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Get to know Ironwood Forest National Monument at a Saturday event

Get to know Ironwood Forest National Monument at a Saturday event

Scenic desert terrain, craggy rock ridges, bighorn sheep and some of the longest-living trees in Southern Arizona are among the many wonders at Ironwood Forest National Monument — but many Tucsonans have never been there.

A free “Meet the Monument” event on Saturday, March 17, offers an opportunity to see and learn about the site northwest of Tucson.

Sponsored by the Friends of Ironwood Forest, the event begins at 8 a.m. and continues to 2 p.m.

“Our purpose is expanding public awareness of the monument and providing educational experiences for folks,” said Jim Avramis of the friends group.

Meet the Monument will feature talks by experts on bighorn sheep, archaeology, saguaros and reptiles. Other events during the day will include guided nature walks and interpretive exhibits.

But for many first-time visitors, the site’s scenic attractions might take center stage.

A craggy peak called Ragged Top stands out as a sort of soaring centerpiece of the landscape.

Gary Borax, a member of the friends group, has noted that it’s always possible that visitors will spot one or more bighorn sheep at the monument.

Getting a closeup look at ironwood trees is, in itself, a good reason for visiting the site.

The trees can live as long as 800 years — or even longer, according to some estimates. They are a pleasing sight any time of the year, but are especially striking when they bloom in the spring.

Organizers suggest that monument visitors bring food, water, sun protection and clothing appropriate for the weather. People planning to take part in nature walks should wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. See the information box for directions.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

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