Update: As of March 1, 2016, there is a parking reservation system for Fossil Creek from May 1 to October 1 of the year, also known as high season. Given the popularity of this beautiful area, this could be a positive development.
Less than two hours away from Phoenix is a desert oasis called Fossil Creek.
Getting there isn’t easy. You must first survive a rough, bumpy road from just outside Camp Verde. It’s a grating, uneasy 20-mile ride.
If you’re headed out to the waterfall, it’s about a mile hike from the trailhead parking lot. It’s rocky in some spots, so I don’t recommend doing it in flipflops. It’s best to wear hiking shoes and then change into water shoes, flipflops or bare feet at the swimming hole.
Don’t expect much seclusion at the waterfall, it attracts crowds and lots of partyers, especially on weekends. It’s not unusual to see a line of revelers at the top waiting to jump off. I’ve seen people show off with flips and (painful) belly flops done on a dare (The guy said he got $20 to do it. Not worth it, my friend.).
Besides the popular waterfall swimming hole, you can find other pools along the creek. The water is so clear you can see its little inhabitants.
Other hiking trails include the Flume Trail, which takes you to an old dam. It’s long and offers little shade, so bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.
You’ll catch vast views of the valley from a higher angle. The trail winds around the mountains at an incline, at least for the first half we did. Wildflowers and little critters call the area home. Beware of rattlesnakes; we were warned by a slithery creature to walk away. It’s the first time I’ve seen a rattlesnack on a trail.
|This is where the rattlesnake was hiding. It’s in there somewhere. …|
Tip: If hiking with pets, make sure they wear booties so their paws don’t get sore or burned. Your four-legged friends will thank you.
Camping is allowed past the bridge, but campfires are not permitted, so bring a cooking stove and lantern.
Other things to bring:
- Wet wipes and toilet paper. I never trust the portable toilets to have toilet paper. Hand sanitizer is always handy.
- Be sure to pack some bug spray because gnats are ridiculously abundant, especially close to the water.
- Water shoes.
- Leashes and booties for your dogs.
- Plenty of water.
- Trash bags.
- First-aid kit.
*This list may grow.
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