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Explore / nature / high country

Tonto Natural Bridge

World's Largest Travertine Bridge

2 Cool Lizards travel guide

Tonto Natural Bridge, located in Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, is the world's largest natural travertine bridge. Water has eroded a passage through the travertine wall, creating a natural bridge. Located near Payson, Arizona.

Tonto Natural Bridge Arizona

Tonto Natural Travertine Bridge
Tonto Natural Bridge, located in Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, is the world's largest natural travertine bridge. The travertine bridge was created over time by a combination of precipitation, limestone, calcium carbonate and the water power of Pine Creek. Precipitation found its way underground through cracks and weak areas in the rock. This formed limestone aquifers. Calcium carbonate, carried by springs that originated in the aquifers, was deposited above ground. These deposits created the wall of travertine. With the passage of time, Pine Creek wore its way through the travertine and formed the bridge.Tonto Natural Bridge measures 400 feet long and 150 feet wide (at widest point). The highest point of the arch is 183 feet above Pine Creek. 1

Visit for more information on the formation of Tonto Natural Bridge.

Trails include rocky areas, steep steps and wood walkways. There are three trails leading from the parking area to various points around the bridge. Gowan trail, leading to the creek and bridge, is about 1/4 mile long and is steep and rocky in areas. Railings provide support for ascending and descending steeper areas. The hike is well worth the effort; the bridge and creekbed provide spectacular scenery. Wear good hiking shoes or boots if you plan to use the trails.

I do not recommend hiking in the hotter months. As in all Arizona travel, bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Tonto Natural Bridge is a favorite among tourists, so plan to get to the area early. Holiday weekends are especially busy. A steep set of steps is part of the path down to the bridge. Overlooks provide good views for those not able to make take the many steps.

Tonto Natural Travertine Bridge

Wildlife abounds near the bridge due to Pine Creek and a natural spring. Watch for frogs, javelinas, elk, various birds and other riparian wildlife. Moss on the rocks that lie near the bridge provide a vivid green contrast to the deep blue sky of Arizona. Caution: the rocks can be quite slippery.

1. Tonto

Fabulous Reviews Of Nearby Places:
Pine and Strawberry
Lava River Cave
Mogollon Rim
Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings
Shoofly Ruins

Tonto Natural Bridge
Tonto Natural Bridge
Tonto Natural Bridge
Tonto Natural Bridge
Tonto Natural Bridge
Mossy Rocks


Take highway 87 north from the Phoenix area and continue north of Payson on 87/260. About 10 miles north of Payson, take FR 583 (forest service road 583) west from 87/260. FR 583 runs into FR 583A. Continue to the left on FR 583 A into the parking lot. The hike down to the bridge can be achieved by various trails.

USDA site: Tonto National Forest Make reservations for national park recreation activities. Arizona State Parks: Tonto Natural Bridge. Maps and information on the park.

accessible travel

accessible trail Tonto Natural Bridge
There are 4 observations points, 3 of which are wheelchair accessible. The photo on the left was taken at the bottom of the trail that leads down to the water. That trail is not accessible. The 3 accessible trails provide very nice views from the top.

Visit accessible travel for more information.

travel with children

Tonto Natural Bridge child hike
Trails can be steep and slippery, so keep a good watch over little ones. The trails and water provide an abundance of wildlife for children to see. Seeing a bridge created by nature is an educational experience. The river area below the bridge offers a cool, fun place to explore.

Visit travel with children for more information.

travel with pets

Leashed pets are allowed on trails. Trails can be slippery and steep; consider this when deciding whether to include your pet.

NEVER leave a pet unattended in a vehicle; temperatures can be extreme in Arizona. ALWAYS clean up after your pet.

Visit travel with pets for more information.

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