Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Five Day Schedule: This park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm (with last entry at 4 pm) on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, & Mondays. Read about five day schedule.
Tonto Natural Bridge Wins 3 Awards
Tonta Natural Bridge SP has won three Best of Rim Country awards, including Best Historic Site, Best Place to Hike, and Best Day Trip.
Tonto Natural Bridge 12 News Segment
June 1, 2013: Payson, AZ - Mountain High Games
Note: This event is not at the park, but held at Payson Event Center, for more info visit http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/mountainhighgames.
The Payson Arizona Mountain High Games is the Southwest’s largest celebration of adventure sports combined with ATV trail rides, the Mogollon Monster Mudder – 5k and a massive outdoor expo. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the cool mountain temperatures while competing in or watching this thrilling event.
Professional and amateur athletes from all over the Southwest converge upon the mountain community of Payson to compete in 4 different competitions for cash and prizes. This year’s sporting events include: The Mogollon Monster Mudder (Mud Run), Archery Competition, ATV Trail Rides, and an old fashioned Horseshoe Tournament.
See the natural bridge from 4 parking lot viewpoints or hike down below to experience this geologic wonder. If you look closely at the photo you can see the lower observation deck with people who hiked down to the bottom. Photo courtesy Tom Brossart.
Tucked away in a tiny valley surrounded by a forest of pine trees, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park has been in the making for thousands of years. It is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point.
The discovery of the small and beautiful valley between Pine and Payson was documented in 1877 by David Gowan, a prospector who stumbled across the bridge as he was chased by Apaches. Gowan hid for two nights and three days in one of several caves that dot the inside of the bridge. On the third day, he left the cave to explore the tunnel and green valley surrounding it. Gowan then claimed squatter's rights.
In 1898 he persuaded his nephew, David Gowan Goodfellow, to bring his family over from Scotland and settle the land permanently. After a week of difficult travel from Flagstaff, the Goodfellows arrived at the edge of the mountain and lowered their possessions down the 500 foot slopes into the valley by ropes and burros.
Today, visitors can stand on top of the bridge or hike down below to capture the true size and beauty of this geologic wonder.
How did the Natural Bridge form?
Learn More About Payson & Rim Country
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge