Fossil Creek is a perennial river in central Arizona, located near the community of Strawberry. The headwaters of the creek begin at Fossil Springs, a rare and powerful spring in Arizona, which produces upwards of one million gallons of water per hour.
Fossil Creek first appeared on maps in Arizona dating to the 1860s, although its discovery was likely much earlier, due to trapper activity in the region. Arizona Territory's first governor, John Noble Goodwin, passed through the region in the 1860s, at which time the creek was already known by its present name due to abundant "petrifications" along the stream bed. This rock formation, now known as travertine, is caused by high levels of calcium carbonate in the water, which causes large, fossil-like rock growth.
At the turn of the century, flow from the springs into the creek was estimated between 40 and 48 cubic feet per second (1.1 and 1.4 m3/s), which emerged from the ground at a constant 72 °F (22 °C).
Reintroduction of native fish—including speckled dace, roundtail chubs, Sonora suckers and desert suckers—are integral to the stream restoration process. To prepare for the reintroduction, exotic fish were removed from the creek to maximize native fish survival.
Wild and Scenic River
President Barack Obama signed legislation designating Fossil Creek as a Wild and Scenic River on March 30, 2009, after a long campaign by the Arizona Nature Conservancy.