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Tonto Natural Bridge
Located inside a tiny mountain valley at the base of Arizona's Rim Country lies one of Arizona's most unique natural treasures — a travertine limestone bridge hundreds of feet long. The springs that deposited the limestone — and later cut the bridge — are still flowing.

Location: At an elevation of about 4500 feet, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is located on Pine Creek in Central Arizona approx. 10-15 miles Northwest of Payson just off of Highway 87. Distance from Mesa/Phoenix is about 90 minutes to 2 hours. Caution: The entrance road is steep and has a 14% grade. (It used to be 32%)

The Natural Bridge spans Pine Creek. The span is 400 ft. long, 183 ft. high, and 150 ft. wide. It is made up of travertine (limestone) and is believed to be the largest natural bridge in the world.

Trails: The three trails open to the public are:

The Gowan Loop Trail: About 1/2 mile long. It leads to an observation deck at the bottom of the Canyon.

Pinecreek Trail: about 1/2 mile long.

Waterfall Trail: 300-400 ft. long ending at waterfall cave.

All three trails descend into Pine Creek Canyon and are rather steep. It is advisable to bring drinking water.

History: There are two stories about finding the bridge. According to the first story, troops from General Crook's command first saw the bridge while watering their horses in Pine Creek. The second story indicates that it was found by Davy Gowan, a prospector who was being chased by Apaches in the late 1870s. He hid in the caves for 2-3 days while the Apaches were looking for him. He later filed a claim and built a cabin, and eventually turned it over to the Goodfellow family from Scotland. This family built a home and tourist cabins to promote the area.

The Natural Bridge is impressive to see, but caution should be exercised while driving in the area, especially in wet or snowy weather. Due to the steep switchbacks on the road, it is not advisable to drive down the road in inclement weather. Also, elk are common, and care should be taken not to hit them.


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