Gila River Preserve--Iron Bridge Conservation Area

About this Location

The Iron Bridge Conservation Area is one of the most-visited portions of The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Gila River Preserve because it is a mere 30 minutes from town and because the old highway two-track next to the river is an easy place to walk. This property was purchased in 2007 by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and TNC. The river corridor has been transformed during the past 9 years; without year-round grazing cottonwoods and willows have had a chance to establish and grow. Consequently, there are diverse bird habitats. Southwestern Willow Flycatchers have even begun to nest on the site.

This September a Youth Conservation Corps crew sponsored by the Wellness Coalition built a foot trail to enable people to better explore the property without getting lost in weeds. The trail is on the east side of the river and heads south paralleling the river. The path is a short loop (approximately 0.5 miles) with a spur (0.25 miles) that leads to the river at the downstream end of this property. Habitat along the trail includes riparian vegetation and grasslands on the floodplain terraces. The trail will be maintained by hikers and birders. Please visit and use the trail frequently!

The Iron Bridge Tract is located approximately 22 miles northwest of Silver City (between mile markers 86 and 87, downstream of where US-180 crosses the Gila River. Parking is located on both the east side of the river next to a green ranch gate that can be seen from US-180 and on the west side of the river off of Iron Bridge road. From either side, you can walk along the old highway roadbed that leads to the Iron Bridge.

About Gila River Preserve (TNC)

See all hotspots at Gila River Preserve (TNC)

The Gila River Preserve protects more than 1,200 acres of the southwest's fragile riparian habitat and the verdant gallery woodland among the Gila River, the last of the southwest's major free-flowing rivers.

In 2009, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) added 40 acres of important riverside habitat to the Gila River Preserve. The new stretch inserts an important piece to this project area, which includes the preserve and more than 250,000 acres collaboratively managed by TNC, local landowners, federal and state agencies, and local organizations.

TNC's long-term vision for the preserve is simple: let the river rediscover its natural floodplain and enable new cottonwoods and willows to spring up, providing habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds, especially the southwest willow flycatcher, a species whose population is in trouble. A host of other rare animal species also use the preserve's habitats.

Notable Trails

Iron Bridge Trail: This 1.5-mile loop trail, with an out-and-back section to the river, is a footpath on the mostly flat floodplain of the Gila River.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Entrance fee

Content from Iron Bridge Conservation Area (Southwest New Mexico Audubon) information page and Gila River Preserve (TNC) Official Website

Last updated August 16, 2023