John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Quick Facts

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Oregon

(541) 987-2333

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

A visit to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is like taking a journey into ancient Oregon. Whether you tour the museum at Sheep Rock, hike a trail at the Painted Hills, or picnic at Clarno, Oregon's exciting past will be revealed. Within the heavily eroded volcanic deposits of the scenic John Day River basin is a well-preserved fossil record of plants and animals. This remarkably complete record, spanning more than 40 of the 65 million years of the Cenozoic Era (the "Age of Mammals and Flowering Plants") is world-renowned. Authorized October 26, 1974, and established in 1975, this 14,000 acre park is divided into three widely separated units; the Sheep Rock Unit, Painted Hills Unit, and Clarno Unit. There are many natural areas both inside and outside the monument boundaries that offer beautiful scenery and places to hike, drive or bicycle.

Map of John Day

Latitude, Longitude: 44.556240, -119.643779

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Activities

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    This 14,000 acre park is divided into three widely separated units; the Sheep Rock Unit, Painted Hills Unit, and Clarno Unit. There are many natural areas both inside and outside the monument boundaries that offer beautiful scenery and places drive.

  • Camping

    Camping is not allowed in any of the units of the park, and there are no facilities in the park which provide lodging or food.

  • Fishing

    It is legal to fish in the monument and elsewhere on public lands along the John Day River without the proper Oregon state fishing license. Smallmouth bass and rainbow trout are abundant.

  • Hiking

    There are several Hiking Trails within the monument. The short hikes in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument provide a close-up look at the area's beautiful color-splashed hills and fascinating fossil beds. The Painted Hills Overlook Trail is a 1.0-mile out-and-back affair that takes you to the top of an overlook with views of the colorful surrounding hills. If you want more of an adventure, trek 1.5 miles to the top of Carroll Rim, where you'll have a sweeping view of the painted hills and surrounding high-desert country.

  • Picnicking

    There are many natural areas both inside and outside the monument boundaries that offer beautiful scenery for a picnic. Whether you tour the museum at Sheep Rock, hike a trail at the Painted Hills, or picnic at Clarno, Oregon's exciting past will be revealed.

Seasonality/Weather

Park trails, overlooks, and picnic areas are open seven days a week during daylight hours. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is open daily, 8:30-4:30.

Park Partners

Directions

Driving

The Visitor Center at the Sheep Rock Unit is located on Highway 19 between the towns of Dayville and Kimberly, 2 miles from the junction of Highway 26 and Highway 19.

The Painted Hills Unit is located 9 miles northwest of of the town of Mitchell, just off Highway 26. There is no visitor center at this unit.

The Clarno Unit is located 20 miles west of the town of Fossil. along Highway 218. There is no visitor center at this unit.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(541) 987-2333

Road conditions

(800) 977-6368

Links