Fossil Creek


Area Status: Open

Fossil Creek

There are ten recreation sites and trails along Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River. Each site features deep pools and beautiful scenery.

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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 ...

Destinations: Flume Trail | Dixon Lewis Trail | Fossil Springs Wilderness | Other places to go

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April 1 - Oct. 1

Spring-summer season.
Parking permit required.
No camping allowed.

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Oct. 2 - March 31

Fall-winter season.
No permit required.
Some camping allowed.

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Never allowed

Campfires and glass containers are never allowed in the area.

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

At a Glance

Operational Hours: 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), Dixon Lewis Trailhead Parking Lots:
  • Parking lots are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • The access gate closes at 3 p.m. daily; however, you may still exit the parking lot after 3 p.m.
October 2 - March 31, Fall-Winter Season: 
  • Gates are open 24 hours unless there is a weather related closure.
Reservations: Reservations for a specific parking lot must be made in advance on Recreation.gov.
Area Amenities: Fee charged for some activities, Parking
Fees: April 1 - Oct. 1, Spring-Summer Season:
  • $6 per vehicle per day.
  • Permits are not issued on-site.
Oct. 2 - March 31, Fall-Winter Season:
  • 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 Recreation.gov.
  • 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: For all rules on Fossil Creek review
Camping:
  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - Oct. 1):
    • Camping is prohibited anywhere in the permit area.
  • Fall-Winter Season (Oct. 2 - March 31):
    • Camping is prohibited between Fossil Creek Bridge and Fossil Creek Dam.
Campfires and Glass Containers:
  • Campfires and glass containers are prohibited throughout Fossil Creek in its entirety.
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

Parking:

Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1):

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: Dixon Lewis 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.

Notes:

  • No trash service. Take all trash and other items with you to avoid fines for littering/trash dumping.
  • 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.

Directions:

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

  • 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.

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).

From Camp Verde, AZ

  • Use this route for creekside day-use areas, Flume Trail, and Dixon Lewis Trail access.
  • High-clearance, 4WD vehicle strongly recommended.

From Strawberry, AZ:

  • There is no access to the creek or waterfall by car from Strawberry, AZ.

Download Fossil Creek Seasonal Permit Area Guides

English

Fossil Creek Summer Map and Guide

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

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

Español

Fossil Creek Fall-Winter Map and Guide

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

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


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

River and Stream Fishing

Recreation areas with activity River and Stream Fishing:

Fishing Regulations

For current fishing information refer to Arizona Game and Fish Department regulations. Fishing is allowed seasonally, from the first Saturday in October through April 30. Fishing is allowed between the waterfall located approximately 1 mile above the Flume Trailhead parking lot along FS 708 and the downstream-most power line crossing (immediately below Sally May Wash). Catch-and-release only for roundtail chub.

Roundtail chub must be immediately released unharmed; no chub may be kept; artificial fly and lure only; single barbless hooks only.

Parking Pass: Reservation Required Spring-Summer Season

  • 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.

Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:

Parking

  • 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.

Backpacking

Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

Camping is prohibited between Fossil Creek Bridge and Fossil Creek Dam year round.

Camping and overnight parking are prohibited anywhere in the Fossil Creek permit area during the Spring-Summer Season (April 1 to October 1). See the Spring-Summer Guide (guía en Español) for more information.

  • Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - October 1): A permit is required for parking at trailheads in the permit area. Parking overnight at trailheads in the permit area is prohibited. You 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. Overnight camping is permitted in some areas in and around the Wilderness, and overnight parking is permitted at trailheads.

Horse Riding

Recreation areas with activity Horse Riding:

Parking: Fossil Creek Road (FR 708) is very rough and not recommended for horse trailers.

  • 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.

Viewing Wildlife

Recreation areas with activity Viewing Wildlife:

For more information, see Wildlife and Fisheries of the Red Rock District

Parking

  • 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.

Boating - Non-Motorized

Recreation areas with activity Boating - Non-Motorized:

Whitewater paddling in packrafts is most commonly run from the Dixon Lewis trailhead to the Fossil Creek Bridge. Hardshell kayaks can damage delicate Travertine formations. Reach out to the Fossil Creek manager with more questions, Rebecca Miller, 928-821-9881.

Swimming

Recreation areas with activity Swimming:

All creek access points have swimming opportunities.

Amenities

Parking: 9 parking lots (total 115 22' 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 pre-purchased parking permit required. No fees in Fall-Winter Season.

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
34.394321

  Longitude : 
-111.630025

  Elevation : 
3605