Ironwood Forest National Monument — a preserve of rugged mountains and lush deserts known for its abundant wildlife — lies northwest of Tucson, but many area residents have never been to the site.

A Meet the Monument event Saturday, March 16, is an opportunity to visit the monument and hear from experts about its wonders.

“Meet the Monument brings you out into the pristine Sonoran Desert so you can witness the unique, undeveloped beauty and wonders of the Ironwood Forest National Monument firsthand,” said Jim Avramis of the Friends of Ironwood Forest. The group “presents this as an educational event, introducing you to the monument through walkabouts, presentations and chats with folks that know the desert, its plants and other inhabitants. The views are stunning.”

The free event begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m.

Activities include guided walks with information from experts on plants, wildlife, geology and photography in the area.

Visitors will get a close-up look at the monument’s ironwood trees, which can live up to 800 years or longer and produce brilliant blooms in the spring.

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

Guest speakers will offer presentations on saguaros, rattlesnakes and the bighorn sheep often seen at the monument.

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