Ironwood Forest National Monument
Marana is the type of town that never gets old. You’ll never tire of seeing the “same old scenery” because nature’s bounty is plentiful in this area. There are trails abound and innumerable things to see and do every day. Among the top of the list for many locals is Ironwood Forest National Monument. Named for the longest-living trees in the Sonoran desert, Ironwood Forest National Monument offers you 129,000 acres just waiting to be explored.
About the Monument
Ironwood National Forest Monument contains a significant number of cultural and historical sites dating back as far as 5,000 years. The area is comprised of a combination of desert mountain ranges – Silver Bell, Waterman, and Sawtooth – with incredible desert valley between the peaks. Elevation varies from about 1,800 to 4,261 feet, depending on location. This area is also home to diverse wildlife, such as pronghorn and mule deer, as well as desert big horn sheep.
Sites Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
With 5,000 years of history behind it, Ironwood National Forest Monument certainly deserves a place on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, this region holds the title for three different areas.
- The Los Robles Archeological District. Dating back to around 1150 and 1300 CE, this area is comprised of villages that once housed an extensive Hohokam community.
- The Mission of Santa Ana del Chiquiburitac. Built in 1811 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the mission was once a thriving village, filled with a bustling economy.
- The Cocoraque Butte Archaeological District. This site also houses ancient Hohokam ruins, in addition to hundreds of well-preserved petroglyphs.
What You Need to Know
The area is not yet built out for visitors. As such, some of the roads and terrain can be a bit rough. Certain areas require high-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicles. If you’re planning to visit this park, it’s best to come prepared with a rugged vehicle that can stand up to the multiple tests the great outdoors can divvy out. Visitors’ facilities, restrooms, and trails have not yet been constructed, so this is the perfect outing if you’re looking for an adventurous weekend in the wilderness.
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