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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Fossil Springs Wilderness

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/19/2021
Topics/Keywords: #Arizona #FossilCreek #FossilSpringsWilderness #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 516
Photos and essays about Arizona's beautiful and rugged Fossil Springs Wilderness.
Fossil Creek

Fossil Springs Wilderness is an 11,550-acre (18 square mile) wilderness area within the Coconino National Forest in the beautiful state of Arizona. It is at the bottom of a steep canyon at the edge of the Colorado Plateau, just south of the Mogollon Rim. At Fossil Springs, water gushes forth at the rate of about 2,700 cubic fee per minute as Fossil Creek. The perennial water supply supports one of the most diverse riparian ecosystems in the state, with more than 30 species of trees set among native desert shrub. It also creates a haven for abundant wildlife, including elk, deer, javelina, coyote, skunk, racoon, ring-tailed cat, fox, mountain lion, black bear and more than 100 species of birds.

Of more interest to me, personally, is the exquisitely tortured landscape, the amazing spiritual presence there, and the abundant opportunities for camping and swimming in a pristine, natural setting.

By the way, Fossil Creek was not named after any actual fossils. Fossil Springs water, while pure, is also laden with minerals, including a form of limestone called travertine. Travertine tends to coat anything submergered in it: Branches, leaves, even dead animals. In the 1880s when the area first was examined by people familiar with the pop science of the day, assumed the creek was filled with "fossils" and the name stuck.

Important Note Regarding Fossil Creek Access

The Rules Have Changed!

It used to be, the only thing you needed to visit Fossil Creek or the greater Fossil Springs Wilderness Area was an SUV, food and water. That is no longer true. Since 2015, a permit is required for any parking in the Fossil Springs Wilderness Area, and that permit cannot be purchased at any store. It must be requested and paid for ($6) online, and printed at home. (If you forget, at the time of this writing in 2016, the local public library allows visitors to get and print the permit for 30 cents.) The fee period is April 1 to October 1, during which camping is prohibited. Here's the link:

The reason for this is, simply, these days everyone owns an SUV and Old Fossil Creek Road became so packed—and unruly—during summer days (and especially weekends) that this was deemed the only way to manage the crowds that, frankly, were really destroying the experience. So I'm happy about this change.

Now, grouped here because of its proximity to Fossil Creek, you'll find pages describing my visits to Verde Hot Spring. Childs Power Plant campground and the hot spring are not part of the Fossil Springs Wilderness and therefore you can still camp and park there for free.

First Visit to Fossil Springs Wilderness

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 10/20/2001
Posted: 9/14/2015
Topics: #Arizona #FossilCreekWilderness #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 335
I take Michael, Dottie, Zach and baby Cailey to a hot spring.

A couple of days after my daughter, Dottie, came for a visit with her new baby, Michael and I decided to take Dottie, my new granddaughter, Cailey, and my almost-as-young grandson, Zach, on an expedition to a place I'd heard of but not yet visited: Verde Hot Spring, deep in the Fossil Creek Wilderness.

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The Art of Verde Hot Spring

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/29/2008
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #FossilCreekRoad #Photography #Travel #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 645
A look at the primitive art to be found at Verde Hot Spring in Fossil Creek Wilderness, Arizona.

This weekend's adventure was a solo camping trip to Verde Hot Spring, enhanced with a determined yet wrong-headed GPS, a new route, a car turned into a bedroom, a couple of treacherous trees, and a totally excellent digital camera.

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Return to Verde Hot Spring

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 7/22/2008
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #Places #UFOs #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 487
My new friend, Frank, and I visit the remote hot spring.

It's inevitable that, as I travel to campsite after campsite and see each of Arizona's natural wonders, great and small, I develop some favorites to which I want to return. One of these is Verde Hot Spring. Almost any excuse will do, as when my friend and rafting buddy Frank wanted a place to unwind after one of his grueling multi-continent series of flights. And so, back to Verde I went with Frank in tow.

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Son of Return to Verde Hot Spring

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 7/27/2008
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #UFOs #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 461
In which I bring another new friend to explore the marvels of the remote hot spring.

