Bull Pen Trailhead
Located at the base of West Clear Creek Canyon, the 7.5-mile Bull Pen Trail wanders along the creek for several miles before exiting the canyon on the north side at Blodgett Basin. Remote and beautiful, West Clear Creek will not disappoint those looking to leave civilization behind. Prepare to wade the stream at several locations and keep an eye out for thunderstorms and flash floods.
Grief Hill Trailhead
Grief Hill was one of the earliest entry points for settlers and military units coming from Prescott, bound for the Verde Valley. Treacherous and steep, it was also the site of several ambushes by Yavapai and Apache warriors attempting to stem the invasion of their homeland. The actual trail goes east from the trailhead, rounding Hull Hill before heading up into the Black Hills.
Chasm Creek Trailhead
Steep, rugged and listed in several trail guides as “Difficult,” the Chasm Creek Trail leads into Cedar Bench Wilderness, one of the least visited of Arizona’s many wilderness areas. It is widely believed that Chasm Creek was the entry point for one of the earliest visits to the Valley, when in 1864 Territorial Governor John Goodwin came to the Verde River looking for a spot to locate the state capitol.
Copper Canyon Trailhead
Copper Canyon Trail is a multi-use trail that runs from the Verde Rim to the Valley floor. Accessible to OHV’s, horseback rider, mountain bikers and hikers, the trail follows the same path used by thousands of early settlers. A new trailhead located just off Salt Mine Road is equipped with picnic ramadas, restrooms, and OHV loading ramps.
Located just off 89A at the summit of the Black Hills, Woodchute Trail leads to the 7,834-foot summit of Woodchute Mountain, the highest peak in the Black Hills. The trail is level until reaching Woodchute Tank, where is begins a steep assent to the top of the flat-top peak. When it eventually winds out of the forest you are treated to a bird’s-eye view of the Verde Valley, the Sedona red rocks and the distant San Francisco Peaks.
Nelson Place is the preferred entry point to Pine Mountain Wilderness Area and a favorite for hikers and backpackers. It is accessed via Forest Road 68, also known as the Dugas Road, just ten miles south of Camp Verde off Interstate 17. The trail leads from Nelson Place, the last spot with reliable year around water, before ascending to the 6,814 summit of Pine Mountain. If you go in the spring, be prepared to witness an invasion of ladybugs, which often blanket high points along the rim.
Bell Trail Trailhead
Unquestionably one of the most visited and scenic trails in the area, the Bell Trail wanders along Wet Beaver Creek and its many deep and shady pools. Originally built to move cattle between the high country and the Valley floor, it is also the likely path by which the first Spanish visitors entered the valley in 1583, looking for gold.
Verde Rim Trail
The Verde Rim Trail runs along the spine of the 6,000-foot elevation ridgeline, looming south and west of the Verde River. The eight-mile trail runs from Pine Mountain north towards the Cedar Bench Wilderness and offers spectacular views of the rugged country through which the lower Verde River passes, as well as the Mazatzal Mountain to the east and the Bradshaw Mountains to the west.
Walker Basin Trail
Walker Basin is currently under consideration as a federally protected wilderness area. The trail, which takes off just east of Forest Road 618, south of the V Bar V Heritage Site, follows a historic cattle trail starting about 4,000 feet before ascending a 5,300 foot plateau. Walker Basin Trail is accessible by vehicle from either end offering an opportunity to hike it one way if you make arrangements drop a vehicle or get someone to pick you up.
The historic Mail Trail follows the route once ridden by mail raiders delivering mail to and from Camp Verde and Payson. The same route was used as early as the late 1860’s as a path from Fort Verde to Camp Reno on the Tonto Basin. The trail covers a section of that path from State Route 260 south to Fossil Creek. Bring water.
Cold Water Trail
Many authors have speculated that the Cold Water Trail was originally used by the military to transport men and supplies between Fort Verde (originally Camp Lincoln) and Fort McDowell. But there is little evidence to prove that was ever the case and, given the rough country through which it passes, more than enough evidence to prove it would have been nearly impassable. The 5.4-mile long trail begins at Brown Springs, south of Camp Verde, and climbs 2,500 feet to the Forest Road 68 on the Verde Rim.
