Cool temps open south­ern sum­mits.

Iron­wood National Mon­u­ment, AZ

Backpacker - - NEWS -

We’re used to think­ing of win­ter as lim­it­ing route op­tions. Go far enough south, and the op­po­site be­comes true. The Sono­ran Desert flat-out scorches sum­mer hik­ers, but by win­ter, day­time highs drop from 100 to 70¡F in Iron­wood For­est National Mon­u­ment. And re­silient ex­plor­ers will need ev­ery ad­van­tage to sum­mit Ragged Top Moun­tain, a trail­less, 3,907-foot chunk of vol­canic rhy­o­lite that juts sky­ward just out­side Tuc­son. But a tough trek has its re­wards: soli­tude in a pris­tine sec­tion of wilder­ness and the only pop­u­la­tion of desert bighorns around. To do it, nav­i­gate a prickly bushwack to the south flank. There, a loose gully climbs 1,600 feet through class 3 ter­rain to a sad­dle west of the sum­mit with views of the piney ar­royos snaking across the ba­jada. “It’s a con­tin­ual ad­ven­ture,” says Dana Davis, owner of Tuc­son’s Sum­mit Hut. “When I hiked it, we saw pet­ro­glyphs near the base.”

TRAIL­HEAD 32.462959, -111.465390; 42 miles north­west of Tuc­son on W. Sil­ver­bell Rd. PER­MIT None CON­TACT­wood

Ragged Top is the cen­ter­piece of the trail­less area.

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