Tweet [Update: Feb 2009, Its rumored this park may close due to budget cuts. Thats a shame because its definitely not one of AZ’s worst or least visited parks. So check ahead] The Tonto Natural Bridge is reported to be the world’s largest natural bridge. It is plenty big and all rock so I’ll take […]" />

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Tonto Natural Bridge



[Update: Feb 2009, Its rumored this park may close due to budget cuts. Thats a shame because its definitely not one of AZ’s worst or least visited parks. So check ahead]

The Tonto Natural Bridge is reported to be the world’s largest natural bridge. It is plenty big and all rock so I’ll take their word its #1.

This is a state park and given Mother Nature did its engineering in a rather non-accessible spot, the state folks seem to have tried their best to make the place accessible. But unlike Kartchner Caverns State Park, wheelers don’t get the same experience as our bi-podded amigos.

The drive to the bridge is very scenic. Highway 87 north of Payson takes you from junipers to tall pine trees as you climb towards the Mogollon Rim. Half way to the town of Pine, you’ll see the park exit. The road then takes a steep plunge down from 6000 feet to 4500 feet elevation.

The park itself has a big grassy area with plenty of access-parking. It costs $3 per person to get in, but here’s the catch. The coolest part of the bridge is at the bottom where the creek runs. To get there you need to traverse a ½ mile dirt path that is beyond steep and includes numerous steps. I can see a really neat wooden bridge down there, but forget it, it’s a non-accessible trail.

Up top there is 4 view points on paved walkways you can get a good view of how the flow of water formed the bridge. None of the view points offered complete independent access. It’s just too steep of terrain but with my trusty friend, Karla we made it to all four points. It’s a pretty impressive bridge or hole in the earth depending on how you see it.

With a little work, they could make the four view points more accessible. For example, all the photos are from my legged friend because the safety rail is too hi and the steel mesh too dense. A few cut outs in the railing so we shorties could stick a camera through would be helpful.

If you go, plan on a 1-2 hour stay. Your friends will get more out of this one than you, but its beautiful country, and worth the admission.


Flickr photo borrowed from “Styggiti”


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Accessing Arizona is primarily designed for people who are looking for wheelchair accessible events, locations and activities. If you have paralysis (paraplegic or quadriplegic), Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, or if you are an amputee, Accessing Arizona has information about an active lifestyle.
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