Activities and Safety

Bow hunting is very popular in the Ironwood Forest National Monument, especially for deer and javalina. Photo BLM.

Bow hunting is very popular in the Ironwood Forest National Monument, especially for deer and javalina. Photo BLM.

   Visitor Activities

  • primitive camping
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • wildlife and plant viewing
  • horseback riding
  • photography
  • sightseeing
  • wildflower viewing in spring
  • hunting
  • birdwatching
  • fossil and geologic sightseeing
  • historic and archaeological sites

Collection and removal of any artifacts, plants, animals, rocks or minerals is prohibited.

Safety

The monument has been a travel corridor for illegal immigrants and drug smugglers traveling from Mexico. All suspected illegal activities should be reported to BLM or local law enforcement authorities. Visitors should stay safe by avoiding contact with persons exhibiting suspicious behavior or engaged in dangerous activities. Drive with caution and look for fast-moving vehicles and pedestrians on back roads, particularly at night. When planning your trip, contact the Tucson Field Office of the BLM for the latest safety and travel condition update at (520) 258-7200.

Be prepared and always take plenty of water, bring plenty of fuel, and let someone else know your travel plans. Cell phones may not work in remote areas. Hunting is allowed within the monument in accordance with Arizona Game and Fish Department regulations.

Special Features

Ragged Top Mountain is the biological and geological crown jewel of the national monument. Several endangered and threatened species live here, including the Nichols turk’s head cactus and the lesser long-nosed bat. The national monument also contains habitat for the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl. The desert bighorn sheep dwelling in the region are the last viable population indigenous to the Tucson basin.

The area holds abundant rock art sites and other archaeological objects of scientific interest. Humans have inhabited the area for more than 5,000 years. More than 200 sites from the prehistoric Hohokam period (600 A.D. to 1440 A.D.) have been recorded in the area. In more modern times, the area was a source of minerals and continues to support active mining operations today.

Permits, Fees, Limitations

No permits are required to visit the national monument. Vehicles must stay on existing routes. Use of vehicles off-road, cross country, or in washes is prohibited. Existing roads are primitive and not regularly maintained – high clearance vehicles or four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.  Routes are subject to frequent “wash outs” by storms and may be impassible or hazardous. Please leave gates as you find them. Avoid camping near livestock water and corral facilities. Be aware that the Monument is open range for cattle.

Be a responsible monument visitor

We need your help to ensure that the Ironwood Forest National Monument remains the stunning place it is today. Respect the land, wildlife and other visitors, tread lightly and leave no trace. If you see something that shouldn’t be happening, please let us know and report the incident to the BLM at 1-800-637-9152

Accessibility

There are no developed facilities on the monument.

Camping and Lodging

Primitive camping is available on the monument. Camping is allowed for up to 14 consecutive days on Monument land. Camp at least ¼ mile from water sources, and avoid corrals and blocking roads or trails. Extinguish all campfires before leaving them unattended. Do not take live or dead-standing wood. Check for seasonal fire restrictions which are common on the Monument.

Lodging is available in Marana and Tucson.

Food and Supplies

The nearest stores are in Marana or Tucson, AZ.

First Aid

There is no first-aid available on-site. The nearest hospitals are in Tucson or Casa Grande, AZ.

Additional Information

Hazards include poisonous snakes, africanized bees, and potential encounters with illegal users of public land. Hunting is permitted through the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The national monument contains mixed land ownership including state trust lands and private lands. Recreation on state trust lands requires a permit from the State of Arizona. Visitors should not trespass on private lands.  Contact the Tucson Field Office for additional information.

Tucson Field Office
Claire Crow, Ironwood Forest National Monument Manager
3201 E. Universal Way
Tucson, AZ 85756
(520) 258-7200

When Visiting Southern Arizona: BLM Cautions Public of Illegal Activities Occurring in Southern Arizona

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands in southern Arizona continue to experience illegal activities, including drug and human smuggling. Visitors to public lands are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings while in southern Arizona. In the past, encounters with drug smugglers have typically been non-violent in nature; however, recent BLM law enforcement reports indicate smugglers may be armed and have displayed aggressive behavior toward people working or recreating on public lands in southern Arizona.

Visitors to BLM public lands in southern Arizona, including the Sonoran Desert and Ironwood Forest National Monuments, need to be aware of these activities. Remember the following safety tips:

  • Cell phone service is out of range in many remote areas.
  • Know where you are at all times, follow good safety procedures and use common sense when making decisions.
  • Do not pick-up hitch hikers.
  • Keep valuables, including spare change, out of sight and lock your vehicle.
  • Avoid traveling outside of well-marked roads and routes.
  • People in distress may ask for food, water or other assistance.  Do not make contact. Report the location of the distressed people to the nearest BLM or other law enforcement authority.
  • Report ANY suspicious behavior to the nearest BLM office or contact Law Enforcement Dispatch.

The BLM is alerting the public to be aware of their surroundings when visiting public lands in southern Arizona, and to follow the safety tips above. Your safety is important. If you see anything that looks illegal, suspicious or out of place, do not intervene. Note your location and call 911, or report it to the BLM Law Enforcement Dispatch at (623) 580-5515, as quickly as possible.