Fossil Creek

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.

Once a treasure of the Arizona desert, with pools and waterfalls throughout its incised course, Fossil Creek went nearly dry after construction of a 25-foot concrete dam in 1909 diverted most of its flow to generate power. In 1945 the Federal Power Commission issued a 50-year license for the dam, the power plant and a reservoir named Stehr Lake. In 1992 Arizona Public Service (APS) applied for a renewal of the license. Following lengthy consultation with the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and environmental organizations, APS agreed to decommission the dam and hydropower facility. On June 18, 2005, after nearly a century of absence, natural flows returned to Fossil Creek.

A section of the pipe carrying diverted water from Fossil Creek to the Childs Power Plant

Between the Irving and Childs plants, the spring water exited the flume and tunnels and entered an artificial reservoir, Stehr Lake. Stehr Lake was built to create a backup water supply in case of low volume.

Need some wheels

We didn't see any this trip

A cattle scale

Insidethe Scale

Tryed to cross the Verde River but it was flowing to fast

Mike shooting photo's

Location: About 30 miles southeast of Camp Verde or 86 miles south of Flagstaff off paved and graveled roads some of which are always steep and rough and usually muddy after rains.

Access: Two routes provide access to Fossil Springs Wilderness: from Camp Verde via FH 9 and FR 708, or from Flagstaff via FH 3, U. S. 87 through Strawberry and FR 708.

Watershed runoff from snowmelt or precipitation through the Fossil Creek drainage varies greatly throughout the season. About 74 percent of the base flow of the creek emanates from Fossil Springs, the largest concentration of spring water discharge on the Mogollon Rim and one of the few remaining unmanipulated major springs in the desert southwest. The springs provide a relatively constant flow of about 46 cubic feet per second (cfs) from more than 100 orifices within a 1,000-foot stretch of Fossil Creek.

A high concentration of calcium carbonate and dissolved carbon dioxide forms travertine in Fossil Creek’s channel. Travertine deposition over rocks, fallen wood and other objects, forms natural dams, creating steps and pools. Since construction of the diversion dam, however, much of the pre-existing travertine has deteriorated.

A Skunk

Fishing is allowed seasonally, from the first Saturday in October through April 30 (starting Oct. 3, 2009). Fishing is allowed between the waterfall located approximately 1 mile above the Flume Trailhead parking lot along FS 708 and the downstream-most power line crossing (immediately below Sally May Wash). Catch-and-release only for roundtail chub

A snow storm heading our way

A Mule Deer

Heading home on Hwy 87 fallowing the snow plow

The End

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