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Hidden Gem: Fossil Springs Wilderness


Move over, Hawaii: Waterfalls and emerald green pools of water aren’t just for tropical locales anymore. For a true desert oasis, head to Fossil Springs Wilderness, 86 miles south of Flagstaff.

The falls at Fossil Creek. Photo by
The falls at Fossil Springs.

Photo by

A short 1.2-mile hike will take you past a series of small waterfalls and pools, until you reach the main attraction, which seems to appear out of nowhere, gushing 20,000 gallons a minute from a series of springs at the bottom of a 1,600-foot canyon, according to the Coconino National Forest site. 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.

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