Between Pine and Payson is a small valley, which is the site of the Tonto Natural Bridge. This bridge, which was discovered back in 1877 and is now one of Arizona’s most well-known natural landmarks, is thought to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.
The Tonto Natural Bridge stands 183 feet above a 400-foot long tunnel, and the park around it allows visitors the chance to stand on top of the bridge and look down into the valley below, or hike down into the valley in order to look back up at the bridge and really take in the wonder of it.
In order to give visitors the chance to head down into the areas below the bridge, the park provides four trails for guests to use. These trails can be tough, so the park recommends wearing hiking shoes and not bringing pets or glass containers:
- There’s the Pine Creek Trail, which is about half a mile long and leads into the Pine Creek natural area. As long as guests follow the arrows, the trail should be easy enough to follow.
- There’s also the Waterfall Trail, which is around 300 feet long and ends at a waterfall cave, but does have uneven steps to deal with.
- Also, there’s the Gowan Trail, which is roughly half a mile long and leads to an observation deck in the creek bottom. This trail can be steep, though, so visitors should be careful with this one.
- Finally, the Anna Mae Trail is about 400 feet long and leads to both the Pine Creek Trail and the bridge itself.
In addition to these trails and the sights they offer to guests, the park also provides a few other services for the enjoyment of tourists and visitors. There are picnic tables scattered around the park grounds, as well as a few group-use areas containing a large gathering area, a barbecue and electricity, and a shaded ramada with picnic tables for guests to sit and relax at.
Some visitors may just want to enjoy nature and the area around the bridge itself. For these guests, the park also allows swimming in the nearby Pine Creek and doesn’t hesitate to inform people about the various kinds of birds and other wildlife that can be seen around the park. They even provide a list of birds within the park for anyone interested specifically in birdwatching.
The park is open Thursdays through Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. So, if you’re in the area and want to see one of Arizona’s great natural landmarks, the Tonto Natural Bridge is definitely worth a look.