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Explore 40 Million Years Of History At John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

In central Oregon near the town the town of John Day, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a visible record of prehistoric plants and animals – all in colorful rock bands.

Exhibits and a working lab set the stage for an educational experience to remember. Here you will find a preserved fossil record which stretches back more than 40 million years – back when Oregon was a hot, wet semitropical place.

The park is divided into three units. Many of the most popular sites are in Sheep Rock. Great hikes include the Flood of Fire interpretive trail and the Island in Time Trail. The James Cant Ranch Historic District preserves the human history of the park, while the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center has fossils, an 18-minute educational film, and exhibits.

The Painted Hills unit has several trails – try the Carroll Rim Trail or the Painted Hills Overlook Trail. The third unit is called Clarno – here you can hike to see fossilized logs and up to the Clarno Arch. The Trail of the Fossils lets you see oodles of dino bones embedded in rock.

Services are scarce – make sure to fill up your gas tank and bring plenty of food and water.