postheadericon Riding the Redington

Nearing the End of the Pavement

I have been wanting to ride on the Redington Pass Road for a long time. I had attempted it with my 2001 Hyundai years ago, shortly after back to Tucson, but I quit after 4 or 5 miles because I kept bottoming out. I have continued to think about riding or driving that road ever since though. I even wrote about part of this ride back in September of 2010.

Unlike my last post, I started “My Tracks” very shortly after starting the ride. I gassed up at the Circle K at Speedway and Houghton and started My Tracks. I wanted to make sure I had all the data for this ride.

Redington Pass Road, starts where Tanque Verde ends. Redington immediately begins to twist, turn and climb. within a mile or so, the pavement ends. There are many switch-backs that provide excellent photo opportunities as well. The first few miles are highly travelled and subsequently are not in very good shape. There are a couple of little swimming holes in this area and many young people like to drive to this area to party.

ADVISORY – If you decide you want to ride or drive Redington, I recommend that you do so on a weekday. Because so many people do their partying with alcohol and/or showing off with friends, this road can be a bit dangerous on the weekends. Additionally, the later in the day you are here, the more likely you will meet people on the road who may have been imbibing.

Shortly after starting the ride, I started thinking about it in two parts. Part I was the dirt/gravel section from the start of Redington Pass Road til I hit pavement again outside of  Pomerene. Part II would be the longer section from Pomerene back home. Just a note, I had actually plotted a route that would allow me to completely avoid travel on I-10 but I chose not to use it this time because my employer called and asked me to come in for some overtime at 6:00pm. It was about 10:00am, so I figured I had about 6 hours to complete the ride. I would need to use the faster route, therefore the RV-250 and the interstate would allow me to do this ride and still make it to work.

One of the pull outs where you can get some good pics.

Back to the ride:  The switchback section allows you to climb fairly rapidly from about 2500′ to just over over 4000′ in just a few miles. There are no guardrails, but the road is pretty wide most of this first section.  There are many places to pull off to the side as well to hike or to snap a few pics.

Can you see the washboards. It was mid-day, so there are no shadows and no contrast to make them stand out.

a straight section at the top of the pass.

Once to the “top” of the west side of the pass, the switchbacks stop. “Washboards” in the road start, however. Though the road has some straights and gentle curves in the section, you cannot really pick up your pace because of them. If you’ve got a dirt bike, you can accelerate and get on top of them and smooth out the ride. In a car, truck or street bike/scooter, you generally have to keep your speed down to maintain control of your vehicle. In my case, I was going 10-15 mph for the majority of this first 50 miles of this ride. I tried to get a couple of pics of the washboards, but they are very difficult to see.

One of the "staging areas."

Across the top of the pass, there are staging areas specifically for off-roaders. There are bathrooms and a bit of shade and places to park your toy-hauler, if that’s the way you choose to get here. You also begin to pass by signs for ranches and see some cattle. I saw some deer as well, but they scampered off into the brush before I could get a decent pic.

You can the ribbon of dirt road looping over the hills. "I'm going over there."

My first good look at the San Pedro River Valley.

There are mile posts along the road which start just before leaving the pavement. About marker 18, you can begin seeing the San Pedro River Valley. You can see green and trees in the distance. It’s quite a contrast from the desert you are going through.

The east side side of the pass does not have the switchbacks that the west side has. There are, however, some steep downhill sections that require a certain degree of skill if you’re on two wheels. Keeping your speed down and watching for big rocks and crevasses gave me a bit of tunnel vision in sections.

All those little dots in the distance are cows.

I was on the road ahead. I turned right, then looked back and snapped this pic of the road sign.

Closer to the river, there are some beautiful views of some irrigated farmland populated by well-fed cows. Once down in I got to the only part where I wasn’t sure where to go. I was expecting to come to a “T” intersection where left went to San Manuel and right to Benson. Instead, I came to a road to my right. There was no sign for me. A sign for vehicles coming along that road indicated that San Manuel was 18 miles if they turned right and Tucson was 23 miles if they turned left. I decided to turn right, assuming that the 3rd option after San Manuel and Tucson was Benson. I was right.

The Pay Phone. You probably don't have cell service anyway.

Another way I knew I was on the right road was the pay phone. Quite some time ago, I was reading about this road and it mentioned a pay phone in the middle of no where along the road to Benson. I had forgotten all about it, until I saw it there. Relieved and knowing that I was on the right road, I pressed on.

A short distance further, I saw a sign indicating that it was 40 miles to Benson. I remembered from writing Riding SoAZ that the southernmost 15 miles of the road are paved, meaning that I still had about 25 miles of dirt and washboards to go. Washboards aside, the road is well maintained, as dirt roads go.

How many arms are on that Saguaro?

Cows, horses, trees and green grass in the desert.

The ride along the river valley is beautiful. There are amazing rock formations and cliffs. There are the largest and probably oldest Saguaro cacti I have ever seen. Unlike the section through Redington Pass itself, there are actually houses along the road.

It is a little weird riding along a dirt road with mile markers and road signs. I don’t know about, but I’m used to most dirt roads being relatively unmarked, except for street names. This section even had a warning sign I’ve never seen before:

Apparently not all hills block your view, hence the reason it's necessary to let you know about it here.

The last 6 or 8 miles of the dirt road finally became smooth enough to pick up my pace. I was able to accelerate up to 35-40 mph in places. I finally saw pavement in the distance and was glad. The RV had begun to develop some rattling on or in the dash. I couldn’t find it. True be told, I haven’t found it yet. I took the time to review “My Tracks:

  • Total Distance (of dirt) – 50.11 miles
  • total Time – 3:27
  • Avg Speed –  14.5mph
  • Min elevation – 2551′
  • Max Elev – 4340′
  • Minimun Grade – 12.9%
  • Max grade – 16.8%

I'm thinking this rock formation has a name, but I couldn't find it.

I reset My Tracks and hit the road again. The rest of the ride moves along fairly quickly. The ride into Benson is fun. The road is in good condition and there are a lot of hills and long sweeping turns. The RV was able to stretch it’s legs a bit after going so sow for so long.

Pomerene Volunteer Fire Dept

I stopped briefly in Pomerene to return to return a couple of text messages and take a couple more pic. I didn’t have cell service for most of the first half of this ride. Pomerene reminds me of a lot of little farm towns in New Mexico.

"Old Benson Ice Cream Stop"

Although I wanted to spend a bit of time exploring, the clock was running and I needed to get heading toward home. I took a couple of pics in Benson, then headed for I-10. Once again, it was windy. I was getting blown all over my lane, but pressed on. Fortunately, there wasn’t a lot of traffic. High speed and high winds don’t make for good picture taking, so I don’t have any pics from this section.

I got off I-10 at the earliest exit that would still get me home, that being the Route 83 exit outside of Vail. I stopped in Vail to get a much needed drink then went home. “I turned off My Tracks” and noted the following data for the second part of this ride:

  • Total Distance – 67.09 miles
  • Total Time – 1:58
  • Max Speed – 67.78mph
  • min Elev – 2598′
  • Max Elev – 4207
  • Min grade – 6.2%
  • Max Grade – 6.9%
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3 Responses to “Riding the Redington”

  • Howard Fuchs:

    Hi Howard, we are thinking of doing this one. We went part way a few years ago & want to do the whole one now. Thanks for all the info. It was exciting just to read it.

  • Thanks for posting a comment, Hank. Glad you liked it.

  • Hank:

    Hi Howard
    Great photos and video fantasic trip
    So very happy you had a wonderful time
    Thanks ever so much for posting this
    Take care
    Yours Hank

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