Fossil Creek is like finding an oasis in the desert. A short hike rewards you with one of Arizona’s beautiful waterfalls. The turquoise clear waters of the creek pool to create perfect swimming holes to cool off at in the summer. Fossil Creek Waterfall is in Camp Verde, between Phoenix and Sedona. It is an easy day trip.
Permits and Parking
You must have an advanced permit to park your vehicle if visiting during the months of May – October. You will need to reserve a permit online. This change has made it easier to visit because in the past it was very difficult to secure parking.
How to get to Fossil Creek
To get to Fossil Creek from Phoenix drive north on I-17 and take a right on the Camp Verde exit, drive 5 miles and make a right on Fossil Creek Road. From here it is a 16 mile drive down a washboard dirt road with no guard rails. We recommend driving a high clearance vehicle.
This stretch of road can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on your speed and who you are stuck behind. The roads are narrow and there are some very pretty views.
After you cross the Fossil Creek bridge the road is pretty rough. You are almost there. To reach the Waterfall trail you’ll want to continue down the road until the end. In a short time you will see a small parking lot on your left. There is a restroom here and a few trailheads.
From this vantage point it is hard to believe you’re less than a mile from a gorgeous waterfall and a turquoise blue swimming hole..
Hiking the Waterfall Trail
There are several trails within this area of the Fossil Creek Wilderness, however the Waterfall Trail is the most popular.
Once you park in the lot to your left, walk down the dirt road with the road closed sign for a short way. You will see a fence on your left side and in a short distance there is an opening in the fence and a wooden sign for the Waterfall Trail trailhead.
Once you descend the path is level. We have visited in both summer and fall. Summer is obviously a great choice to enjoy the cool turquoise waters, but fall is absolutely gorgeous too.
From hear you can hear the sound of rushing water. The hiking path is a short distance from the water and there are a few pretty detours to stop and enjoy.
These turquoise pools are popular spots to cool off on a hot summer day. If you continue down the path you will cross two narrow wooden planks that serve as bridges over the wet ground.
After the first bridge there is another area to stop and enjoy a small waterfall. If you want to see the larger main waterfall continue past the second bridge and you will see why Fossil Creek is so popular. The water is clear and perfect for swimming.