Best Swimming Hole Phoenix 2011 - Fossil Springs
Bummed you can't hit Slide Rock State Park because the fecal bacteria counts are too high? Not us. In fact, we won't dip a toe in Sedona's cesspool, even when the rangers say it's okay. Neither should you. Not as long as Arizona still has places like Fossil Springs to enjoy. The swimming hole on Fossil Creek north of Payson is fairly far from a trailhead or road, which is probably what helps keep this spot so pure — or at least free of used diapers. You might catch some teenagers sipping tallboys under the cottonwood trees that shade the rocks surrounding this cool, deep pool, but it's a little too far for most families hauling giant coolers — which is what keeps it nice and fairly clean. There's a back way, but we recommend the pleasant four-mile trail from the ridge down through the canyon. It's just outside Strawberry, so the drive is pretty short and the swim-in cave, which reminds us a little of the famed Playboy Mansion grotto, will impress even a true swimming-hole snob (read: the kind of person who wouldn't dare submerse themselves in the filthy waters of Sedona).