Day 4: Nogales to Sonoita - Southeast Arizona 2016 - CycleBlaze

March 30, 2016

Day 4: Nogales to Sonoita

Today I go northeast to Patagonia and Sonoita. Uphill all the way but the tailwind should make it easy.

Navigation will be much easier today. Continue on Old Nogales Highway, then turn left on AZ 82. I stay on AZ 82 all day.

I never saw downtown Nogales or the border. The closest I got was at the spiral interchange where AZ 82 begins, 1.5 miles from downtown and 2 miles from a busy border crossing.

View towards downtown Nogales from the intersection of Old Nogales Highway and AZ 82.
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East of Nogales on AZ 82.
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The road has light traffic. Narrow paved shoulder for a few miles, but eventually little or no paved shoulder. Visibility is fairly good. That's important because there are occasional long distance trucks barreling through.

Looking north at the Santa Rita mountains. 8585 foot Mt. Hopkins on the left. 9453 foot Mt. Wrightson on the right.
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After a few miles it was apparent that I'm rapidly leaving the Sonoran desert. No more cholla and ocotillo. Hardly any cactus now. Just mesquite and bunch grass.

First flowering yucca plant I saw.
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Highway 82 is extraordinarily scenic between Nogales and Patagonia. Spectacular mountains in all directions. The biggest mountains visible are the Santa Rita mountains to the north.

Small mountains east of Nogales.
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The morning started out mostly sunny but it became gradually cloudier. High of only 65F (18C) but the tailwind kept it from feeling cold.

Santa Rita mountains from the southeast. Observatory visible on the left peak.
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I stopped for lunch in Patagonia. Somehow I never took a single picture there. It has a few arts and crafts stores. The most unusual thing about the town is that it has a 1 block wide landscaped park between the two main streets for a mile.

After Patagonia the highway continues to climb gently in a canyon that obstructs the mountain views.

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Shrine inside a roadside cave.
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The landscape opened up a few miles before Sonoita, with a few ranches. More grass, fewer mesquite trees.

Most ranches did not have a decorative gate.
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The Sonoita area has 8 wineries. They are all several miles off the highway, higher in the hills. I never saw vineyards.

The Sonoita area has several wineries but I never saw a vineyard.
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Sonoita is a tiny town. Population 818 but it looks smaller.

I stayed at the only lodging in town,Sonoita Inn. A beautiful lodge built by Penny Chenery, the wealthy owner of the race horse Secretariat that won the Triple Crown in 1975. The building was originally a crafters' mall, but now it has been converted to lodging. Every room is named after a local ranch, with many photos of the ranch and the ranch's "brand" on display. I stayed in the Vaca Ranch room.

My home for the night in Sonoita. Built by the woman who owned the race horse Secretariat, the 1975 Triple Crown winner.
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Beautiful lobby in the Sonoita Inn.
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Dinner was at a great bar and grille a few blocks away. Behind the restaurant is a patio with an awesome view of the Santa Rita mountains to the west. What a way to end the day.

Sunset behind the Santa Rita mountains.
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Today was an easy day despite the net gain of 1000 feet to 4885 feet (1480 m) elevation. There are even a few scattered oak trees. Sonoita promotes itself as "20 degrees cooler than Phoenix".

I'm on schedule to spend Friday and Saturday night in the tourist town of Bisbee. I asked the hostess if I would need a reservation and she said maybe. She recommended staying at the Copper Queen hotel. So I called the hotel and made a 2-night reservation. No standard room was available Saturday night so I reserved a queen room for Friday and Saturday nights.

Distance: 33.5 mi. (53.6 km)
Climbing: 2134 ft. (647 m)
Average Speed: 7.5 mph (12 km/h)

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 145 miles (233 km)

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