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Tonto N.F.
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    Tonto National Forest covers a diverse range of scenery, stretching from the Sonoran Desert floor to the pine forests of the Mogollon Rim. Located immediately northeast of metropolitan Phoenix, this wilderness draws lots of urban visitors.

    tonto forest arizona At 2.9 million acres, Tonto National Forest is the largest of the six national forests in Arizona and is the fifth largest national forest in the United States.

    The US Forest Service Tonto Pass if Required to visit any day-use or overnight area with park boundaries.
    Tonto Pass - information site.


    Wilderness Area

    US Wilderness Act of 1964 preserves a number of undeveloped regions in their primeval state, undisturbed by human encroachment. Seven major wilderness areas lie with Tonto N.F.


    Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
    The largest travertine bridge rock formation in America. It is tucked away in a tiny valley surrounded by a forest of pine trees.


    Tour Payson Arizona
    A small town completely enclosed by the Tonto National Forest, Payson has been refered to as both The Heart of Arizona and Zane Grey Country.
    Tonto Indian Ruins
    Tonto National Monument

    Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries.
    Tonto Forest Ecosystem

    This region includes low plains, desert scrubland, and alpine pine forests. The Upper Sonoran ecosystem is known for its characteristic saguaro cacti. Other common plants include: cholla, prickly pear, hedgehog, and barrel cactus (flowering from April to June); yucca, sotol, and agave; creosote bush and ocotillo; palo verde and mesquite trees; an amazing variety of colorful wild flowers in good years (February to March); and a lush riparian area which supports large Arizona Walnut, Arizona Sycamore, and hackberry trees.

    This ecosystem also serves as a home for native animals such as whitetail and mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, three rattlesnake species and many more.

    Four different varieties of skunk have been seen at Tonto National Monument - the hooded, hog-nosed, striped, and spotted. They may look different, but they all smell the same!


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Salt River Tour

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* Forest Map *

Kartchner Caverns
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Superstition Mtn
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* Tonto Natural Bridge S.P.*

    Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

    P.O. Box 1245, Payson, AZ 85547; 928-476-4202;

    The largest travertine bridge rock formation in America. It is tucked away in a tiny valley surrounded by a forest of pine trees.

    Tonto Natural Bridge is believed to be the largest travertine bridge in the world, it is 183 feet in height, 150 feet wide and 390 feet in length. The platform across the bridge is approximately 1050 feet long.

    This site was first documented by a Scotsman, David Gowan, in 1877, hiding from hostile Apaches in 1877. He was so enamored with the location that came back to settle this area. Their family lodge survives next to the rocks.

    Several forest trail heads originate from here

    • Pine Creek Trail - approximately 1/2 mile long
    • Waterfall Trail - approximately 600-foot round trip to waterfall cave.
    • Gowan Trail - approximately 1/2 mile long, ending at an observation deck in the creek bottom.


State Park Website - Official Website
America Parks Ambassador Blog - Service crew explores and refurbishes Tonto Natural Bridge SP.
Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge - Conservancy Group

* Forest Wilderness Areas *

    US Wilderness Act of 1964 preserves a number of undeveloped regions in their primeval state, undisturbed by human encroachment.


    Superstition Wilderness

    Phoenix Superstition This area protects the prominent landmark of The Superstition Mountains located to the east of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

    Numerous hiking trails cross the mountains from multiple access points, including the Peralta Trailhead, the most popular. The Lost Dutchman State Park, located on the west side of Superstition Mountain, includes several short walking trails.


    Four Peaks Wilderness

    Four Peaks Wilderness covers 60,700 acres of a prominent landmark of the Eastern Phoenix Skyline and is part of the Mazatzal Mountains. On rare occasions, On rare occasions, Four Peaks offers much of the Phoenix metro area a view of snow covered peaks, and is the highest point in Maricopa County.

    • Brown's Peak - The northernmost peak is named Brown's Peak and is the tallest of the four at 7,657 feet. (The other four are unnamed.)

    Hell's Gate Wilderness

    Situated below the Mogollon Rim, the 1000 foot deep canyon of Tonto Creek runs entirely through the center of this Wilderness. This waterway creates pereniel deep emerald pools sometimes separated by impassable falls. The area also contains Haigler Creek with its impressive rock formations.

    Trout, catfish, and smallmouth bass inhabit both creeks, popular destinations with anglers. Available water helps to support a variety of wildlife: black bears, mountain lions, mule deer, coyotes, gray foxes, javelinas, beavers, and many small mammals and birds.

    Six trailheads access this area of exceptionally rough and broken terrain crossing steep slopes and long rocky ridges. Archaeology buffs will encounter evidence of prehistoric use. Human use in this area is very light and difficult with substantial snowfall in the winter.


    Matzatzal Wilderness

    About 252,000 areas of wilderness in the northwest corner of the Tonto Forest and crosses over into the adjoining Coconino National Forest. Established in in 1940 and increased in 1984. The eastern side of this wilderness predominantly consists of brush or pine-covered mountains, sometimes broken by narrow, vertical-walled canyons. On its west side below the steep brush-covered foothills, the Verde River flows through the Sonoran Desert. This river was designated by the U.S Congress as Arizona's only Wild River Area in 1984.


    Salome Wilderness

    The Salome Wilderness lies within the Sierra Ancha mountain range in Gila County, Arizona. Prominent perennial streams within this wilderness area are Workman Creek and Salome Creek. The region has a diverse flora and fauna.


    Salt River Canyon Wilderness

    The Salt River and its deep canyon bisect the entire length of the wilderness. Elevations range from 2,200 feet to 4,200 feet.

    Although there are no regular trails here, this region is popuarlly visited during the white-water rafting season (March 1 - May 15).


    Sierra Ancha Wilderness

    The Sierra Ancha Wilderness area comprises 20,850 acres. The terrain varies from box canyons to high cliffs and pine-covered mountains. Elevations range from lows of about 4,000 feet to 7,733 feet at Aztec Peak. It is one of two wilderness areas within the Sierra Ancha mountain range. The wilderness is accessible through Tonto National Forest via numerous well-marked trails.


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Tucson Williams Center Hotel Resort Arizona Center Skyline

Embassy Suites at Williams Center
5335 East Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85750;
Location: Midtown - North of Davis-Monthan AFB

This full-service upscale and all-suite Embassy Suites hotel is just minutes from the University of Arizona campus Tucson Electric Park. Many Tucson attractions are all just a short drive away. Guests of the Embassy Suites stay in spacious two-room suites and receive a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast and a nightly manager's reception. High-speed Internet access is available throughout the hotel.

* Tonto Indian Ruins *

    Tonto Indian Ruins
    Tonto National Monument

    26260 N Az Hwy 188 #2, Roosevelt, AZ 85545;
    928-467-2241; NPS Official Website;

    Well-preserved cliff dwellings were occupied by the Salado culture during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native wildlife and plants.

    The Salado were fine craftsmen, producing some of the most flamboyant polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest. Some of the artifacts excavated nearby are on display in the visitor center museum.

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