Over two years ago we learned about Fossil Creek. Last summer the whole area was closed for months due to extrem fire danger. This year we finally decided to make it happen. I checked the availability for permits and found one for today.
Fossil Creek is between Camp Verde and Payson about a 2.5 hour drive and the last 11 miles are a rough gravel road. But, we are rewarded with a gorgeous creek and crystal clear water. We knew the creek had water all year but didn’t expect such abundance and beauty.
Fossil Creek is fed by 7 springs up on the Mogollon Rim and therefore the water temperature of the water is always between 60 and 72 Fahrenheit.
We first hike all the way to the water fall (about one mile) then stop several times on the way back to take pictures and to swim in the deep green pools – very refreshing!
For lunch we drive back to the bridge, walk down to a shady place where we have our picknick and another dip in the water (this time Marco joins me) before heading home via Payson with little traffic and more beautiful scenery.
We will certainly be back here rather sooner than later!
Fossil Creek is a Wild and Scenic River in central Arizona on lands managed by the Coconino and Tonto national forests. The creek flows from its source at Fossil Springs 14 miles to its confluence with the Verde River downstream of the historic and decommissioned Childs power plant. Fossil Creek is one of only two Wild and Scenic rivers in Arizona. At temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, water gushes out at 20,000 gallons per minute from springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years, these calcium-rich waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed – forming the fossil-like formations for which the area is named.Source: https://www.recreation.gov/permits/251863
Fossil Creek is a rare riparian area within an arid landscape. Many plants and wildlife depend on Fossil Creek for habitat, including otters, beavers, leopard frogs and black hawks. Native fish populations have been successfully restored to some segments of Fossil Creek.
Fossil Creek has a number of Dilzhe’e (Western Apache) cultural sites. The Dilzhe’e lived along Fossil Creek for generations and still consider this to be part of their homeland.
Because of its beauty and year-round water, people are drawn to this area. The lushness of the riparian area strikes a sharp contrast to the dry and sparse desert vegetation that surrounds it.