Fossil Creek, Irving, Childs - Arizona

July 31, 1999

Written by John Hill Mon Aug 2 19:16:29 1999

We had a fine trip to the power plants on Fossil Creek on Saturday July 31, 1999. Fossil Springs flows at a continuous rate of 20,000 gallons per minute. In the early 1900's Fossil Creek was dammed and a wooden flume constructed to carry water to electric generating plants (still operating) at Irving (to supply Phoenix) and Childs (to supply Prescott and Jerome). There is a 1600 ft drop over 10 miles to supply the energy. You take SR 260 out of Camp Verde to FR 708. Fossil Springs is 4 miles upstream from the Irving station. Backtracking on FR708 goes to the turnoff to Childs where you might be able to cross the Verde River if you don't want to go back to the highway.

Ed and Bill in their F-250, and John in his K2500 left Tucson (Ina & I-10) at 7:45am. This was our first 3/4 ton only trip --- Jeeps and Sammis need not apply! (Actually, it was just that all our short wheelbase pals were otherwise committed.)

We stopped for a fine breakfast of chicken-fried steak, eggs, biscuits and grits at the Iron Skillet (Sunland Gin exit from I-10). In fact, the whole trip is just to justify the breakfast. On the way through Phoenix, a truck flipped over the center divider and landed crosswise in our lane less than a minute before we got there. This delayed things for a while. We left the freeway (I-17) at Camp Verde and drove to Irving about 20 miles to the southeast. All the roads to Irving and Childs were class 2. There were plenty of cars and even the odd motorhome with lots of folks out for a swim in Fossil Creek. After a visit to the Fossil Springs trailhead above Jerome, we headed back down toward Childs. We stopped to admire the view from Ike's Backbone.

When we got to the campground along the river at Childs, we met some "interesting fellows". Fortunately we didn't have any kids along to hear the conversation that ensued. The Verde River was swollen and red from the recent monsoon rains. Ed waded the river to verify the depth and current at the designated fording location. Then we put things in shape for deep water fording (cameras off the floor and winch ready) and headed across. The water was 3 feet deep and 40 yards wide, but the current was reasonably mild (something like 250 CFS). I think our intoxicated friends expected us to get stuck, but we made it across without any trouble.

Across the river, the trail rating increased to class 3, and we managed to find some class 3.5 hills to climb on the side. We followed FR 16 and FR 24 south to Carefree. The road follows the powerline up out of the Verde valley and across Bloody Basin. With the aid of GPS and topo map the route was straightforward. With wilderness close by on both sides, this is really remote and scenic country. We only saw two other vehicles until we got to the campgrounds near Carefree. We made it to pavement just before the end of twilight.

We felt obligated to have dinner at Iron Skillet on the way home. Only our cardiologist knows if we had chicken-fried steak again! We got home at 11:45PM after 300 highway miles and 100 off-highway miles in about 12 hours of driving. There are multiple 4x4 roads thru Bloody Basin to Carefree. We'll have to explore some more of them someday.

No vehicle damage was reported -- only clogged arteries.

Trail Rating for Fossil Creek

Trail Location for Fossil Creek

Topographic Maps Needed

GPS Coordinates

Landmark UTM Easting UTM Northing Altitude
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Last modified: Tue Aug 3 19:24:42 1999