Tonto Natural Bridge

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Coordinates: 34°19′11″N 111°27′24″W / 34.31972°N 111.45667°W / 34.31972; -111.45667
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Arizona State Park
Tonto Natural Bridge.JPG
Tonto Natural Bridge
Country  United States
State  Arizona
County Gila
Location Payson
 - elevation 4,530 ft (1,381 m)
 - coordinates 34°19′11″N 111°27′24″W / 34.31972°N 111.45667°W / 34.31972; -111.45667
Area 161 acres (65.2 ha)
Founded 1969
Management Arizona State Parks
Location of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park in Arizona

Tonto Natural Bridge is a natural arch in Arizona, USA, that is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The area surrounding the bridge has been made into a state park called Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, which is located off State Route 87, just 10 miles (16 km) north of Payson.[1] Tonto Natural Bridge stands over a 400-foot-long (120 m) tunnel that measures 150 feet (46 m) at its widest point and reaches a height of 183 feet (56 m).

History[edit]

This natural bridge was first documented by David Gowan, a Scotsman, in 1877 while hiding from hostile Apache tribe members.[1][2] Gowan was impressed by the location and persuaded his family to emigrate and live there.[2] Gowan also tried to claim the land for himself under squatter's rights.[1]

Gowan family members lived near the bridge until 1948. Their lodge building survives to this day and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Park facilities[edit]

  • Walking trails
    • Pine Creek Trail - approximately 0.5-mile (0.80 km) long
    • Waterfall Trail - approximately 600-foot (180 m) round trip to waterfall cave.
    • Gowan Trail - approximately 0.5-mile (0.80 km) long, ending at an observation deck in the creek bottom.
  • Picnic tables and recreation area
  • Gift shop
  • Portable restrooms

Closure[edit]

It was announced in early 2010 that the park was scheduled to close on June 3, 2010 because of budget cuts and to allow for repairs to the historic lodge.[3][4] Since that time, three groups have donated funds to allow the park to stay open until the end of September 2011.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Arizona State Parks. "Tonto Natural Bridge State Park". 
  2. ^ a b Crossley, John. "Tonto Natural Bridge State Park". AmericanSouthwest.net. 
  3. ^ Coates, Bill (February 27, 2009). "State park closures will turn away visitors and their money". Arizona Capitol Times. 
  4. ^ Arizona State Parks (2009-02-24). "Arizona State Parks Board Temporarily Closes Two State Parks" (Press release). 
  5. ^ Arizona State Parks (2010-08-06). "Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Again Rescued By Rim Country Residents" (Press release).