Looking to get out of the sweltering Valley, but money and time are short. Think about soaking up the cooler weather just 2 hours north of Phoenix at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.
Located just outside of Payson, Arizona, the Tonto Natural Bridge boasts an elevation of 4,530 feet, so the weather is around 15 – 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix. The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. The park provides habitat for animals, insects, and birds as well as interpretive exhibits, which include artifacts from the area’s history.
In the park, you’ll also find challenging but scenic hiking trails, which lead to a waterfall, a creek, or the natural bridge. Take plenty of water. During summer, the area can get up to 91 degrees Fahrenheit during the afternoon. Don’t worry, summer temperatures fall to the mid-60’s at night. For more information on temperatures in the area, click here.
Where and How Much?
The Tonto Natural Bridge is located within the Mogollon Plateau area, northwest of Payson. Specific directions are here.
The park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last entry at 4 p.m. The Tonto Natural Bridge Park is open all-year-round, only closing on Christmas Day, December 25.
Park fees for entrance are $7 for adults, $4 for ages 7 – 13, and children up to age 6 are free.
There are parking areas located at the beginning of each of the 5 hiking trails. There’s no extra charge for parking. Check out this map for details.
Other Area Attractions
The Goodfellow Lodge, built in the 1920’s, is a 3-story cabin style lodge available for rent. With 10 furnished bedrooms and spacious living and dining areas, make it a vacation party for friends and family.
The quaint town of Payson and sightseeing along the Mogollon Rim is also to enjoy in the area. Even further up in elevation, 10 – 15 miles away are the towns of Pine and Strawberry, which offer 5,400 to 6,000 feet elevation. Higher means cooler weather. Not too far from the Valley and breathable air. Click here for area details.
My apologies to readers if there was any confusion. This post came up on the site and in the newsletter Thursday morning, August 17, before it was completed.