“Dive From Rocks!!”
This 11,550 acre Wilderness boasts what has been described as the most diverse riparian area in Arizona. Over thirty species of trees and shrubs and over a hundred species of birds have been observed in this unique habitat. The stream seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute out of a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years these calcium laden waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed - forming the fossils for which the area is named. Most people come to Fossil Creek to sunbathe, wade, hike and birdwatch. It's also a great place to take photographs. The lushness of the riparian area strikes a sharp contrast to the brittle desert that surrounds it. While you're here, keep an eye out for javelina. These collie dog-sized wild pigs are plentiful in the area. The photo above is old travertine formations fossilized over time, logs and roots have since decayed and the river course has changed.
We just completed this hike on June 5, 2017. Overall we were satisfied with the hike. It is one of the more challenging we have done. The signs say 10 miles round trip but I believe it is longer than that. Closer to 11-11.5. It is downhill there with loose stones in areas and patches of shade. It was not difficult to climb down and took us 1.5 hours. When we got to the bottom we were pleased with the waterfall and went swimming. Defiantly wish I would have brought some water shoes because the rocks are slick trying to get in. Some people even had blowup floaties which would have been relaxing. We also brought our 5 month old puppy. It was too hot for him to walk such a long distance so he rode in a dog backpack most of the way. If you bring your dog please bring plenty of water for them and allow them plenty of rest time because there were other dogs there who struggled getting back to the top.
The climb back to the top was very tiring. It is a constant incline back to the top. It was in the high 80's. We brought enough water but wish we would have packed even more. A gallon or more is good! I brought an umbrella to shade my puppy but it ended up coming in handy for us as well. Everyone we passed commented on how they wish they had an umbrella too. Defiantly worth bringing!!
Make sure to enter this hike through Strawberry, AZ as the other entrance has been closed off due to landslides blocking the road. You need a permit to park because they only allow so many cars each day. We didn't have a problem getting a permit 3 weeks in advance.
Overall it was a great hike!!
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