October 5, 2015

Chelsey F. shared this photo overlooking a popular swimming hole on Fossil Creek.

Fossil Creek is a popular destination for both tourists and locals due to its lush surroundings, which span over 12,000 acres of wilderness, supporting over 30 types of trees and over 100 species of birds. Fossil Creek is located within the Verde River Watershed, with headwaters of the creek made up of multiple springs that originate from the cliffs of the Mogollon Rim. Fossil Creek is one of two Arizona waterways designated as a Wild and Scenic River, a protection act created by Congress to preserve rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values.  The designation affords this seemingly tropical gem, a 20,000 gallon per minute spring-fed creek, with federal protections of maintaining its natural flow. Its name comes from waters enriched with high amounts of calcium carbonate minerals that blanket the streambed to create fossil-like formations. The creek freely-flows about 16 miles before it merges with the Verde River.

This rare riparian ecosystem provides a critical habitat for many animals that are able to survive in a desert environment. Several cultural sites along the creek tell an interesting story of human habitation in the area thousands of years ago by generations of Native American families. Surrounded by the Coconino & Tonto National Forests, the area is protected and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Recent threats to the waterway have little to do with obstructing the natural flow, but instead are due to increased traffic by visitors and the amount of litter left behind. Help preserve the natural beauty of this waterway by practicing Leave No Trace ethics when you are visiting. Remember to pack it in, pack it out.

To learn more about Fossil Creek, visit the Forest Service’s official page.

This photo by Chelsey F. is just one of over 1,000 submittals for our Spring 2014 Celebrate AZ Water Photo Contest. It provided a stunning opportunity to celebrate the importance and wonder of water in Arizona and to reflect on one of our region’s most important resources.