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Fossil Creek Falls

Pine, Arizona

based on 12 reviews



2.42 miles

Elevation Gain

328 ft

Route Type



Added by Dane Nilsson

Enjoy a beautiful waterfall with a 25 foot cliff to jump off. There are multiple swimming areas, breathtaking scenery, and nearby camping spots along the adventure. There are no park/admission fees.

The journey is definitely worth it! Don't let the description discourage you from visiting here. This is simply to help you be prepared so that you can enjoy this wonderful place as safely as possible!

Fossil Creek Rd can only be accessed from Camp Verde via FH 9 (Hwy 260) and FR 708 due to road closures until Spring 2017. Before setting off on your journey, it is highly recommended that you travel in a vehicle suited for very rugged and rocky terrain. From the beginning of Fossil Creek Rd to the parking area is a 21 mile stretch of winding, narrow, mountainous unpaved road. There are many rocks, holes and other hazards that can pop tires or cause damage to your vehicle, so drive with caution. Your vehicle is going to get very, very dirty! Wait until after your adventure to take it to the car wash. Be sure to pack plenty of food and water. You will be in the wilderness and won't have easy access to supplies.

Drive on Fossil Creed Rd until you can't drive any farther due to the road closure. Parking is limited, not well labeled and there is a good chance that you will need to find a spot on the side of the road as this is a very popular location. The walk to the waterfall trail head is only about 1/4 mile and then another mile from the trail head to the waterfall. There is no noticeable incline and the terrain is suitable for all ages and experience levels. Boots or hiking shoes are recommended because of rocky areas and the possibility of encountering a rattlesnake. To lessen your chances of finding such a serpent, stay on the designated trail. Keep in mind that you will be in a remote area with no easy access to medical care or cellular service.

The mile walk goes through a beautiful forest alongside the colorfully stunning Fossil Creek. The crystal clear water emits vibrant hues of blues and greens along a rocky yet lush desert landscape that will entice any photographer or owner of a smart phone to capture the scenery in a digital image. If you prefer the serenity of nature over the crowd's excitement at the waterfall, the trail offers side paths to more peaceful locations on the creek that still facilitate swimming and the same beauty as the main attraction; complete with waterfalls! Take a moment to look down at your feet as you stand in the creek and you will discover that you are sharing the water with dozens of fish ranging in size from 3-12 inches. They are friendly and curious but completely harmless. This creek is their home and they don't mind having respectful visitors.

Once you've reached the destination, cool off from the desert heat by taking a swim in the large natural pool at the base of the waterfall. If you're feeling brave, take a dive off of the 25 foot rock ledge! Expect to share the area with people of all ages and walks of life. It's a great place to be social and make some new friends while creating exciting adventures and unforgettable memories.

Please remember to pack it in and pack it out! Keep this natural wonder clean for future visitors and preserve the ecosystem in which it thrives.

Geo Coordinates: 34.414668, -111.605477

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Swimming Hole


Make sure you have a permit and also make sure you have the vehicle that can make it over the 14 mile rocky road. The falls and grotto areas are worth both these hurdles.

The hike to get to the waterfalls is short and easy making it a popular summer destination. There is a permit system in place which helps to control the crowds, but it is still quite busy. The waters that flow through the creek are crystal clear and run at 70 degrees year round

This was my wife and I's first trip out here in AZ. It was a really beautiful area. Went on a Friday so it wasn't terribly busy. The drive in was 14 miles of unfinished road with some decent sized rocks that'll slow you down. We parked at the closest parking lot and it was about a 30 minute hike. I thought it was going to be an easy "walk" to the falls, so I went in flip flops. It was definitely easy enough to do in flip flops, but next time I'll be bring some actual shoes ;). Speaking of which, you're going to want to have some kind of water shoes for the falls. I will be going again for sure.

This is my favorite swimming hole in the United States. There is nothing more stunning than being in the middle of the desert and finding this clear and cold water.

The water was so beautiful and clear and well worth the 14 mile dirt drive down. Be sure to get your Permit from the Recreation.gov, you can't go down with out it, and be sure to PRINT IT ;)

They offer new online parking reservations at Recreation.gov if you want to ensure good parking for this very busy area. While I've avoided this area the last couple of years due to all the crowds, trash and injuries. I've heard that it has rebounded since the permit system and will have to check it out!

Make sure if you go in the summer that you get a parking pass and make sure to print it before you go or you will get turned back!! Also be sure to take your trash out!

My two friends and I made the trip from Chander, AZ and it was about a 2.5 hour trip to the start of the *dreaded* 14 mile unpaved road. From there, it was probably about another hour to the trail head. (Make sure you buy a permit online before you go!) the bumpy unpaved road seems unforgiving and everlasting but BELIEVE ME that drive it worth it for the creek. We parked in the Irvine parking lot and walked about .25 miles to the Waterfall trail parking lot (it was full when we went to buy our pass). From there, there are a few trail heads but to get to the waterfall you want to continue walking up what looks like a road after about .5 miles you will find a trail head and walk about another mile to get to the waterfall. Super cool and so worth it but I also recommend stopping in cool spots along the way as they had less people and we're still swimmable and very relaxing.

Visited the trail on April 4, 2016. Fossil Creek Rd is CLOSED to vehicle travel just after the Fossil Springs Trail head. You cannot continue west on this dirt road. Therefore, we did not make it to the Waterfall Trail on Fossil Creek trail head. The only way to access the trail is to walk/run/bike Fossil Creek Rd to the trail head and proceed north on the Waterfall Trail on Fossil Creek. Or you can take Fossil Springs Trail out to the Fossil Creek Dam (Toilet Bowl) and continue west passing the bowl area. Once the creek takes a south bend and you will notice the trail does as well (approx 34°24'53.2"N 111°36'27.5"W), cut over toward the creek and you will hear the falls. Check out Google maps too, just so you know when to cut over.

Awesome spot went June 23, 2015 and it was a perfect day. The trail was bumpy but still fine for a sedan type car. The hike to the falls is not bad at all and the water is amazingly beautiful and clear. There are very friendly fish swimming around, truly an incredible place and one not to miss. If you go please keep it safe and pick up trash!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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