Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Hours & Days
The park is open 7 days a week from 8 am - 6 pm. Last entry at 5 pm. Summer hours are May 24 until Sept. 1.
August 2: Settlers of the Natural Bridge
11 am - 12:15 pm. A member of the Northern Gila County Historical Society will present a PowerPoint about the Settlers of the Natural Bridge in the Tonto Lodge dining room. The presentation will include information about the first people who settled in the area of Tonto Natural Bridge, including David Douglas Gowan and his nephew, David Gowan Goodfellow. Several items belonging to the Goodfellows (including the trunk that came over from Scotland in 1893) will also be on display.
Due to the limited space please register in advance; you can make your reservation by emailing gerickson(at)azstateparks.gov or calling (928) 476-4202. Any non-reserved spots will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis at the event. Maximum attendance is 50 people. This presentation is included with day use admission of $5 per person 14 years and older, $2 per person youth 7-13, and 6 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.
August 16: Exotic Bird Show
1 - 3 pm. Curt Scarberry and AZ Exotic Bird Rescue will host an exotic bird show at Tonto Natural Bridge. The group will bring a selection of exotic birds from their rescue to the park for the public to see. Learn about these amazing birds including Macaws, Cockatoos, Conures, and Parrots (birds may vary). Speakers from the rescue will discuss the wonders of these animals, plus bring informative materials. Program is free with regular park entrance fee of $5 per person for everyone aged 14 years and older, $2 per person for everyone 7-13, and no charge for anyone 6 and under. Please call (928) 476-4202 with questions. For more information about AZ Exotic Bird Rescue go to their website a thttp://www.azexoticbirdrescue.org. Additional dates: September 20, October 18.
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.
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 by Tom Brossart for Arizona State Parks.
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.
Time lapse photograph of the night sky as seen through Tonto Natural Bridge. Photo taken August 2013 by Kevin Turner. Note: Staying overnight in the park is not allowed.
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