Bridge of Travertine

Arizona is a land of many beautiful vistas, and some remarkable natural features as well, including the world’s largest natural travertine bridge, located at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, northeast of Phoenix.

Travertine natural bridge, Tonto State Park, Arizona

From above, the natural bridge arch forms the ceiling of a massive limestone tunnel.

Travertine, formed by rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate and solidified almost to the hardness of marble, surrounds the entry to a huge tunnel, almost 200 feet high and 400 feet long.  Water flowing over the boulders of travertine at the tunnel entrance makes it especially slippery and hazardous for all the hikers that visit this natural wonder.

Travertine natural bridge, Tonto State Park, Arizona

Travertine natural bridge, Tonto State Park, Arizona

View from the inside of the travertine tunnel looking out

Travertine natural bridge, Tonto State Park, Arizona

Life exists only at the mouth of the tunnel. It’s dark and sterile inside the high arch.

Travertine natural bridge, Tonto State Park, Arizona

Caves along the side walls of the limestone canyon near the arch make good refuges, and were probably used by early inhabitants here.

The natural bridge was discovered by a Scotsman (David Gowan) in 1877, as he hid from the Apache Indians tracking him.  He was so impressed with the area that he moved his family here from Scotland and tried to claim the land by squatters’ rights.  They lived near the arch until 1948.

Happy hikers

The happy hikers….

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