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“Beautiful landscape, excellent interpretive centre”

Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in John Day
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed June 12, 2012

We visited this national monument on our way across Oregon. We stopped at the Painted Hills unit and at the interpretive centre at the Sheep Rock unit.

The geology of the Painted Hills has created a landscape unlike anything I have ever seen before. The hills are vivid red and gold, an almost unreal scene until you read the excellent information displays which explain the remarkable geological history of the region.

At the Sheep Rock interpretive centre, there is a superb exhibit which will delight young and old alike. Combining displays of fossils from the region with giant dioramas, the exhibit describes the natural history of the region over the past 30 million years. Strange creatures roamed this land millions of years ago, when the climate was more like an African savannah, and they left their bones behind as fossils, so we can reconstruct what they looked like and how they lived.

Full marks to the National Park Service for the quality of the interpretive centre display, as good as anything I have seen.

2  Thank DavidInCambridgeUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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313 - 317 of 366 reviews

Reviewed May 31, 2012

The National Monument is spread out over 3 units miles apart so plan to spend at least a day (or two if you can) to fully appreciate everything to be seen here. The Painted Hills unit is a must as the formations and colors are unique and awe-inspiring. The Sheep Rock unit contains many natural sights worth seeing, great hikes and the Condon Paleontology Center which is very well done. We picnicked at the Cant Ranch which also has the original ranch house as an exhibit. Finally, the Clarno unit has hikes which are some fo the best natural interpretative trails we have ever seen.

Thank bogyOregon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 18, 2012

clean restrooms, knowledgable staff, fabulous displays, and nice hikes, some short (1/2 mile or less) some longer. We took a couple of the shorter ones.

Thank jeannecass
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2012

We headed to the John Day Fossil Beds for a spring break camping trip. We camped at the small but very pleasant BLM campsite -Big Bend -which is right on the river. We did Clarno first, then Sheep Rock and finally Painted Hills. We hiked almost every trail. The Blue Basin rim trail is not to be missed as is the trail to look back at the Painted Hills. This was a spectacular trip and well worth the "roughing it" some people would call it. We found this time of year, mid-April perfect. Warming days with cool nights. Go - you'll be glad you did!

2  Thank Pilgrim012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 15, 2012

John Day is split between three units
Sheep Rock is must see if only for the visitor center (allow an hour), Clarno is out of the way and smaller, visit if you like tree leaf fossils, Painted Hills was pretty and the hills are something never seen before. I think if you went late April, May when the wildflowers were in bloom it would be better. All have trails varying from 1/4 mile to 3 miles. Went on all except Blue Basin in Foree area of Sheep Rock. When ranger described it as "brutal"t moved off of the list

Thank Maithean
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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