Description - The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is unique because of its well-
preserved and diverse fossil specimens. The time period of the specimens
found here spans 40 million years and is the most complete of any site in the
Copyright: National Park Service
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
- This facility is comprised of three units. The Sheep Rock area, which lies east of the others, consists of the Visitor Center and Fossil Museum. The historic Cant Ranch site now houses the museum and visitors can tour the structure and the grounds. You'll find indoor and outdoor exhibits on geology and paleontology at the Cant Ranch. The Painted Hills and Clarno Units of the Monument contain outdoor exhibits pertaining to geology and paleontology. Dirt trails lead to dig sites in all three areas of the park, where visitors will find interpretive panels explaining the finds.
Recreation - At the Sheep Rock Visitor Center visitors can learn about the fossil records found in the area and gain an understanding of the significance of the site. Walking to dig sites is an activity that can be enjoyed at each of the three units. Wildflower identification in spring is a popular pursuit at the Painted Hills unit. Call ahead for blooming information.
Climate - Temperatures at the John Day Fossil Beds vary from extremely cold to extremely hot depending on the season. Spring is the wettest time of the year when rainfall averages 15 inches in a few months. The climate is semi arid with mountains and valleys of sagebrush and juniper, and ponderosa pine forests at higher altitudes. Recommended summer clothing includes sturdy hiking footwear for trails, sun-hat, sunglasses and water bottle.
All three units of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument lie in north central Oregon. The Sheep Rock Unit, lies at the intersection of State Routes 26 and 19, eight miles west of Dayville, Oregon. The Painted Hills Unit is located ten miles west of Mitchell, Oregon, on State Route 26. The Clarno Unit lies 18 miles west of Fossil, Oregon, on State Route 218.