Apache Maid Trail
Branching off the north side of the Bell Trail, about two miles from the trailhead, Apache Maid Trail leads hikers out of Beaver Creek Wilderness and onto the high plateau above. The trail ultimately leads to the fire lookout atop Apache Maid Mountain, but most hikers stop once the reach the plateau as the last 7.5 miles of the 10-mile long trail are often difficult to follow and there is no permanent water.
Towel Creek Trail
Towel Creek Trail is one of the few trails in the area that accesses the Verde River. Taking off from Fossil Springs Road (FR708), nine miles from its junction with State route 260, the trail follows a jeep path a couple of miles before descending Towel Creek to the river. Hikers are rewarded with the view of an ancient Sinaguan cliff dwelling on the north side of the trail, just prior to reaching the Verde River.
This six-mile long trail is another one of the difficult trails leading into the rugged but spectacular Cedar Bench Wilderness Area. Rising over 2,000 feet in 6 miles, the seldom used Oxbow Trail traverses the Gap Creek Drainage, a year around stream, on their way to the Verde Rim.
Verde River Recreation
Verde River Adventure Center
Sedona and the Verde Valley provide the perfect setting for outdoor adventure. Rated by USA Today as the ‘Most Beautiful Destination in America’, and split by the Verde River, the only Wild & Scenic River system in Arizona, the area is perfect for family vacations, romantic weekends, girlfriend getaways and spiritual journeys.
Sedona Adventure Tours is your guide to all of the best ways to experience this wonderland, which is just two hours north of Phoenix. Choose one of our popular itineraries or call us to create a custom tour just for you and your group. The only limitation is your imagination. Whether you are a long-time area resident, a new arrival or a visitor, Sedona Adventure Tours has a fun adventure waiting for you.
Verde River Hot Springs
The Verde River Hot Springs is the remains of an extensive hot-spring resort, with several pools still available for bathing. Verde Hot Spring was at one time a thriving resort complete with hotel and several baths. Today, all that remains is the foundation for the resort, one main pool, and several more in the cliffside. The main pool is located on the foundation of the resort, overlooking the Verde River.
The water in the main pool is about 98 degrees F and there is enough room for several people. The pool is also quite deep, allowing for bathing without having to crouch down as with many other springs. There is a small concrete-block room with a pool of water inside. There are also pools of hot-spring water in the cliffside, where small caves have been cut.
Wild and Scenic Fossil Creek
Fossil Creek, one of two “Wild and Scenic” rivers in Arizona, seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute out of a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600 foot deep canyon. Over the years these calcium laden waters have laid down huge deposits of a material called travertine. That rock-like substance encases whatever happens to fall into the streambed – forming the fossils for which the area is named.
Most people come to Fossil Creek to sunbathe, wade, hike and birdwatch. It’s also a great place to take photographs. The lushness of the riparian area strikes a sharp contrast to the brittle desert that surrounds it. While you’re here, keep an eye out for javelina. These Collie dog-sized wild pigs are plentiful in the area.
Wild and Scenic Verde River
The Verde River is one of Arizona’s only two Wild and Scenic Rivers, yet it remains relatively undiscovered as a recreational resource. That doesn’t mean this clear desert stream has little to offer. It’s an excellent place to fish for a number of species including trout, which the Arizona Game and Fish Department has begun stocking on a put and take basis. The Verde is also becoming more and more popular for recreational boating. Some stretches provide scenic canoing among long pools and manageable riffles. Other sections become exciting whitewater runs during the spring snow-melt or after late summer thunderstorms.
Verde River Access Points
The Verde River is accessible to day users, boaters and overnight campers along the entire stretch passing through the Verde Valley. Please respect private landowners and use the following sites.
Verde River Boating Guide
The links below take you to a three-part boating guide for the Verde River. Please keep in mind that the Verde River is susceptible to seasonal flooding, which can result in considerable changes to its course. Check with the Forest Service regarding current conditions.
Arizona Offroad Tours
We Specialize in Guided Arizona ATV Tours. Our tours take you through the Prescott National Forest. We are the only permitted company to offer you this guided ATV adventure through terrain many only see from a car window. Engulf yourself in the majestic beauty of the Prescott National Forest, the Verde Valley, Verde River & the exquisite Red Rocks of Sedona on an Arizona Offroad Tours excursion. On our ATV tour, we will set out on an exciting adventure through rugged desert and mountain terrains. Take-in the stunning West while navigating your own ATV. Feel the Southwestern history as you drive through high chaparrals, over desert terrain, across plateaus, through seasonal creeks and creek beds, and hidden trails to extraordinary views that will blow your mind!
