The United States Congress designated the Fossil Springs Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 10,434 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Arizona
and is managed by the Forest Service.
"Where there is water, there is life," the saying goes, and Fossil Springs proves it's true every day of the year. At the bottom of a steep and wide canyon, at the edge of the Colorado Plateau just south of the Mogollon Rim, a group of springs pump water to the surface at the rate of about 20,000 gallons per minute. That endless water supply supports one of the most diverse riparian ecosystems in the state--more than 30 species of trees set among native desert shrub. It also creates a haven for abundant wildlife: elk and deer higher up; javelina, coyote, skunk, ring-tailed cat, fox, and smaller mammals lower down; and more than 100 species of birds.
The canyon of Fossil Springs extends northeast for about 12 miles and splits into Sandrock Canyon and Calf Pen Canyon, as well as several other sheer-walled side canyons. You'll discover an area that has retained much of its natural integrity, a clean and pristine place to visit. Traces of early Native American civilization may be found here. The Mail Trail (3.1 miles), once used by horseback mail deliverers, the Fossil Springs Trail (2 miles), and the Flume Road Trail (3.5 miles) provide access to the Wilderness, but few humans ever venture beyond the springs region. You should plan on several days of backpacking to explore the hidden parts of the Wilderness.