Monday, July 23, 2012

Camping at Fossil Creek

Before last summer, I didn't do much camping. Fossil Creek Wilderness Area sparked my interest in spending relaxing nights under the stars.

We drove on a long, bumpy, narrow road (Forest Road 708) from Strawberry into the Verde River camping area. (Note: This entrance is closed right now, according to the Coconino National Forest website.) The road is so primitive that we took our time, even in a Jeep.

Along the drive to the Verde River campsites we saw a reminder to drive carefully.

When we finally arrived, there were maybe eight other campsites set up. This first camping trip was quiet and relaxed, but on subsequent trips there have been some rowdy fellow campers, some even with fireworks, which were not only annoying and scary but also not allowed.

A sign on the way to the campsites says that nudity is not allowed; however, some campers did not abide by this rule.
Also not allowed were campfires, so a grill to cook with and lanterns are a must. We learned this the hard way: by forgetting the grill and having to eat cold foods after planning to eat turkey burgers.

After awaking bright and early, we hiked to the Verde hot springs. The trail was difficult to find in some spots. The directions we were given by a fellow camper were to keep hiking along the river until we reach a certain "red ball along the power lines." Along the way we found stacks of rocks to mean safe travels, and we needed it, as we could not find a trail. From the start of the hike, it is at least a mile before crossing the river is possible.
Hike along the Verde River and you will eventually see where to cross to get the hot springs.

Artwork adorns the Verde hot springs.
Later that day, we hiked along the clear waters of Fossil Creek to the waterfall. The water along the creek is a beautiful shade of blue. You can't help but hop in.