Verde Valley News – The Fossil Creek recreation area — closed since June 2021 due to impacts from the Backbone Fire — will reopen to the public beginning November 3.
Sycamore Canyon has reopened as well.
All Fossil Creek sites, including Childs Dispersed Camping Area, will reopen November 3 except the Dixon Lewis Trail (formerly known as the Waterfall Trail). This trail is expected to reopen later this month when repairs are complete.
“This area is special to a great many people and we appreciate the public’s patience while it recovers,” said Deputy District Ranger Alex Schlueter. “That recovery continues for both Fossil Creek and Sycamore Canyon, but we are excited to welcome visitors back.”
The 16-month closure was necessary to allow the landscape to recover from both fire and monsoonal damage. Road and infrastructure repair was conducted during the closure period to ensure visitor safety.
The area’s continued recovery also means that a future closure is likely during the 2023 monsoon season (June through October) for public safety. Because vegetation in the area has not fully grown back since the fire, there is a greater risk for flash flooding and debris dams, especially during heavy precipitation.
Additionally, Fossil Creek will likely close temporarily in early 2023 to complete resurfacing of Forest Road 708.
Permits are not currently required to visit the Fossil Creek area, but permits will be required beginning April 1, 2023. Permits will be available for purchase beginning March 1, 2023 via Recreation.gov.
Recreationists interested in purchasing permits for the 2023 season can subscribe to emails from the Coconino National Forest or visit the Coconino NF website to remain up-to-date on permit information and check for unexpected changes in conditions or closures.
Recreationists seeking to explore Fossil Creek are reminded to pack out all trash, stick to developed recreation areas, and abide by all posted signage indicating restrictions or closures. It is also important to note that camping is only allowed downstream of Fossil Creek Bridge and upstream of the historic dam site in the backcountry. Camping is not allowed within the permit area during the permit season.