Fossil Springs Trailhead and Trail to Temporarily Close

    Fossil Springs Trail-head and Trail to Temporarily Close

    A large, natural waterfall on Fossil Creek is the destination of an easy, one mile hike on Waterfall Trail. A large, deep pool at the base of the fall is a popular swimming hole. Fossil Creek produces 20,000 gallons of water a minute from a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. This permanent water source has created a stunningly beautiful, green riparian zone rich with flora and fauna at the bottom of this arid canyon in Arizona’s high desert. Travertine deposits encase whatever happens to fall into the streambed, forming the fossils for which the area is named. These deposits create deep pools along the length of the creek, providing opportunities to find more secluded swimming holes than the popular pool at the waterfall. Fossil Creek is one of two “Wild and Scenic” rivers in Arizona. This designation was achieved when the Irving power plant was decommissioned, and removal of flume and dam on the creek allowed the creek to flow free. Increasing popularity has led to the Coconino and Tonto National Forests to implement a parking permit reservation system in 2016. Reserved parking permits allow visitors to have a parking spot available in their chosen parking lot. Many visitors drive two or three hours to get to the creek. The final descent to the creek at the bottom of a canyon is on an extremely rough, rocky jeep road. In prior years, the area would often be closed to entry when it reached capacity, and potential visitors would be turned away after the long, difficult drive. Photo by Deborah Lee Soltesz, May 4, 2016. For trail and recreation information, see Fossil Creek, Fossil Springs Wilderness, and the Coconino National Forest.
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    PHOENIX, May 31, 2019—For Immediate Release. The Tonto National Forest, in coordination with the Coconino National Forest, will implement a temporary closure of Fossil Springs trailhead and trail to visitors from July 1, 2019, through August 31, 2019. This emergency closure is needed to address the high risk of heat-related illness and injury experienced by hikers unprepared for the arduous hike from Fossil Springs trailhead to Fossil Creek along Trail 18 during hot summer months. Local emergency responders have been strained by requests for assistance in past seasons, resulting in concerns from local citizens
    around emergency response services for local community fire and medical emergency calls.

    The short-term goal is to reduce the burden on emergency responders and be responsive to safety concerns in a way that is environmentally and culturally responsible at this special place. A comprehensive plan for Fossil Creek is being developed to provide a wide variety of sustainable
    recreation uses over the long-term. Fossil Creek can still be accessed from Forest Road 708 off Highway 260 near Camp Verde. Reservations are required from May 1 through October 1 and can be made through Many recreation opportunities providing access to water play in rim country remain available. Visit Gila County’s website for more information

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