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8 Best Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Sites

Last updated on May 8th, 2022 at 12:40 am

Ironwood Forest National Monument

Have you ever been to or heard of the Ironwood Forest National Monument? When looking for the perfect family vacation for the summer or spring break, you may want something that has attractions that the kids will love and you may want to try new experiences. One thing that didn’t cross your mind was taking your family to a monument. You may have heard about the Ironwood Forest National Monument from a family member or friend.

If you have never visited the Ironwood Forest National Monument, there are several reasons why you should. This monument is known for its wildlife and trails to hike on. People come from all over the world to see the scenery. When you look at it from a distance, the landscape is incredible. It takes your breath away and you must stop and take everything in before you move on to any of the activities they have to offer at the monument.

Before you decide to visit, it’s best to learn about the history of the Ironwood Forest National Monument. You will find out a little more about how it became one of the most popular destinations to visit all year round.

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History of the Ironwood Forest National Monument

Do you remember former President Bill Clinton? He created the Ironwood Forest National Monument approximately 22 years ago in 2000. The name, Ironwood, is named after one of the world’s oldest and longest-living trees in the desert. You will find this monument located in the Sonoran Desert in Tucson, Arizona. If you are familiar with the Saguaro National Park, this monument is west of that park and pretty close in distance.

This Ironwood Forest National Monument sits on 129,000 acres of land. Before this monument became what it is today, it has a history dating back to the year 1700. It was reported that before this became the Ironwood Forest National Monument, there were villages and campsites. The people that lived there were hunters and gatherers. A hundred years later in the year 1800, there have been reports of cemeteries and camps but none that we saw near our boondocking site.

There are also artifacts distributed throughout the land across 3,000 sites The history behind the land is what makes up the Ironwood Forest National Monument today.

8 Best Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Sites

1. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Locations – Ironwood Forest NM Dispersed

Address
Pipeline Road
Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.45514, -111.45866
Elevation: 2280′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

You may stay 14 days at Ironwood Forest NM Dispersed. There are no developed campsites with facilities within the national monument. Visitors can pick their own campsite, but please camp at least 200 feet from water sources and use .

2. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Campsites – Iron Wood Forest

Address
Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.451147, -111.375582

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Paved. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Just off a many times patched, paved road. Desert, but you can pitch a tent or park a rig. No facilities. Quiet at night, on national Forest I believe. Stayed here one night, the morning had a bit of traffic coming in and out, some bicycle riders.

3. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Spots – Ironwood Forest National Monument

Address
Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.44358, -111.37506
Elevation: 2005′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and 10 miles from a paved road. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. Use El Tiro road to get from I10 to here. Don’t use Silverbell road, there is a 6000 lb limit bridge on that road and any sized rig simply is to heavy. The area is very nice, please continue to keep it nice.

4. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Locations – W Manville Rd BLM

Address
Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.293854, -111.35112
Elevation: 2119′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The maximum RV length at W Manville Rd BLM is Any. You may stay 14 Nights at W Manville Rd BLM. Free dry camping on BLM land just west of Saguaro National Park (and Tucson) in Pima County. Near ultralight Aviation Center. Make sure you make it all the way west THROUGH the gate to the Ironwood Forest National Monument and onto the BLM land.

5. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Campsites – Brady Pump Road BLM land

Address
Eloy, Arizona
GPS: 32.763259, -111.423012
Elevation: 1640′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

Beautiful peaceful weather no amenities No trash can Must be self contained No water great cell service dogs can run around already fire ring is here no trash nor glass on the ground very clean

6. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Spots – Park Link BLM

Address
Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.612345, -111.209754
Elevation: 2310′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt and 1 miles from a paved road. Park Link BLM is open Year ’round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. We found this camping spot after the local BLM office for the Ironwood Forest National Monument  recommended this area for our sized camper. It is very secluded, but easy to access and has a decent Verizon signal, which we used for calls and with a Jetpack.

7. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Locations – Less Than 6 Miles: – West Tangerine RD and I-10 Marana, AZ

Address
Marana, Arizona
GPS: 32.42496, -111.15914
Elevation: 2041′

Management Public – Dirt Lot (Unofficial)

The road in is Gravel. The maximum RV length at West Tangerine RD and I-10 Marana, AZ is unlimited. Just off I-10. Get off Tangerine RD exit and head towards Ora Valley. On the right you see a stretch of dirt off the road to park. I stayed multiple nights no problems. Can be a bit loud sometimes with traffic.

8. Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites – Snyder Hill BLM

 

Address
Tucson, Arizona
GPS: 32.156941, -111.116493
Elevation: 2471′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Paved. Snyder Hill BLM is open All Year. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is Any. You may stay 14 days at Snyder Hill BLM.

The Top 4 Trails to Hike at Ironwood Forest National Monument

Hiking will give you great exercise and you can see things you haven’t seen yet while on the trail. There are four trails to hike at Ironwood Forest National Monument. Leave the children at the hotel with another adult for these trails. These aren’t easy and a couple of them are best suited for avid hikers. Be sure to clear your afternoon or morning schedule before starting on a hike.

1. Ragged Top North Gully Trail

1. Ragged Top North Gully Trail Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Spots

The first trail at the Ironwood Forest National Monument  to mention is the Ragged Top North Gully Trail. This trail is a four-mile hike, and it may take you over two hours to complete it. Depending on how much of an experienced hiker you are, it could take you approximately to make your way up the trail. It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes, long sleeves, pants, and gloves. No flip flops, sandals, shorts, or tank tops. As you begin the hike, you may think it’s pretty easy.

