DescriptionIn north-central Oregon, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument comprises 14,000 acres in three units: the Sheep Rock Unit, 7 miles northwest of Dayville on US 26; the Clarno Unit, 20 miles west of Fossil on SR 218; and the Painted Hills Unit, 9 miles northwest of Mitchell off US 26. The fossil beds contain a variety of plant and animal fossils, and each unit displays different colored geological formations.
Fossil collecting is prohibited without a research permit, but many other activities are available. Hiking and picnicking are popular, and wildlife and wildflowers are abundant throughout the park. The John Day River offers trout fishing in season. Serving as the main visitor center, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center has a fossil museum and is 2 miles north of the junction of SR 19 and US 26 in the Sheep Rock Unit, next to monument headquarters at the James Cant Ranch; the ranch house has a museum highlighting the area's human history. Park open daily dawn-dusk. Visitor center open daily 9-5, Memorial Day-Labor Day; 10-5, rest of year. Phone for ranch house hours. Free. Phone (541) 987-2333.