Fossil Creek

Area Status: Closed
This area is Closed



Fossil Creek, one of two "Wild and Scenic" rivers in Arizona, seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute out of a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years these calcium laden waters have laid down huge deposits of a type of limestone called travertine. Read more...

View Fossil Creek & Fossil Springs Wilderness photo gallery [Flickr]


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Permits Required April 1 to October 1

Fossil Springs Trailhead permits must be reserved as Bob Bear Trailhead as its name has changed.

Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): A reserved, printed permit is required. Reserve a spot at for any of the parking areas in the Fossil Creek area. During the Spring-Summer Season, the Fossil Creek and Springs area is day use only. Camping, campfires, and glass containers are prohibited.

See Fossil Creek Reservation System Information!


For current conditions, call
Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Due to Backbone Fire, FS-708, Fossil Creek Permit Area, Childs Day Use/Dispersed Camping is closed until further notice. \r\n
Operational Hours: Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1)
  • Sally May, Purple Mountain, and Mazatzal Parking Lots: Parking lots are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Homestead, Fossil Creek Bridge, Tonto Bench, Irving (Flume Trailhead), Waterfall Trailhead, and Bob Bear (formerly Fossil Springs) Trailhead Parking Lots: Parking lots are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The access gate closes at 4 p.m. daily; however, you may still exit the parking lot after 4 p.m.
Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): Gates are open 24 hours unless there is a weather related closure.
Reservations: Due to Backbone Fire, FS-708, Fossil Creek Permit Area, Childs Day Use/Dispersed Camping is closed until further notice. 

Fossil Creek Permits have been canceled on until further notice.  Refunds have been issued and emails/phone calls have been iniated to notify permit holders.

Personell are posted at AZ Highway 260/FS 708 to limit entry to fire personell and USFS employees. 
Area Amenities: Fee charged for some activities,Parking
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): $6 per vehicle per day. Permits are not issued on-site. Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance on
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No fees, permits, or reservations are required.
Permit Info:
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Parking permit required for parking in the Fossil Creek area. Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance through Visitors must bring printed permits and passes to the site. Permits cannot be issued on-site.
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No fees or permits required.
Open Season: Year-round
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: Summer
Restrictions: Camping:
  • Spring-Summer Season: Camping is prohibited anywhere in the permit area.
  • Fall-Winter Season: Camping is prohibited between Fossil Creek Bridge and Fossil Creek Dam.
Campfires and Glass Containers: Campfires and glass containers are prohibited between Ike's Saddle and the head of Fossil Creek. See the Spring-Summer Guide, Fall-Winter Guide and Forest Orders for information (guía en Español). Clear Creek Campground and Childs Dispersed Camping Area are recommended area camping sites.
Closest Towns: Camp Verde, AZ
Restroom: Vault toilets
Operated By: Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611; Red Rock Ranger District - 928-203-2900
Information Center: Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611

General Information

  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Permit is required for parking. Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance. Visitors must bring PRINTED permits and passes to the site. Permits can NOT be purchased on-site. See Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Fossil Creek reservations.
  • Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No passes or permits are required.

Parking Locations: Parking spaces accommodate 22' vehicles unless otherwise noted. A parking space at any lot can be reserved during the Spring-Summer Season:

  • Creek-side on Fossil Creek Road (FR 708) - central creek-side lots accessed from Camp Verde, Arizona via SR-260: Waterfall Trailhead, Irving/Flume Trailhead, Tonto Bench, Fossil Creek Bridge, Homestead
  • Creek-side on Forest Road 502 - southwestern creek-side lots on the road to Childs and Ike's Saddle, accessed from Camp Verde, Arizona on Fossil Springs Road via SR-260: Sally May, Purple Mountain, Mazatzal


General Notes:

Attractions: Trails for hiking and horseback riding, swimming holes, waterplay, unique rock formations, great scenery, wildlife viewing, photography, and a lush riparian area.


  • No trash service: Take all trash and other items with you to avoid fines for littering/trash dumping.
  • Periodic closures of Fossil Creek Road may occur due to weather, health, and safety concerns.
  • Mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes and remote controlled aircraft, are NOT permitted in the Wilderness.
  • This area can be quite hot in summer. Bring plenty of drinking water.

Fossil Creek Road Partial Closure Fossil Creek Road (FR 708) is closed between Fossil Springs Trailhead (just west of Strawberry, AZ) and the Waterfall Trailhead (east of Fossil Creek Bridge) indefinitely. See the Fossil Creek Road Closure Forest Order (linked to Tonto NF) for information. For all the rules on Fossil Creek see  Fossil Creek Map, Guide, and Rules (guía en Español).

  • From Camp Verde, AZ: Use this route for creekside day use areas, Flume Trail, and Waterfall Trail access. High-clearance, 4WD vehicle strongly recommended.
  • From Strawberry, AZ: The creek cannot be accessed from this side, and Bob Bear Trail & Trailhead is a STRENUOUS 4-mile hike to any water which requires a permit.


Location: Fossil Creek is located about 22 miles southeast of Camp Verde (86 miles south of Flagstaff) off paved and dirt roads. Fossil Creek Rd. (FR 708) and Childs Rd. (FR 502) are steep and very rough. These roads may be extremely muddy, slippery, and treacherous after it rains.

GPS - Bridge(Map): 34°23'39.6"N 111°37'48.1"W

Access via Camp Verde: From Interstate 17, exit 287, turn east on state Route 260 towards Payson and travel 10 miles. Between mile 228 & 229, Forest Road 708 (Fossil Creek Road) intersects SR 260 on the right, signed as Fossil Creek/Verde River. Travel 14 miles down this rough dirt road (high-clearance 4WD vehicles recommended) to Forest Road 502 (Childs Road).

A reserved, PRINTED parking pass is required for all creek-side sites and trailheads from April 1 to Oct. 1.

There is no access to the creek or waterfall by car from Strawberry, AZ. Know your destination and plan your route carefully before heading to Fossil Springs and Creek. Do not depend on online maps or your GPS for directions. Many people who do so find themselves lost and miles away from the creek.



Download seasonal recreation guides

Fossil Creek Summer Map and Guide

Spring-Summer Guide
April 1 - October 1
(PDF, 1.7 MB)

Fossil Creek Fall-Winter Map and Guide

Fall-Winter Guide
October 2 - March 31
(PDF, 1.6 MB)


Mapas y guías de área de permisos de Fossil Creek (Español)

Mapa y guía de área de permisos de Fossil Creek en primavera y verano

Guía para la primavera y el verano
1 de abril - 1 de octubre
(PDF, 220 kB)

Mapa y guía de área de permisos de Fossil Creek en otoño e invierno

Guía para el otoño e invierno
2 de octubre - 31 de marzo
(PDF, 250 kB)


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Horse Riding & Camping

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Nature Viewing

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Water Activities

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Parking 9 parking lots (total 145 22' spaces, 3 horse trailer spaces). Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): Printed, reserved parking permit required. Parking permits not required in Fall-Winter Season.
Fee charged for some activities Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): $10 pre-purchased parking permit required. No fees in Fall-Winter Season.
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