Fossil Creek



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...

Fossil Creek & Fossil Springs Wilderness photo gallery [Flickr]


Spring-Summer Permits Available Now!

Book Now on! A parking permit is required April 1 - October 1. On the first of each month, permits for the following month are available.

Fall-Winter Season: No Permits Required!

Fall-Winter Season (October 2 - March 31): No permits are required to visit Fossil Creek in the fall and winter. Camping is permitted near the creek downstream from the Bridge and upstream from the dam. Glass containers and campfires are prohibited. See the Fall-Winter Guide and Forest Order: Fossil Creek Restrictions for the complete rules and regulations.



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


At a Glance

Current Conditions: 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 Map, Guide, and Rules (guía en Español) and the Fossil Creek Road Closure Forest Order for information. 
  • 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: Use this route to access Fossil Springs Trail. The creek cannot be accessed by car from Strawberry.
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 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: Make parking permit reservations at
Area Amenities: Fee charged for some activities,Parking
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): $6.00 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
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: Temporary portable 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 cannot 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
  • Upper canyon - east end accessed from Strawberry, Arizona via SR-87: Fossil Springs Trailhead (horse trailer parking). There is no creek or waterfall access from here by car. The waterfall is a 10 mile desert hike from this parking area.


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.


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 and 229, Forest Road 708 (Fossil Creek Road) will intersect 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 the intersection with Forest Road 502 (Childs Road).

A reserved, printed parking pass is required for all creek-side sites and trailheads during the busy season (April 1 to October 1).

There 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

  • Reset Map
    Reset Map
Loading Icons...



Show detail SHOW


Show detail SHOW

Horse Riding & Camping

Show detail SHOW

Nature Viewing

Show detail SHOW


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): $6 reserved parking permit required. No fees in Fall-Winter Season.