Tonto Natural Bridge
|Tonto Natural Bridge State Park|
Tonto Natural Bridge
|Location||Gila, Arizona, United States|
|Area||161 acres (65 ha)|
|Elevation||4,530 ft (1,380 m)|
|Governing body||Arizona State Parks|
Tonto Natural Bridge is a natural arch in Arizona, United States, 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. 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).
This natural bridge was first documented by David Gowan, a Scotsman, in 1877 while hiding from hostile Apache tribe members. Gowan was impressed by the location and persuaded his family to emigrate and live there. Gowan also tried to claim the land for himself under squatter's rights.
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.
- 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
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. Three groups eventually donated funds to allow the park to stay open until the end of September 2011.
- Arizona State Parks. "Tonto Natural Bridge State Park".
- Crossley, John. "Tonto Natural Bridge State Park". AmericanSouthwest.net.
- Coates, Bill (February 27, 2009). "State park closures will turn away visitors and their money". Arizona Capitol Times.
- Arizona State Parks (2009-02-24). "Arizona State Parks Board Temporarily Closes Two State Parks" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2009-11-23.
- Arizona State Parks (2010-08-06). "Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Again Rescued By Rim Country Residents" (Press release).
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