Sonoran Audubon Society

SAS Field Trip – Tonto Natural Bridge

September 12, 2017 @ 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Tonto Natural Bridge
Pine, AZ 85544
Dan Bohlmann
(602) 938-8244

If you have not visited this State Park you have missed seeing a gorgeous and unusual site.  It is really more like a 300 foot high tunnel with a creek running through it. When you drive into the park you are in the forest at around 6000ft elevation and you drop 1000ft into a canyon and below you see what use to be a hotel which is now the Visitor Center. There are grassland meadows and parking lots around the building extending a long ways to the south and cottonwood trees around the meadows and parking lots since you are at a lower elevation. You have no clue that there is a natural bridge anywhere around. You get out of your car and follow signs directing you and suddenly you find yourself at the edge of an abyss and you are in awe of what you see. Before you appears a gaping cave in a cliff 300 feet high with water dripping from springs in the cave roof and big pools of water at the bottom surrounded by house size boulders. The cave is actually a 500 foot long tunnel that Pine Creek flows through and you can hike through it during low water times risking life and limb by stepping on wet boulders. The cave face is covered in travertine and nests of swallows and swifts who are always flying in and out. There is also a trail that goes around the tunnel and one that drops by stairs down to the creek. That trail is usually the source of many bird sightings since it is thick with many types of trees filled with birds that are waiting for their turn to come to the spring that flows down the canyon wall here and produces a wall covered with lush ferns, mosses and water loving plants. This location is one of the best places to see a great variety of birds because of the great variety of habitats and the vital ingredient, water and lots of it!

The road into the park is paved so there are no restrictions on type of vehicle. We will probably leave the park around 2:00 PM and be back in Phoenix around 4:00PM. Bring a lunch since nice picnic tables are available. We will be meeting at the Fry’s Electronics Store at 31st Ave and Thunderbird, N.E. Corner of parking lot near 30th Ave and T-bird (under the trees).  Meeting time here is 7:00am and at 2nd meeting spot at 7:30am at the McDonald’s near I17 and Carefree Highway N.E. Corner in Shopping Center.

Dan Bohlmann, Leader   (602) 938-8244

Let me know if you can drive.

There is an entrance fee of $5 to $7, It may have gone up since last visit. Difficulty rate of 2, since we walk to different viewpoints.