Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Hike under the world’s largest natural travertine bridge near Payson.

Thousands of years ago, volcanic lava and seawater formed a travertine dam in a canyon north of present-day Payson. As the dam eroded and water seeped through, Tonto Natural Bridge was formed. At 150 feet wide, this natural wonder arches over Pine Creek and a narrow canyon brimming with native plants and wildlife. High elevations, cool breezes and the smell of pine trees make this remote site even more exhilarating. Start at the visitor center located inside the historic Goodfellow Lodge, then set off to explore the geologic formations of the park.

Hike It

To walk through the 400-foot tunnel that runs through the center of the natural bridge, a hike is required. Descend into Pine Canyon on any of the trails that lead to viewpoints of this geologic miracle. All trails are steep and strenuous, but also short and well maintained with stairsteps and railings built in to navigate the tougher stretches. Pine Creek Trail is the longest of the trails at half a mile and ends at the banks of Pine Creek. Gowan Trail is slightly shorter and leads to an observation deck, while the Waterfall Trail is only 300 feet and leads to a grotto overlooking the bridge.

Drive It

Visitors do not need to hike into the canyon to enjoy this natural spectacle. During a quick visit, snap photos from the four observation points located at parking lots along the main park road. In addition to amazing views of the natural bridge, visitors get a colorful history lesson at the historic lodge built by David Gowan Goodfellow, the nephew of the Scottish prospector who discovered the bridge while searching for gold in the area. Visitors can tour the historic Goodfellow Lodge, located on a grassy meadow above the bridge.

Visit Payson & Pine-Strawberry

Located just two hours north of the Phoenix area, the communities of the Mogollon Rim provide cool Arizona road trips during the summer months and seasonal fun year-round. Visitors can turn daytrips into overnighters at Payson-area hotels, vacation rentals and campsites located just south of the bridge. From Pine-Strawberry to the north, discover another hidden-gem hike at Fossil Creek that leads to a spectacular natural playground. While in Strawberry, make a pitstop at PIEbar for sweet and savory empanadas — handheld provisions for road trips through Arizona’s rim country.

For More Information

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
PO Box 1245
Payson, AZ 85547
(928) 476-4202

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