Difficulty II-III(V)
Length 3 Miles
Flow Range 45 - 500 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 39.9 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 10/13/2019 2:52 pm

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.

Rapid Descriptions

Old Fossil Creek Dam

Class - N/A Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


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2 years ago

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: http://www.movescount.com/moves/move204267888#calendar-month=2018-02 and some Hike to the spring http://www.movescount.com/moves/move204267873#calendar-month=2018-02 Then the run on the Upper part of the Creek Just Walk and scout not recommended for usage http://www.movescount.com/moves/move204267856#calendar-month=2018-02

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2 years ago


default user thumbnail
10 years ago

Update: The dam has since been taken down. If you have a photo or update with the new riverbed, please post em here!

Gage Descriptions

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Directions Description

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No Accident Reports



article main photo

Comment Opportunity on Fossil Creek Management Plan (AZ)

Thomas O'Keefe

After several years of implementing interim management measures, the Coconino and Tonto National Forests are preparing a Comprehensive River Management Plan (CRMP) for Fossil Creek. The CRMP will provide detailed direction, implementation actions, and monitoring to protect and enhance river values. A preliminary comment opportunity is open through Friday January 27th (recently extended from January 13th) on alternatives the Forest Service is considering.


Kestrel Kunz


Matt Muir


Thomas O'Keefe


Cody Howard


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213794 10/13/19 Kestrel Kunz updated image position
1199675 03/21/11 Matt Muir Added gauge and abstract; copyedited text.
1207142 01/12/17 Thomas O'Keefe edits to logistics
1208043 07/15/17 Kestrel Kunz
1207144 01/12/17 Thomas O'Keefe name edit
1195164 05/30/09 Cody Howard
1194763 07/09/07 n/a n/a