Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge near Payson AZ
Tonto Natural Bridge. Disclaimer: Stock image photo. 🙂 

As you all know since I have said it about a million times, it’s HOT in Arizona in the summertime and we have been told that this summer has been the hottest summer in Arizona in a long time. The locals say that they put up with three months of hot for nine months of perfect weather. Right now we are heading into August and it’s the last really hot month, as September cools down to the 90s.

To get away from the heat, we checked out the small town of Payson one day which is about an hour away from Phoenix. We thought an hour north east of Phoenix would be cooler and it was, in the mid-90s as opposed to 110. It’s sad that we can tell a difference between 95 and 110 degrees. When we stepped out of the truck in Payson, we were like “yeah, it’s cooler and only 95!”

Stock image from inside the cave 

Brad planned our day and told me we were going to a state park but there wasn’t any hiking or anything. It was just a place to cool off and walk around. I put on a dress and when we got to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, we realized that in fact, we had a bit of hiking to do to see the scenery. Luckily, we keep our hiking boots in the truck so at least we had those, along with hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Inside the cave. Again, not our photo. Stock image. 

The main attraction at this state park is the natural bridge, which is hidden in the surrounding valley and is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. It’s 183 feet tall and has a tunnel over 400 feet long. One can stand on top of the bridge or hike below to climb inside the tunnel. The Pine Creek Trail that leads to the bridge is short but steep. It is surrounded by tall trees and at times is bare and open to the hot sun. We first got to a rocky creek where people were swimming and then we came across a manmade bridge that allowed access to the natural bridge. We were not the only people hiking that day and I did see one other person wearing a dress! LOL!

From the top of the natural bridge, a small waterfall went under the bridge, causing the rocks and boulders to become wet and a bit slippery. We were glad to be wearing our hiking boots, Inside the tunnel was tall and wide and one could see the other side where it opened up again. Once in the tunnel, one got a sense of how tall the natural bridge really is. A handful of people were inside the tunnel, exploring, swimming in the little pond, and taking pictures. Since I was wearing a dress, I wasn’t able to climb into the tunnel, but Brad was able to. He took lots of photos and it wasn’t until later that we realized most of the pictures were blurry. I’d had the camera out the day before and set the lens to manual zoom and forgot to set it back to automatic. Brad didn’t realize is wasn’t on auto zoom, hence the blurry photos. Oops!

The cave. Our one photo. LOL

We checked out the paved hiking trail that went along the top rim of the natural bridge. It was an easy hike and cool to see the waterfall from above. Really hot from the hike—the sun was just baking us—we decided to skip the three other short but steep hiking trails. We realized that though it might be cooler in Payson, 95 is still really hot and might be a bit too hot to be hiking in. We would like to return on a cooler day to check out the other trails and to take some non-blurry photos. LOL.

We will see what other outdoor adventure we encounter in Arizona so stay tuned!
Till then!

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