The reaction of my dear readers to my last post was, by and large, this: "Well, what happened after you left Verde Hot Spring? Did you spot another UFO? Whatever happened to Truck Guy?" But my readers were just echoing my own thoughts. And so, when I got off work Friday without having already planned a trip, and in fact I thought I'd just stay home and relax for a change, I felt a compulsion to return. Not to see a UFO, because I've already learned that they never show up when you're looking for them, but just because I had this nagging feeling of unfinished business. There was…something…going on at Verde Hot Spring, and I did want to figure out what it was.

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Maybe My Last Weekend In Verde

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 8/11/2008
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 517
The crowds at my favorite remote hot spring are quickly diminishing my enjoyment of it.

This past weekend marked my fourth time camping at Verde Hot Spring. Sadly, it will be the last weekend I do so. This gorgeous, remote spot has become a weekend party place for rowdy teenagers and twenty-somethings, to the point that no one else can enjoy the place on weekends. Too bad. Still, that didn't stop Michael and me from having a very nice campout with our new friends Eddie and Carl.

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Back Scratching

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/5/2008
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #FossilCreek #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 372
I decide to brave the crowds on an off day, and instead found the solitude I'd hoped for.

I really needed to get away and be by myself this weekend. Nothing was wrong; it's just that I had spent the four previous weekends at home with the family and needed some "me" time. I intended to go to Lockett Meadow on the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff; I've never been there, and it's supposed to be lovely and I thought the trees might even have turned color. But the weather forecast predicted rain and possibly snow up there; so by the time Saturday morning came around I had decided to visit my old favorite, Verde Hot Spring, where rain was less likely and the temperatures wouldn't be so low.

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The Aristocrats

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 10/26/2008
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 525
The sad realization that, just because some people like to visit Nature doesn't mean they can't also be assholes.

Another weekend, another trip to Verde Hot Spring. This time it was for the occasion of my friend Carl's birthday, even though his birthday was actually last week. Verde Hot Spring is also a favorite place of Carl and his partner Eddie. In fact, it's where we met. And spending five days there was Carl's birthday present to himself.

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The Innocents Encamped

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 4/26/2009
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #Travel #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 499
I bring a new friend camping…without making sure first that he likes camping.

A new friend, Jackson, told me he used to go camping a lot but hadn't in years. So, of course, I invited him to accompany Michael and me to Verde Hot Spring. What I failed to consider is that Jackson is a genteel young man who might not be ready for the free-wheeling hippies who camp out there. After all, camping in a genuinely remote area is a lot different than camping with one's parents at a KOA.

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November Camping in Arizona

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 11/8/2009
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #Photography #Travel #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 363
We go camping in November, yet do not freeze to death.

Previously, the latest in the year I've gone camping in Arizona was late October, and that was last year at Verde Hot Spring. Despite it being well after Labor Day, there was quite a crowd there, mostly pretty rowdy, then. Nevertheless, we had planned to go about the same time this year, as that's the way our friends, Eddie and Carl, celebrate their being-together anniversary. Sadly, Eddie's mom died a few weeks ago, so of course they postponed this year's trip, to this weekend. So, so did Michael and I. Even though I had some trepidation about camping in November.

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Flood on the Verde River

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 3/27/2010
Topics: #Arizona #Camping #Photography #VerdeHotSpring #VerdeRiver Page Views: 366
The time I failed to reach Verde Hot Spring due to a river swollen from winter rains.

This weekend's trip to Verde Hot Spring got cut short due to the fact that the Verde River is in flood season, unusually high because of all this winter's rains, and I couldn't cross it to get to the spring, which is my main reason for going. Still, I got some interesting photos of the river running so much higher than I've seen it before, so I thought I'd share them.

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Mother Of The Year

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 6/13/2010
Topics: #Arizona #camping #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 364
In which I encounter a naked mom and her terrified children.

This was another weekend in which I kept out of Michael's hair (and the way of his intense studying) by running off to the peace and quiet of Verde Hot Spring. And this time, it really was pretty quiet. Actually, it was very quiet, despite being fairly crowded. That might be thanks to the rangers, who apparently carted off an entire rock band that had intended to play over the weekend. But that doesn't mean there weren't still interesting people to observe, out here many miles away from the nearest Wal-Mart.