After the first mile, it gets harder. Be sure to have enough adults in your group for this trip. You will need one adult at the hotel watching the children and one or more adults with you on this trail. The trail can be easy to follow but be sure to pay attention. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. You will be struggling walking over loose rocks in the dirt and rocks. As you walk, you will be moving bushes and cactus out of the way.

That is why you will have to wear gloves, pants, and long sleeves. You don’t want to end up being scratched up trying to get up the trail. It’s best to take breaks during this hike. Stay hydrated with water and keep your energy up with food. Food and water are essential to bringing with you on this hike. Once you reach the top, the hike will be worth it. You will see some amazing views. The hike down will be easier but be careful not to slip and fall, which is why it’s good to have other adults with you.

Length: 4.0 mi
Elevation gain: 1,515 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Over grown, Rocky, Scramble, Off trail

2. Waterman Peak Trail

2. Waterman Peak Trail Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Free Campsites

The second trail is Waterman Peak Trail, and it’s not as hard as the first trail. Even though this hike is a little over a mile long, it can still take you almost an hour to complete. That’s if you don’t stop for food, water, or to look at anything along the way. It’s good to bring poles with you on this hike because it will help you make it through the rocks and dirt. When you’re hiking on this trail, be careful of the steep places.

Length: 1.1 mi
Elevation gain: 567 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leashHiking, Views, Wildflowers, No shade

3. Ragged Top Roof Trail

3. Ragged Top Roof Trail Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Locations

The next trail is the Ragged Top Roof Trail. It’s almost 5 miles long, and it could take you anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to complete. Maybe more depending on how long your breaks are. This trail has beautiful scenery that will catch your eye as you move closer and closer up the trail. The walk starts off easy and you’ll see an occasional campsite, but then it gets harder. The trail will start to disappear a little ways towards the top. It can be confusing for a newcomer that’s never been on this trail before. It’s best to have someone to go with, so the two of you can look out for mile markers or anything that will tell you how to get to the top.

Length: 4.6 mi
Elevation gain: 1,400 ft
Route type: Loop

HikingViews, Rocky, Scramble, Off trail

4. Waterman Mountains Trail to Silver Hill Mine

4. Waterman Mountains Trail to Silver Hill Mine Ironwood Forest National Monument Boondocking Sites

The last trail to tell you about is the Waterman Mountains Trail to Silver Hill Mine is one of our favorites in the Ironwood Forest National Monument . This trail is not as hard as the other trails, but it does have its moments. It’s a two-mile-long hike, and it can take you just over an hour to complete it if you don’t stop for breaks. You will be starting on a road that cars used to travel on but not anymore. If you’re not on a road, then you’re off the trail and will have to find your way back on. You will find some loose rock and some steep hills along the way. It’s best if you pay attention and don’t get distracted, so you don’t slip and fall down the trail.

That’s all the trails in the Ironwood Forest National Monument to share with you. What do you think? Doesn’t it sound amazing? The monument makes for a great family vacation. Before you make your way to the middle of nowhere, keep these tips in mind. There isn’t any cell phone service. It is dry over there, especially during the summer month, so take plenty of water. Bring sunscreen and take snacks when you visit the monument. Most importantly have a fun time.

Length: 2.0 mi
Elevation gain: 698 ft
Route type: Out & back

Dogs on leash, Kid friendly, Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, No shade

That’s all the trails to share with you. What do you think? Doesn’t it sound amazing? The Ironwood Forest National Monument makes for a great family vacation. Before you make your way to the middle of nowhere, keep these tips in mind. There isn’t any cell phone service. It is dry over there, especially during the summer month, so take plenty of water. Bring sunscreen and take snacks when you visit the monument. Most importantly have a fun time.

Things to Do and Places to See

Out of all the historical monuments, the Ironwood Forest National Monument is a place with some great activities for families with kids. You will have to spend the night on the monument in one of the campgrounds to do everything in one visit or in one of our many boondocking spots nearby. You can camp, hike, and even go horseback riding. You can also partake in mountain biking, bird watching, and plant and flower viewing in the Ironwood Forest National Monument . There are several other activities to take advantage of such as sightseeing.

All of these activities may seem overwhelming to you and you may be thinking about how you’re going to do everything. Take one thing at a time. If you’re bringing along children on this vacation, do the things you know they will enjoy.

Horseback Riding

Older children will love going horseback riding with you. There are a few stables very close to Ironwood Forest National Monument. From the nearest stable, you can take the horse through the monument and ride off into some spectacular views. This would be a picture-worthy moment and you will have memories that will last a lifetime. When you’re done, you bring the horse to the stable and make your way back to the monument for the next activity.

Hunt for Fossils

Younger children will love looking for fossils and archaeological sites. They think of it as a scavenger hunt. As previously mentioned, there are around 3,000 sites. Children will be occupied for hours. You can not to take anything from the sites so, if you dig up anything, take your photos, and cover it back up.

Wildlife Viewing and Photography

Another activity that’s fun for all ages is enjoying nature and wildlife. You and your family will be able to see animals up close. There are several animals to see such as mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. It’s best to look at the animals from a distance and never let a child wander away to explore on their own. If you are with a large group, implement the buddy system so you don’t have to be alone.


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