Just an hour from John Day, the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument features exhibits at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center and at the Cant Ranch Museum.

Check the Monument’s website at www.nps.gov/joda for open days and hours for these facilities.

More adventurous visitors may want to learn about the region’s past by hiking the spectacular country of the Monument.

Trails are open every day of the year during daylight hours.

Be forewarned: There is little shade available on the trails. Hiking early in the day, as well as bringing plentiful water, will make hiking much more safe and enjoyable.

Here’s a look at some of the popular trails:

Story In Stone Trail

[1/2 mile round trip]

Erosion created several colorful badland exposures that are visible along the path and in the distance. This level trail is wide and mostly paved.

Flood Of Fire Trail

[1/2 mile round trip]

This trail ends at a dramatic cliff face and a view down to the colorful geologic formations along the river valley. It is a gradual climb with a few stair steps.

Island In Time Trail

[1.3 mile round trip]

This trail follows the canyon floor and gently ascends through blue-green canyon walls. Exhibits and fossil replicas along the trail tell the story of the fossil landscape. This trail has 220 feet of mostly gradual elevation gain.

Dog owners please note: There are 13 short bridges on the Island In Time trail. They have a rough metal surface that dogs dislike. Dogs may need to be carried across these bridges.

River Trail

[0.6 mile round trip]

Starting at the end of the Cant Ranch parking lot, this trail passes through the historic fields and orchard down to the John Day River. Fruit may be collected when in season.

Blue Basin Overlook Trail

[3.25 mile loop]

Climbing to an overlook of Blue Basin, this trail provides breathtaking views down into steep badlands and grand vistas of the John Day River valley. Clay surfaces are very slippery when wet. This strenuous trail includes 760 feet of elevation gain.

Sheep Rock Overlook Trail

[1/2 mile round trip]

Starting at the front gate of the Cant Ranch House, this mostly level trail ends at an overlook with a view down to the river and Sheep Rock high above.

Additional trails are available at the Painted Hills and Clarno Units of the Monument. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/joda or stop by the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center.

   

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