Yep, on first sight, I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. I had been told the Tonto Bridge was worth a visit, but I wasn't quite prepared for the enormity of it. The bridge is said to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. It measures 183 feet high and 150 feet wide. The depth of the bridge makes a tunnel that's more than 400 feet deep.
There are four overviews above the bridge (at parking lot level) where you get great views of the bridge without walking down to the floor. From Overviews 1 and 2 and from the Waterfall Trail, you get great views of the travertine growth and the porous walls and stalactites that are slowly being formed on the inside walls of the bridge.
I had read both sides of whether the trail could be done by those who were afraid of heights. Some say it's treacherous, others say it's easy. When you sign in at the Gift Shop, you're warned that the Gowan Trail, the ones that leads down, down, down to the bridge's opening, is strenuous and difficult.
So, here's the scoop in my opinion: If you're afraid of heights (as I am), there will be no difficulty. There are no areas where you feel like you're going to drop off the side. It's a relatively short trail (1/2 mile), and the first half is a wide trail floor of wood chips that's a very gradual descent. The second half of the trail is steeper, and it's packed dirt with intermittent steps. The trail winds but without dropoffs. The reason it's considered difficult is because it's steep, so coming up will truly get your heart pumping. Take water. There's a picture of the trail below.
Tonto Natural Bridge is located between Pine and Payson, Arizona, on Highway 89. If you prefer to camp, the Houston Mesa Campground is the closest campground (perhaps 10 miles or less) and is perfect for tenting or dry RV-ing. It's just on the outskirts (north side) of Payson.
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