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 www.pr.state.az.us 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.