P.O. Box 3773, Camp Verde, AZ 86322 • (928) 451-1777 • Website
Birding on the Verde
The Verde Valley as a whole and the area surrounding Camp Verde in particular is one of the country’s premier bird watching locales. With an abundance of water in an landscape that is largely arid, the valley serves as both an ideal host to resident species and a popular stopping off point for migratory flocks. Over 300 species have been sighted along the Verde River and its tributaries. This year, 2013, the count stands at 198.
Arizona State Parks
Fort Verde State Historic Park
Experience life through the eyes of a frontier soldier at Fort Verde State Historic Park. The fort was a base for General Crook’s U.S. Army scouts and soldiers in the 1870s and 1880s. From 1865 – 1891 Camp Lincoln, Camp Verde and Fort Verde were home to officers, doctors, families, enlisted men, and scouts. The park is the best-preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona. Several of the original buildings still stand and living history programs are scheduled periodically, giving visitors a glimpse into Arizona’s history.
Today visitors can experience three historic house museums, all furnished in the 1880s period, that are listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. The former Administration building houses the Visitor Center with interpretive exhibits, period artifacts from military life, and history on the Indian Scouts and Indian Wars era. The park offers picnic tables, restrooms, RV and tour bus parking, and is ADA Accessible.
This park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The park will be open from 9am to 5pm Thu-Mon.
Verde River Greenway
The Greenway encompasses nearly 480 acres and is six miles long. The 3,300 foot elevation means mild temperatures for hiking along the Verde, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, or just wading in the cool water. Life along the river changes with the season, giving visitors a glimpse of great blue heron, black hawks, coyotes, raccoons, mule deer, beavers, ducks, frogs, and toads. The Verde River and surrounding riparian corridor support nearly twenty threatened or endangered species including river otter, southwestern bald eagles, southwestern willow flycatchers, and lowland leopard frogs.
Rocking River State Park
Located just five miles south of downtown Camp Verde, the 204-acre Rockin’ River State Park was purchased by Arizona State Parks in 2008. Currently it is under development. No date has been set for an opening.
Red Rock State Park
Red Rock State Park is a 286 acre nature preserve and environmental education center with stunning scenery. Trails throughout the park wind through manzanita and juniper to reach the rich banks of Oak Creek. Green meadows are framed by native vegetation and hills of red rock. The creek meanders through the park, creating a diverse riparian habitat abounding with plants and wildlife. This riparian habitat provides the setting and the opportunity for the park to offer a focus on environmental education.
Red Rock offers a variety of special programs for school groups and private groups. There are a number of daily and weekly park events. Red Rock State Park is open 7 days a week from 8 am – 5 pm. The Visitor Center is open 9 am – 4:30 pm daily.
Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park, originally the Pendley Homestead, is a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon.The park is named after the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the homestead. Visitors may slide down a slick natural water chute or wade and sun along the creek. The swim area is located on National Forest land which is jointly managed by Arizona State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service. Together these areas have seen the making of many Hollywood movies such as “Broken Arrow” (1950) with James Stewart, “Drum Beat” (1954) with Alan Ladd and Charles Bronson, “Gun Fury” (1953) with Rock Hudson and Donna Reed, and a scene from “Angel and the Badman” (1946) with John Wayne.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a beautiful park located in the Riparian area of the Verde Valley. The park offers camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rents Camping Cabins.The developed portion of Dead Horse Ranch State Park covers 423 acres. The 3,300 foot elevation accounts for the mild temperatures that are ideal for camping, mountain biking in the Coconino National Forest, hiking along the Verde River, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, or just wading in the cool water.
Jerome State Historic Park
Jerome State Historic Park is a state park of Arizona, USA, featuring the Douglas Mansion, built in 1916 by a family of influential mining entrepreneurs in Jerome, Arizona, a mining region in the northeast of the Black Hills, east Yavapai County. A museum is located in the old Douglas Mansion.
