Iron Creek

A campsite in the Iron Creek campground
An older, quiet campground, this campground is good for wildlife watching, especially birds. Iron Creek is also close to the trailhead for the Railroad Canyon hike.

Campground data:

Controlling agency: Gila National Forest; Silver City Ranger District
Official URL:forest service campground web site
Region: Southwest; Gila.
CG elevation: 7155ft; 2181m
Campsite count: 15. We only counted 13; the Forest service says 15.
Visual density: 0.00. visual density not recorded.
Fee: $0.00.
Season: All year. Winter might make the campground inaccessible when it snows.
Dogs: Yes. on leash
Horses: Yes. No horse facilities.
Handicapped accessible: No.
RV max length: 16ft; 5m
RV parking surface: dirt
RV pull-through spaces? No.
General notes: OHV/ATVs are prohibited in the campground.

Campground roads can be slushy, muddy, or soft, depending on the weather.

You do not park near the picnic tables. The campground is better suited for tents than RVs.

The picnic tables are old and crumbling.

Campground facilities: trash can(s), vault toilet(s), cooking grill (Not all campsites have them.), fire pit (Not all campsites have them.).
Campground attractions: wildlife, year-round access.

When we visited it:

Date: 2003-06-07
Cleanliness: 9.


Waypoint Type Description
IRONCREKCGCampgroundIron Creek campground


Paper maps:
Map name Cartographer Year Scale Topo map? Online access Notes
Aldo Leopold Wilderness US Forest Service 1984 1:63360 Y From Amazon (purchase)
Gila National Forest US Forest Service 1997 1:126720 N from Amazon (purchase) South half
Wildernesses of New Mexico US Forest Service 1981 1:1000000 N No online copies. Base map with national forests, wilderness areas and highways.

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Getting to the campground:

Head west on NM 152 from I-25 (near Caballo). Go through Hillsboro, Kingston, and Emory Pass scenic vista (which is worth a stop). The campground is about 8 miles past the scenic vista.
Iron Creek campground sign

About the campground:

A sample campsite

Here is a representative campsite. Note that you park and walk in to the picnic table. This is not a bad thing, and for tent campers it is convenient.

You can also somewhat see the crumbling of the picnic table in the large version of this photo.

Plants we saw around the campground:

Reader comments about this campground:

On Wed May 24 03:08:20 2006 Elz from Alb, NM said:
This is a very wonderful campsite. Lonely, quiet and suspicious.

It is as pretty as it is eery. You always feel as though you are being watched, but there are no other campers (most of the time). My great grandfather was raised on a farm and ranch in a clearing near the edge of this forest. He would tell stories of never seeing birds fly above and east lying forest line. And his horses would go crazy if ridden near the trees.

On Wed Sep 6 20:29:11 2006 Anonymous from SA, TX said:
Neat, an Iron Creek post,

Pretty, wild and desolate. Went to this in late March '95. Nobody around; I advise against going alone unless you and your car are FIT. The altitudes on the way from I-25 can interfere with your air mixture on older cars. While there & at night my dog went CRAZY and woke me up. The next day I took a picture of the campsite with a film camera and when I developed it there were bands of red, orange and yellow light coming down from the trees in the picture! NICE. Best to stop next time and do lunch. This is prmitive camping - be prepared.

On Tue May 20 10:16:51 2008 Bob Liechti from Las Cruces, NM said:
My wife and I have been camping in this area more than once and found it to be quiet and refreshing from the hussle and bussle of city life. We have two dogs and their attitude and reaction to the area have never been that of previous campers. I have hiked the area with the one dog and never experienced an uncomfortable feeling. We see birds, squirrels and deer in the area. It is true that the area is primitive but that is what makes it an ideal spot for camping.

On Wed Jun 4 06:57:34 2008 WildCat from Somewhere said:
My family and I were on our way to a campground up in northern New Mexico traveling north through I-25. It got late so we decided to camp over the night at Iron Creek. The map shows this campground just off of I-25, however, much to our surprise the campground was not as close to I-25 as we thought. After passing through Hillsboro we thought we had missed it, but at that point, we were commited, since the narrow two-way winding road gave us no place to turn our 5th wheel around. We climbed the mountain to the peak and down on this winding road but no campsite came about. Finally, after almost losing hope, in the dark, we found the campsite. The campsite only had a few places where you could park the 5th-wheel, but the one thing I can remember the next morning was a lot of flying insects. The time of year was in August of 2007, so I do not recommend going during the hot summer months because of the insects.

Do not go through I-25 via Hillsboro if you are pulling a trailer or driving an RV. Rather, go via Silver City.

On Fri Nov 28 03:56:22 2008 Stan from California said:
Went here in November for Thanksgiving, 2008. Very clean, little trash in the woods during hike, but picked it up. Lots of the pic-nic tables and fire grates were fixed. Towed my 33 foot RV up here via Silver City. When entering the campground, you turn right and you have plenty of room to turn your rig around at the end. Only one or two slots big enough for sizeable rigs. If this place is full, try Upper Gelinas as it is about the only one big enough to accomodate the larger rigs. I would no go past Iron Creek heading to Hillsboro, too twisty and you are liable to throw your stuff around inside your rig.

Gets pretty cold up here during the night and rain is always possible. The creek is nice to listen to. Well worth the trip.

On Sun Oct 21 18:57 2009, anonymous from somewhere said:
wonderful place except for night creatures

I camped here in late april 2006. Had it all to myself. Very quiet. The first night I was dropping off to sleep in my tent when I heard snuffling just outside. Looking out from under the flap I saw dozens of large shadows with heads low to the ground judging from eyes reflecting my LED flashlight beam. I concluded that it was a pack of wild hogs and maintained a wary vigil until they moved off into the forest. The other nights were totally peaceful. It was a cool relief after days spent down along the Gila River in the desert heat. I will be back.

On Mon Apr 12 04:37:40 2010 Anonymous from San Antonio, TX said:
Really, don't let me spook anyone, I love ghost stories, but... Supernatural? There is a bit of paranormal flair there. I.C. can give you what you seek: quiet/relaxation, nature, and for the over-imaginative, whatever visions you can dream up. It gets complicated too because your camera might see it as well. Always this blueish aura. I was the earlier post with the dog and strange photos from 1995. Went back in 2008, got two ghost photos at one site there, and one more phenomenal picture nearby - a photo I would call a serious freak of the shutter. Not many were taken really, a few dozen for scenery, yet 3 more ghost pics, this time with a digital camera, and 13 years later! Maybe it's the cool feeling of being kind of far from towns, but you could presume to be "watched." In fact, the person I brought the second time was soon infatuted with all of it. Conversations of Sasquatch, aliens, ghosts and even the rather "religious" array of colorful things in one 2008 photo were at the center of the vacation. You should google GILA FOREST APPARITION. I don't know what to make of the "religious spot" nearby to Iron Creek - I can simply tell you it can be felt. Whatever it is it seems neutral. The campsites do get some nightly visits from animals though (I'd hope you are a clean camper). The creek sometimes sounds like people talking. The acoustics of the pine-needle forest floor make for certain audio effect. And when there is snow on the ground? Wow!

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