What is Fossil Creek?

Where is Fossil Creek?

1. Where is Fossil Creek?

Fossil Creek (Yavapai: Hakhavsuwa or Vialnyucha) which is one of only two perennial streams in Arizona included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System is near the community of Strawberry in the U.S. state of Arizona. Being a tributary of the Verde River, Fossil Creek flows from its headwaters on the Mogollon Rim to meet the larger stream near the former Childs Power Plant.

 the Verde River

Its former power-plant complex is listed as a National Historic District. Since the restoration of the stream's natural flow in 2008, an increase in recreational visits has raised concerns about overuse which results into road closings and some other restrictions. Besides, it is fed by springs coming from the cliffs of the Mogollon Rim. The high mineral content leaves travertine dams and deposits, giving rise to fossil-like features.

2. Fauna and flora

Fossil Creek is known as a rare riparian area within an otherwise arid landscape. The Creek and its riparian zone provide habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, about 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and native fish including headwater chub, round tail chub, speckled dace, long fin dace, Sonora sucker, and desert sucker.

a rare riparian area - Fossil Creek

The other wildlife depends on Fossil Creek for habitat, including otters, beavers, leopard frogs, and common black hawks. However, some species were listed as endangered or otherwise imperiled. It is fascinating to see javelina or collie dog-sized wild pigs being plentiful in the area.

 javelina at Fossil Creek

In addition, Fossil Creek's riparian zones provide plant species with high-quality habitat. The vegetation here is extremely diverse, including deciduous trees such as the Arizona alder and Fremont cottonwood, a wide variety of shrubs, grasses, ferns, and other understory plants.

the Arizona alder at Fossil Creek

3. Human activities

This place has beautiful scenery with year-round water, which has attracted a large number of visitors from all over the world. Unlike the dry and sparse desert vegetation surrounding it, this riparian area is lush, charming and seductive.

Bird watching at Fossil Creek

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. Fossil Creek's steady flow, warmth, deep pools, and small waterfalls attract visitors who wade, swim, float, kayak, and snorkel in its waters.

speckled dace at Fossil Creek

Fossil Creek has a large number of Dilzhé’é (Western Apache) cultural sites. The Dilzhé’é living along Fossil Creek for generations consider this to be their beloved homeland. In 2009, Congress designated Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic River to protect the river's amazing attributes for years to come.

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