Jerome State Historic Park reopened on October 14, 2010 after being closed since February 27, 2009 because of budget cuts and the need to repair the historic mansion. Renovation and stabilization were funded by a state heritage grant and donations from the Douglas family. The park is open on a five-day schedule thanks to additional funding raised by Yavapai County, the city of Jerome, and the Jerome Historical Society.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument features well-preserved cliff-dwellings. They were built and used by the Pre-Columbian Sinagua people, northern cousins of the Hohokam, around 700 AD. It was occupied from approximately 1125-1400 AD, and occupation peaked around 1300 AD. Several Hopi clans trace their roots to immigrants from the Montezuma Castle/Beaver Creek area. Clan members periodically return to their former homes for religious ceremonies. When European Americans discovered them in the 1860s, they named them for the Aztec emperor (of Mexico) Montezuma II, due to mistaken beliefs that the emperor had been connected to their construction. Neither part of the monument’s name is correct. The Sinaqua dwelling was abandoned 100 years before Montezuma was born and the Dwellings were not a castle. It was more like a “prehistoric high rise apartment complex”.
Montezuma Well National Monument
Montezuma Well, a detached unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument, is a natural limestone sinkhole near Rimrock, Arizona through which some 1,400,000 US gallons of water flow each day through two underground springs. It is located 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Montezuma Castle. The well measures in at 368 feet (112 m) across and 55 feet (17 m) deep. The water is highly carbonated and contains high levels of arsenic. At least five endemic species live (only) in the Well: a diatom, a springtail, a water scorpion, the amphipod, and the leech — the most endemic species in any spring in the Southwestern United States. It is also home to the Montezuma Well springsnail. Montezuma Well’s outflow has been used for irrigation since the 8th century. Part of a prehistoric canal is preserved at the picnic ground, and portions of the original Sinagua canal are still in use today.
Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot is a small national monument, one of several sites south of Flagstaff where the remains of dwellings of the 12th century Sinagua Indians are preserved. Unlike the single cliff house of Montezuma Castle 20 miles southeast, Tuzigoot comprises a cluster of buildings, on top of a small sandstone ridge close to the Verde River valley.. There are examples of local cacti and shrubs, and a short wheelchair-accessible loop path that leads up the hill, round some of the ruins to the summit and then back to the carpark.
Agua Fria National Monument
This expansive mosaic of semi-desert area, cut by ribbons of valuable riparian forest, offers one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. In addition to the rich record of human history, the monument contains outstanding biological resources.Pueblo la Plata showcases a major settlement of stone masonry pueblos. To visit la Plata, travel 8.3 miles on Bloody Basin Road from the entrance of the national monument. Turn north and follow the dirt road for approximately one mile. A high clearance vehicle is recommended. There is lots to see and do within the Monument, depending on the season. Hiking, viewing cultural sites, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, hunting (big-game and upland game-bird), scenic drives, and four-wheel driving (off-road travel is not allowed) are just a sampling of activities you can enjoy.
West Clear Creek Wilderness Area
West Clear Creek has carved a narrow canyon up to 2,000 feet deep extending 30 miles from its headwaters on the Coconino Plateau to its confluence with the Verde River. For those who wish to leave the world behind, West Clear Creek Wilderness the place to go. But unless you are an experienced climber, swimmer and hiker, plan to limit your visit to the wide and wet lower four miles or the very upper reaches. In between is a world class canyoneering playground of deep pools, waterfalls and rugged cliffs.
Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness Area
Much like West Clear Creek, Wet Beaver Creek begins its journey on the Colorado Plateau then winds and carves its way to Verde River. Along the way are seven cliffs to descend and 23 pools. It is in every sense a spectacular yet forbidding place. The only trails, the Bell and Apache Maid, enter at the lower end and eventually leave the remote canyon. The upper end remains much as it was when the first Spanish expedition descended its northern flank in 1583. Whatever your taste in backcountry adventure may be, its riparian paradise is sure to please.
Pine Mountain Wilderness Area
Like many other wilderness areas in Arizona, Pine Mountain was created by an act of Congress in 1972. A “sky island” encased in a dense pine forest, Pine Mountain offers one of the state’s most spectacular views. From its 6,814-foot summit, located very near the geographic center of Arizona, visitors can see the San Francisco Peaks to the north, the Superstition Mountains to the South, the Mazatzal Mountains to the east and the Bradshaws to the West.
