October is a gorgeous time of year for motorcycle riding in Arizona. The temperatures are a bit cooler and the monsoons are over, leaving a clear blue sky that I describe as "Arizona blue".
We left home about 10:30 am, headed for the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park between Pine and Payson on Arizona 260. We've ridden this way several times, but never had the opportunity to stop.
Mike rode here with friends a couple of weeks ago, and raved about the hike, so we packed a lunch and headed northeast.
After riding through Pine, we turned off the highway on the 3-mile paved road that leads to the park entrance. The road curves and winds steeply down a 14% grade to the bottom of the gorge and the entrance to the state park.
The Tonto natural bridge is the largest travertine bridge in the world, rising 183' over a 400' long tunnel that measures 150' at its widest point. Travertine is a type of dissolved limestone formed from the evaporation of spring water that's high in calcium carbonate.
Native Americans farmed the fertile land in the valley near the bridge, and made homes in the caves in the area. David Douglas Gowan was the first Caucasian to see this area, and moved here with his family in the late 1870's.
We hiked down a steep, rough path that led to a wooden walkway across Pine Creek that flows under the natural bridge.
Water flows from the top of the natural bridge and cascades down from the trees and foliage to the rocks far below.
Hiking through this area just 3 miles from the highway makes me wonder how many other natural wonders are hidden throughout Arizona.
The odometer on our BMW rolled over to 28,000 miles as wound our way back up out of the park. We gave each other a high-five as we turned left onto Arizona 260 toward home. I wonder where we'll be when the odometer reaches 29,000 miles?