, is still very relevant and offers a few links to what others have used. Carrying a bike via backpack
Q: Do I need any other permits for the ride?
A: For the 300, no. As long as you camp within the 15 foot corridor of the AZT as it traverses through State Trust Land. If you plan to camp outside this corridor OR plan to ride the 800 route, you will need a permit. An individual recreation permit for State Trust Land may be purchased online here.
Q: Any other special use areas along the route?
A: Yes. For both the 300 & 800, the AZT passes through private ranch land and the trail is only open between sunrise and sunset. Please respect this and adjust your start time if necessary when doing an ITT (Individual Time Trial). The area is approximately located between miles 52 – 54 of both routes, the final 2 miles before reaching SR82 north of Patagonia. If you can’t make it to SR82 before sunset, find a camp location before mile 52.
Q: Can we use the bear boxes, aka public water caches, along the AZT?
A: Technically, yes. However, this is discouraged. Being a bike rider, we can cover much more ground than a hiker and they are more dependent on the cache boxes than we are. If you do use water from a cache box, please DO NOT use water marked with someone’s name on it!! Their life may depend on it. Don’t plan on water being available at all and definitely DO NOT arrive at a cache box dry. Please, please use sparingly. If any water is dropped off at a cache box prior to the AZTR, is MUST be marked as PUBLIC water. Again, don’t rely on it being there.