You can find detailed information about places of interest and other such details on each individual route guide. Here’s a few of the places, sights, and points of interests that are along the routes. Each is referenced with the loop(s) with which they are associated.
Town of Patagonia (east, west, and full loops)
The charming town of Patagonia serves as the start and end point of all the Sky Islands Odyssey routes. Once a supply town for nearby mines and cattle ranches, today, Patagonia is home to multi generation ranching families, artists, conservationists, retirees, and a flurry of newcomers who are moving to the region specifically for its excellent access to trails and gravel roads. Among many of its varying hats, Patagonia serves as a trail community for Arizona Trail and the launching point for the growing popularity of gravel cycling in the San Rafael Valley. Home to local art galleries, a natural food co-op, a café, a hummingbird sanctuary, a new gathering place for cyclists, and a few places to stay, Patagonia remains a quiet desert hamlet with an eclectic vibe.
Town of Sonoita (east and full loops)
Sonoita serves as a little respite for resupply. Grab some food from the Sonoita Mercantile or Mini Mart, a meal at the Steak House Restaurant Saloon, a place to sleep at the Sonoita Inn, camp at the fairgrounds, or some ice cream at the Corner Scoop. Sonoita is literally and figuratively at a crossroads; as the only place to fill up with gasoline for miles around, it is a gathering place for ranchers, semi-truck drivers, recreationists, hunters, wine tasters, border patrol agents, and residents. In essence, enjoy the people-watching!
Sonoita Wine Country
There are approximately twenty wineries, meaderies, and cideries in the Sonoita Elgin area. With climate and soil conditions comparable to wine regions in California and Argentina, Arizona’s southern high deserts made the state a major player in international wine circles. Sonoita is one of the most prolific Arizona wine regions, with vast valley farmlands producing nearly three quarters of the state’s grapes to produce award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot varietals.Sonoita was the first location in Arizona to be designated as an American Viticultural Area.
The Sonoita valley receives no outside water, relying entirely on rainfall; precipitation averages 17 inches per year. Climate change, urbanization, a dwindling water table in the Sonoita Valley, and the reality that each grape plant requires 960 gallons of water per season, will likely impact the sustainability of the Sonoita Wine Country in years to come. Read more here.
Kentucky Camp (east and full loops)
Kentucky Camp was built in 1904 as the headquarters of the Santa Rita Water and Mining Company, whose investors hoped to collect water from the Santa Rita Mountains for hydraulic gold mining. The venture was abandoned following the mysterious death of the chief engineer the following year. The property became a working cattle ranch for the next 50 years before being sold to a mining conglomerate. The Coronado National Forest acquired the site in 1989; since then, the forest and volunteers have been working together to preserve the site. Kentucky Camp (and associated features related to the development of the water system and mining in the area) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.A unique feature of this site is its collection of five-century-old adobe buildings. The ten-room headquarters building is one of its era’s largest surviving adobe buildings. A three-room adobe building is available for overnight rental. Go to the Forest Service “Cabins and Camping” web page for additional details on renting this building. (website)
Juan Bautista De Anza Trail (east and full loops)
In 1775-76 Juan Bautista de Anza, an expeditionary leader, military officer, and politician primarily in California and New Mexico under the Spanish Empire, led some 240 men, women, and children on an epic journey to colonize the first non-Native settlement at San Francisco Bay. Today, the 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail connects history, culture, and outdoor recreation from Nogales, Arizona, to the San Francisco Bay Area. (website)
Ruta Del Jefe Event
Article: Put Ruta del Jefe on your Radar: Top six takeaways from riding and learning in the Sky Islands region – SRAM
Article: Chasing the Jaguar: Reflections from Ruta del Jefe 2022 – Dominique Powers
Video: BIKES!!!! with Cheech and Nam: Ruta del Jefe
Article: Madness and Mud: Ruta del Jefe 2020 – Tenzin Namdol
Article: Racing the Ruta Del Jefe in the San Raphael Valley – John Watson
Article: Raw Cycling Magazine: Interview with Sarah Swallow on Ruta Del Jefe