Happy Tuesday everyone! Thanks to the 50+ degree temperature drop compliments of a quick work trip to Wyoming, I’m remembering all over again why I chose to live in Arizona. This is by far the best time of year in my part of the desert (Super Bowl weekend aside – that was a total fluke!), and I’ve been so inspired lately to get outside and explore! I found Tonto Natural Bridge State Park – quite by happy accident – not long after I moved to Arizona and was blown away by how cool this place is! It’s still one of my favorite places to visit in the state.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is located just north of Payson, Arizona. It’s believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The bridge stands over a 400 foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest points and reaches a height of 183 feet.
The natural bridge was first documented by David Gowan, a prospector, in 1877 while hiding from hostile Apache tribe members. The Gowan family lived near the bridge until 1948; the lodge building survives to this day and currently serves as a visitor’s center.
The lodge features a great museum area and there are several hikes around the area. The bridge is in a deep valley, so even after the drive down to the visitor’s center, the descent to the bridge is pretty steep. The path, however, is well trod and easy enough if you take your time (and lots of water). You can explore under the bridge area, but swimming is prohibited.
My favorite time to visit is during the week when there aren’t as many people. It’s a great opportunity to explore and take photos without having other people in them (smile). With the water falling over the bridge, it’s such a soothing place to relax and enjoy the views.
The park is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. The entry fees are $5/adult and $2/children.