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The Swimming Hole at Fossil Creek Bridge

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 6/20/2010
Topics: #Arizona #FossilCreek #Photography Page Views: 509
We go swimming at Fossil Creek Bridge.

Most times I've driven out to Verde Hot Spring for campouts, I've passed an inviting swimming hole just below Fossil Creek Bridge, but never actually stopped there. For Father's day, we made a specific trip there just to go swimming, and concluded unanimously that this was even more fun than Slide Rock!

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Falling Stars

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 8/15/2010
Topics: #Perseids #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 511
Michael and I spend a weekend at Verde Hot Springs to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower.

The annual Perseid meteor shower was to peak Friday morning at 2:30 am, and Michael and I had intended to be in our tent at Verde Hot Spring (or, rather, the nearby Childs Campground) watching them. However, a very full dance card on Thursday (our anniversary) forced us to listen to reason and sleep at home Thursday night, not leaving for Verde until Friday morning. Still…we wound up seeing plenty of falling stars.

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Swimming at Fossil Creek

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/22/2010
Topics: #FossilCreek #Zachary Page Views: 358
I take Zach and his friends on a camping trip.

I promised my grandson, Zachary, to take him camping this weekend and I did. He wanted to bring a couple of friends, Lakota and Josh, and I said, all right. So it was four of us, one 59-year-old and three 11-year-olds, who headed north for a weekend of swimming in Fossil Creek. Dear gods, what was I thinking?

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Verde Hot Spring Camping Reboot

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 9/11/2010
Topics: #FossilCreek #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 457
I find a new, better campsite at Verde Hot Spring.

Long-time readers of my blog know that I often camp at Verde Hot Spring, and also that many of my camping experiences there have been less than ideal, marred mostly by noisy campers who imagine that their love of eardrum-splitting hip-hop is exceeded only by my own, and that 2:00 am is the perfect time to enjoy it.

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Late Summer At Verde Hot Spring

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 9/19/2010
Topics: #Arizona #Metaphysics #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 386
I return to Verde Hot Spring for the last time this sumer, and learn that timing is everything.

So, I'm spending this weekend, my second in a row, at Verde Hot Spring. In many ways it hasn't turned out as I expected…but since it never does, I don't know why I bother expecting anything! In any case, I really wanted to be here for the last weekend of the summer. (Tuesday will be the official switch to Fall, not that it means much here in Arizona.)

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Extremes in Beauty and Ugliness

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 8/16/2013
Topics: #BartlettLake #FossilCreek #VerdeHotSpring Page Views: 376
My friend Keith and I encounter extremes of beauty and behavior.

I've been saying for some time now, that Earth's quantum frequency is increasing; and I've mentioned several markers the observant should keep an eye out for as signs that this is so. Among those are: an increase in interspecies animal friends; more government corruption being exposed than ever before; beautiful places seeming more beautiful than ever; and ugly people going out of their way to put their ugliness on parade.

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Fossil Creek Camping with Keith

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/14/2013
Topics: #Arizona #FossilCreek Page Views: 369
Another camping trip in which we set the tent up at night.

Even though the weather has cooled a bit—a trifle, an infinitesimal yet measurable amount—it's still damned hot here in the Greater Phoenix area. So I suggested another campout to my friend, Keith, as a way to get to where it's cooler for at least a few hours. Keith agreed, and so we set out yesterday (Friday) evening after his last class, without even having decided where, exactly, we were going to go.

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Zach's Dry Run

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 9/30/2015
Topics: #Zachary Page Views: 414
All about the near-disaster that turned out fine.

My grandson, Zach, is 16 and chomping at the bit to get out there. He has his first car, a Jeep, and made a plan to take a few of his friends up to Fossil Springs Wilderness for a no-adults camping trip. However, there was one potential problem: Zach wasn't confident his 2001 Jeep could actually make the journey, as it had a tendency to overheat, despite having been just overhauled to the tune of $5000. And so, I proposed a dry run: He would drive his jeep and participate in making plans, choosing meals, and so on; Keith and I would go as well, keeping close to him and his vehicle in case there were any problems. That way, Zach would be able to test his planning skills as well as his Jeep.

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