What You Should Know Before Visiting Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Tonto Natural Bridge

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. If you’re passing through the area, it’s well worth just pulling over to marvel at this incredible natural wonder in Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. However, if you have the time, we highly recommend spending at least a day enjoying everything that Tonto Natural Bridge State Park has to offer.

Have we piqued your interest yet? Keep reading! This article will tell you everything you need to know about what Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is known for, the area’s must-see spots, hiking trails, park and camping information, and nearby lodging options.

Tonto Natural Bridge

1. What is Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Known For?

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a popular destination for cross-country tourists and Arizona locals alike. Whether you come once or dozens of times, you will always find yourself marveling at the beauty of this park. All walks of life can agree that the views of the Tonto Natural Bridge, bustling wildlife, unique swimming opportunities, and scenic hiking trails available here are nearly impossible to beat.

The Tonto Natural Bridge

If Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is known for anything, it’s known for its namesake: the Tonto Natural Bridge. This natural rock formation is believed to be the largest travertine natural bridge formation in the entire world. The bridge was formed over millions of years. Today, it runs 150 feet wide and towers roughly 183 feet over Pine Creek and hundreds of luscious pine trees.

This awe-striking landmark was first recorded back in 1877 when a Scottish man named David Gowan was hunting for gold in the area and stumbled across the natural bridge. However, many American Indian tribes had called this area home for several decades. You can learn all about David Gowan and the American Indian tribes from this area at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Visitor Center or by asking a Park Ranger!

Tonto Natural Bridge

Wildlife Viewing

In addition to coming to see the Tonto Natural Bridge, visitors also come to check out the incredible wildlife found in this area of Arizona. There are many different bird species you can spot within the park. Feel free to inquire at the Visitor Center or entrance station about the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Bird List. Don’t forget those binoculars! 


There are a number of marked trails within Tonto Natural Bridge State Park that will lead you to beautiful lookouts where you can snap close-up pictures or simply just bask in the glory of the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. Learn more by checking out the available Tonto Natural Bridge State Park maps!


While swimming is not permitted underneath the actual Tonto Natural Bridge, visitors are more than welcome to take a dip downstream from the landmark in the beautiful waters of Pine Creek. There’s no better way to celebrate a long hike down in the Arizona sun than rewarding yourself with a cool down! However, please keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on duty at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Swimming is always at your own risk.

2. Top Spots to See at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

It would be a mistake to visit Tonto Natural Bridge State Park without making sure you get to the best viewpoints of the Tonto Natural Bridge and stop by the Goodfellow Historic Lodge’s museum exhibits. Trust us, both of these are essential to completing your day at this state park.

Tonto Natural Bridge Viewpoints

There are several fantastic viewpoints overlooking the glory of the Tonto Natural Bridge inside of the park. For starters, there are four different parking lot viewpoints that on-the-go tourists can swing by without needing to hike anywhere. From these paved paths, you will be able to view the immense size and scale of this natural bridge, while having the opportunity to appreciate unbeatable views of Arizona’s infamous rim country at the same time. For those who have the time to hike down into the canyon, even more, magnificent viewpoints of the Tonto Natural Bridge await on the Pine Creek Trail, Waterfall Trail, Gowan Trail, and Anna Mae Trail. There’s nothing quite like seeing this massive rock bridge from below!

Tonto Natural Bridge

Goodfellow Historic Lodge’s Tonto Natural Bridge Museum Exhibits

You can’t fully appreciate the grandeur of this part of Arizona without stopping by the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park Museum and checking out the educational exhibits that are located inside. You can find this Museum inside of the Goodfellow Historic Lodge. Here, you’ll have a chance to look at artifacts and learn about the history and unique importance of the Tonto Natural Bridge as well as travertine rock formations, American Indians, and the historic Goodfellow Lodge itself. If you want to take it a step further, book a reservation to sleep inside of the lodge for a night or two. Talk about getting the full experience!

3. Hiking and Trails Information

There are four main hiking trails within Tonto National Bridge State Park:

  • Pine Creek Trail – Roughly half a mile long. This trail leads hikers right to the Pine Creek natural area, where you can swim and enjoy unique views downstream of the Tonto Natural Bridge. 
  • Waterfall Trail – Roughly 300 feet long. This quick and easy trail takes you down uneven steps to a waterfall cave. 
  • Gowan Trail – Roughly 2,200 feet long down-and-back. This steep hike will lead you down into the canyon and across a small footbridge to an observation deck. This observation deck in the creek bottom offers a very special view of the state park that you can’t get anywhere else!
  • Anna Mae Trail – Roughly 500 feet long. This is a hike that leads you to the Pine Creek Trail. Keep following this trail to head straight for the Tonto Natural Bridge. 

There are no trash cans on the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park trails. Therefore, please pack-in and pack-out everything you bring with you. As always, remember to carry drinking water while hiking these trails. No pets are allowed.

Tonto Natural Bridge

4. Park and Camping Information

Park and Facility Hours

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The last entry is at 4:00 pm. All trails close at 4:00 pm as well.

Park Entrance Fee

  • Adult (14+): $7.00
  • Youth (7–13): $4.00
  • Child (0–6): Free 

Visitor Center/Park Store

The Tonto Natural Bridge Visitor Center is located inside of the Goodfellow Historic Lodge. Here, you can find park information, Park Rangers, and a gift shop with a large variety of books, snacks, water, soda, walking sticks, and clothing items. 

Picnic Areas

There are a good number of unsheltered picnic tables throughout Tonto Natural Bridge State Park for visitors to use as needed. There are also four ramada shelters on park grounds that can be reserved in advance for large groups. Contact the park office for more information. If these ramadas are not reserved, they are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

5. Where to Stay Near Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Goodfellow Historic Lodge

If you’re looking to stay overnight near Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, it would be a great mistake to choose anywhere other than the Goodfellow Historic Lodge. This lodge was built in 1927 and offers 10 bedrooms with communal restrooms, a communal kitchen, and a large open lawn area with grills. You’ll also be delighted to find that the Goodfellow Historic Lodge offers a Lodge Dining Room with rustic wood and a family-style dining environment with bench-style seating. To inquire or reserve, please call the park at +1 (928) 476-4202.

Payson, Arizona

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is also only a short drive from the small, beautiful mountain town of Payson, Arizona. This is a very popular tourist destination within Arizona’s rim country and offers a number of lodging accommodations, restaurants, and fun activities to choose from.

No matter where you stay, what matters is that you enjoy the full glory of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park while you’re there! Spend the morning educating yourself at the museum, enjoy a lunch at the Goodfellow Historic Lodge dining room, and then head out to swim in Pine Creek while taking in the incredible view of the bridge in the late afternoon. You can thank us later!