Fossil Creek - 01. Upper

Fossil Creek, Arizona, US


01. Upper

Usual Difficulty II-III(V) (for normal flows)
Length 3 Miles

a small drop on the upper

a small drop on the upper
Photo by looze taken 11/01/11

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09507480 45 - 500 cfs II-III(V) 00h47m 38.7 cfs (too low)

River Description

The upper stretch of Fossil Creek is a more committing run with a rugged hike to the put-in and more complicated shuttle logistics.

Although this is a scenic run through a lush oasis in an arid landscape, the run can drag on for a bit. It is worth exploring for the scenic beauty and if you have done other runs in the area and are seeking a new adventure.

One major bonus of this run is Fossil Creek Falls; it was first run by Cody Howard and has been run since. There are two options for this 30-40 drop: the river right channel (Through da' Trees) or the river left (Mini Bomb). Believe it or not, Mini Bomb is the cleaner of the two. For those with the skills to run these drops safely, you will know what to do. Others, should steer clear.

From there on down, the creek is filled with trees, spiders, nasty pitons and more trees. Get down to the start of the classic section by either boating or shouldering your boat on down.


This run requires a longer hike and more complicated shuttle logistics. The put-in is accessed off of the segment of the Fossil Creek Road that begins in Strawberry off Highway 260. Drive 4.7 miles west down this road and turn right to the Fossil Springs Trailhead Parking (Lot 6). A reservation and parking permit is required for this trailhead April 1 through October 1.

From the trailhead it is a 3.1 mile hike to the put-in at Fossil Springs with a 1280' descent from the canyon rim.

Since this run continues on through the classic run on Fossil Creek you will need to access the take-out from the Camp Verde side. Just east of Camp Verde on State Route 260 and turn onto Fossil Creek Road (Forest Road 708) which is a 14 mile dirt road that heads down to Fossil Creek. As you approach the junction of Forest Road 708 and 502 you will enter the Fossil Creek Permit Area.

At the Forest Road Road 708/502 junction, turn left and head 0.75 miles to the Fossil Creek Bridge day use site (Lot 2) which is the standard take-out for the classic run. A reservation and permit is required to park here April 1 through October 1. It is possible to use a take-out at one of the other lots upstream or downstream of the bridge.

Permit Information

Advance permits are required to park a vehicle within the Fossil Creek Permit Area from April 1 through October 1. During this season and dependent on availability, a maximum of six permits, per person is allowed (one permit = one day). Permits are made available one month ahead of time, on the first of the month.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-15 03:21:28


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Old Fossil Creek DamN/A

Rapid Descriptions

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 17 2018 (240 days ago)
magpinzon (159876)
Heaven And Hell starts with great drops and shuts then the Jungle closing every pass over beautiful
terraces with well-developed foot entrapment over every single step one in a lifetime experience,
recommended to Hike from Irvin up on the offseason camping out of the boundary and launch the
following morning here is the trail to the Camp Site: and some Hike to the spring Then the run on the Upper part
of the Creek Just Walk and scout not recommended for usage
April 17 2018 (240 days ago)
magpinzon (159876)
September 14 2009 (3377 days ago)
x (1)
Update: The dam has since been taken down. If you have a photo or update with the new riverbed,
please post em here!

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