Cedar Bench Wilderness Area
The Cedar Bench Wilderness extends from the Verde River west to the summit of the Verde Rim, the dividing line between the Verde River and Agua Fria River watersheds. As wilderness areas go, it is perhaps the least visited in the state. There are at least nine trails that cross or skirt the wilderness area—some well-maintained—some a challenge to follow. But all offer a spectacular view of the lower Verde River Valley. And with the exception of the Chalk Creek Trail, all are listed as “difficult.”
Woodchute Wilderness Area
Woodchute Mountain is the highest point in the Black Hills, the long ridge of mountains that forms the Verde Valley’s southern and western border. A century ago the original old growth forest that covered the mountain was clear cut to provide timber for the mines in Jerome. Today it is covered in a second growth pine forest that makes for a shady and cool place to hike when the valley floor begins to warm. It also offers one of the best views around of the Verde Valley, extending from Perkinsville in the Verde Canyon to Camp Verde at its lower end.
Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness Area
For those headed north from Camp Verde towards Sedona’s spectacular red rocks, Red Rock Secret Mountain offers the best red rock experience around. Composing much of the rugged landscape to the north of Sedona, the wilderness area offers great views, secret hideaways and a handful of sandstone arches. Together with the neighboring Sycamore Canyon Wilderness it offers nearly 100,000 acres of isolation.
Munds Mountain Wilderness Area
The smallest of the three wilderness area that span Sedona’s skyline, Munds Mountain was among four other wilderness areas created in 1984, setting aside nearly 150,000 acres. But its size would belie the number of visitors that tread its trails every year. Because it also comprises Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock, and because it comes within feet of a state highway, Munds Mountain wilderness sees literally hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. Named for a pioneer rancher who homesteaded the area in the 1880’s, Munds Mountain also offers a seldom visited back country of slick rock, sandstone spires and, of course, unique vistas.
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area
The Verde Valley’s version of the Grand Canyon, Sycamore Canyon is the state’s oldest protected and primitive landscape. Cutting through many of the same formations seen in the Grand Canyon, Sycamore Canyon exposes over 400 million years of geologic history. Woven among the rock layers are tales of Spanish gold, a legacy of Arizona’s earliest cattlemen and the story of a grizzly bear hunter named Jack Hooker who once used one of the canyons remote cabins to convalesce after being mauled. There aren’t any grizzly bears in Sycamore Canyon today, but there are plenty of other sights to see.
Fossil Springs Wilderness Area
The millions of gallons of 72ºF water that gush from the springs every hour have created a lush environment which supports over 30 types of trees and bushes and over 100 species of birds. The Canyon walls near the springs contain small fossils from an ancient sea that washed over the area 350 million years ago. The wood flume, built in 1916, used to supply water from the springs to the Irving and Childs Power Plants which relied on its water to turn their power generating turbines. Any further intrusions are now prohibited since the area became the 12,000-acre Fossil Springs Wilderness in 1984.
Prescott National Forest
Comprised of about 1.25 million acres, the Prescott borders three other National Forests in Arizona: Kaibab, Coconino, and Tonto. Roughly half of the forest lies west of the city of Prescott, Arizona, in the Juniper, Santa Maria, Sierra Prieta, and Bradshaw Mountains. The other half of the Forest lies east of Prescott and takes in the Black Hills, Mingus Mountain, Black Mesa, and the headwaters of the Verde River.
Coconino National Forest
The Coconino National Forest is one of the most diverse National Forests in the country with landscapes ranging from the famous Red Rocks of Sedona to Ponderosa Pine Forests, to alpine tundra. Explore mountains and canyons, fish in forest lakes and wade in lazy creeks and streams.
Verde Ranger Station
Information, permits, interpretive displays, LEED green building with solar panels and monitor, free motor vehicle use maps; AZ Natural Association sales of forest maps, t-shirts, nature books, and novelty items.The Verde Ranger Station is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 – 4:30 except on national holidays.
Red Rock Ranger Station
The volunteer staff is knowledgeable and friendly and can provide hiking information. A Forest Service Ranger is on duty at all times to help with National Parks Passes, Senior Passes, information on our National Parks, etc. The well-equipped gift shop, sponsored by the Arizona Natural History Association, features hiking books and souvenirs. The Visitor Center is open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm seven days a week and most holidays.