Waterfall Trail on Fossil Creek
Waterfall Trail is the most popular area at Fossil Creek. The one-mile trail follows the creek to a natural waterfall, where crowds spend the day swimming. This rewarding hike showcases the beauty Fossil Creek has to offer. However, swimming and cliff diving near the waterfall is extremely dangerous, and has led to several drowning deaths and severe injuries. Fossil Creek offers miles of gorgeous water features and secluded, crystal clear swimming holes. This trailhead, creek and waterfall can NOT be accessed from Strawberry, Ariz.
Waterfall Trail Photo Gallery [Flickr]
Permits Required April 1 to Oct. 1
April 1 - October 1
(PDF, 1.7 MB)
Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - Oct. 1): A reserved, printed permit is required. Reserve a parking spot at Recreation.gov 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 videos, news, and more!
For current conditions, call the Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611
At a Glance
|Area Amenities:||Fee charged for some activities, Parking|
|Closest Towns:||Camp Verde, AZ|
|Restroom:||Temporary portable toilets|
|Operated By:||Red Rock Ranger District 928-203-2900|
|Information Center:||Fossil Creek Hotline 928-226-4611|
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.
The creek and waterfall cannot be accessed by car from Strawberry, Ariz.! A portion of Forest Road 708 is closed from Bob Bear (formerly Fossil Springs) Trailhead to Waterfall Trailhead due to hazardous cliff collapse and damage to the road. The only way to access the Waterfall Trailhead by motor-vehicle is to take the road from Camp Verde.
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 to the trailhead parking on the left.
GPS (Map): 34°24'18.0"N 111°36'50.3"W
Download seasonal recreation guides for Fossil Creek and Fossil Springs Wilderness
Mapas y guías de área de permisos de Fossil Creek (Español)
- 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.
- No trash service: Take all your trash with you when you leave to avoid fines for littering/trash dumping.
- Please practice Leave No Trace ethics and help keep this area pristine.
Attractions: Trails for hiking, swimming holes, waterplay, unique rock formations, great scenery, wildlife viewing, lush riparian area.
Fossil Creek Road Partial Closure: Fossil Creek Road (FR 708) is closed between Bob Bear (formerly Fossil Springs) Trailhead (just west of Strawberry, Ariz.) 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. This trail cannot be accessed from Fossil Springs Road in Strawberry, Ariz. From Camp Verde, Arizona: Take SR-260 east to Fossil Springs Road. The 14 mile drive to the trailhead is very rough. A high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended!
- Spring-Summer Season (April 1 - Oct. 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 (Oct. 2 - March 31): No passes or permits are required.
Map showing recreational areas. Map 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:||20 22' parking 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.|