2000: National Monument
About the SiteThe Ironwood tree serves as an important protector of species diversity in the Sonoran Desert. The Ironwood Forest National Monument in the Silverbell Mountains protects an important desert ecosystem, and aids the recovery of the endangered pygmy-owl and other threatened and endangered species. It also has one of the fullest concentrations of Ironwood trees in the Sonoran Desert.
What You're Going to SeeA desert. Saguaros are the classic cacti on display, but there are many more species as well, including cholla and prickly pear. For a desert that doesn't get a lot of rainfall, this Monument supports an amazing variety of life. This ironwood-bursage habitat in the Silver Bell Mountains is associated with more than 674 species, including 64 mammalian and 57 bird species. Whew! Good luck finding them all.
Personal ObservationsI finally drove through the Monument in July of 2005. This is another new Monument, established in 2000 and operated by the Bureau of Land Management, not the National Park Service. As far as I know (and I'm still looking), there is no nearby visitors center, and no stamp. I'll update this if I learn differently. All I spotted on my drive was one nice Monument sign, and another smaller one.
Getting ThereFrom Tucson, take I-10 north to exits 242 or 236 (or, for a dirt road, 226). All three lead directly into the Monument, and all three eventually become dirt roads. From Phoenix, take I-10 south to the same exits.
Nearby AttractionsOrgan Pipe Cactus National Monument is about 80 miles to the west southwest. Tumacacori National Historic Park is about 65 miles south. Saguaro National Park is practically next door, to the east, next to Tucson. Kartchner Caverns State Park is about 70 miles east southeast, and it's worth the drive. Tonto National Monument is about 80 miles to the north. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is about 40 miles to the north. Hohokam Pima National Monument is a mysterious 45 miles to the northwest, but is closed to visitors.