Tonto Natural Bridge is the largest travertine bridge…. IN THE WORLD!
From the top of the bridge there is a nice hiking path that you can follow down to under the bridge. The bridge is 183 feet tall so there is a bit of elevation loss (then gain) to get down there.
Under the bridge. At the widest point it is 150 feet wide.
Looking back under the bridge. Scientists believe that initially the bridge would have been around 1000 feet long. Constant erosion has reduce it to its current length of 400 feet long (tourist in red shirt for scale).
Scientist also believe that the bridge was initially more like a natural dam across the valley. Over many years, water from the stream worked its way through the dam and eroded out the natural bridge. I personally suspect overly ambitious Mole men created it…. We may never know who is right?
The reason the bridge has eroded from 1000 feet long to today’s length of 400 is because there is a stream on top of the bridge that falls over one of the entrances to the bridge. The flow of water from the stream is eating away at the bridge. It is very difficult to make out in this photo but if you look carefully you can see the water fall in the middle of the picture.
View of the waterfall from the top. You can see how the vegetation is concentrated around where the stream is.
Traditional Summit Selfie.
Near the bridge is another small waterfall with a cool walkway built into the side. In the middle of the hot desert this was incredibly refreshing!
On top of the bridge they have a nice picnic area with some cool surroundings. I didn’t plan on visiting this site but just stumbled upon it. Just as a heads up, if you do decide to visit the Tonto Natural Bridge, they charge you $5 USD for the privilege.