Visited: August 2019
Accommodations: Leaving Crater Lake and heading to Idaho
Duration: 4 hours, could spend a whole day here.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument was one of the greatest unplanned stops on any of our National Park trips. Luckily we did all the things we set out to do at Crater Lake National Park so we had time to stop and explore this gem. We left Crater Lake in the morning hours and got to the Painted Hills Unit of John Day Fossil Beds around lunch time. This worked out perfectly. There was a small Visitor Center with an awesome picnic area for us. We grabbed our Junior Ranger Booklets here, along with a stuffed hell pig you will be graced with seeing in the next few park stops (until Gunnar loses it). No worries it was found and we tracked it down once we were home and unpacked, more on that in later blog posts.
We ate our lunch, worked on the booklets and then explored the Painted Hills, these were gorgeous!!
John Day Fossil Beds consists of 3 units; Painted Hills Unit, Sheep Rock Unit and Clarno Unit.
We didn’t visit the Clarno Unit because not much of that area is open to the public. I will cover the Painted Hills and Sheep Rock Unit.
An unbelievable display of color splashed hills in the middle of Oregon.
Sheep Rock Unit
Included in the Sheep Rock Unit is The James Cant Ranch, Foree Area, and the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center and Visitor Center.
The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center and Visitor Center has over 60,000 specimens that includes a working laboratory you can view. You walk through 50 million years of the Age of Mammals. This place was amazing!! There is a fun scavenger hunt to do here in the Junior Ranger booklet. Here is a sneak peak below.
Junior Rangers badges were all gone when we arrived. We had to send the books in when we returned home and wait for them to send them back to us. Here are our passports and badges below.
What an amazing stop to learn about the Fossils in this area and to see some beautiful landscape that we weren’t expecting. Off to Idaho, stop back for some more National Park Service sites.