When Lara was here in the 2011-2012 school year, we took her from coast-to-coast….from Washington DC and New York City….to California and a Baja Mexico cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. But we didn’t show her many natural wonders right here in the state of Arizona. So, on Independence Day/4th of July, we traveled to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park near Payson.
The Tonto Natural Bridge is about a 90 minute drive from our home. Our goal was to drive up for the day and be back by about 7pm to see the fireworks here in the Valley. The State Park is surrounded by a forest of pine trees and the bridge is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. It stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point.
We hiked down a short trail to start and then down the main trail to see the geological wonder in it’s glory. It was discovered 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 inside the bridge. In 1898 he persuaded his nephew, David Gowan Goodfellow, to bring his family over from Scotland and settle the land permanently. To learn how the bridge formed, check out http://azstateparks.com/Parks/TONA/feature.html.
Once we hiked to the bottom, which was a pretty steep hike down…. we walked over a bridge, under a slight waterfall and over large boulders. The moisture in the bridge makes the rocks very slippery to walk on. Me, Terry and Travis stayed on the one side while Lara and Brittany went exploring to the other side. Then we just sat in awe and used the backdrop for some beautiful photos.
Afterwards, the hike back up to the car was a good workout. A mile trail all uphill, some areas with natural stairs or stairs made of railroad ties and other areas just dirt trails. We were all huffing and puffing a little…. and we all exercise! I can;t imagine if we were out of shape!
As always… enjoy the photos! An upcoming post covers another natural wonder… our trip to the Grand Canyon!