Fossil Beds

Hikers reach the trail’s end at the Blue Basin’s Island in Time journey are treated to a spectacular view of blue-green claystone at the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is increasing recreational access.

The National Park Service is working service wide with federal, state and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning May 15, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument will reopen access to:

Clarno Unit: Trail of Fossils, Clarno Arch trail, Geologic Time trail and all picnic areas.

Painted Hills Unit: Painted Hills Overlook trail, Carrol Rim trail, Painted Clove trail, Leaf Hill trail, Red Scar Knoll trail and all picnic area.

Sheep Rock Unit: Island in Time trail, Blue Basin Overlook trail, Flood of Fire trail, Story in Stone trail, Cant Ranch trails, Mascall Overlook and all picnic areas.

With public health in mind, the Thomas Condon Paleontology and Visitor Center and Painted Hills Contact Station remain temporarily closed.

Superintendent Patrick Gamman stated, “As we reopen the monument’s outdoor spaces, join us in the new campaign #RecreateResponsibly by continuing to keep social distancing, know before you go, and pack it in and pack it out. Have a safe and enjoyable visit to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.”

When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice leave no trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

Virtual tours are available at

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.