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“Interesting contrast to SW fossil beds” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in John Day
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Glendora, Ca
Level Contributor
72 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Interesting contrast to SW fossil beds”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 5, 2012

The land looks so much like southwest fossil beds in the Four Corners area. Great visitor center (see both, including the original building just up the road).

Visited June 2012
Thank OGoneAgain2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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315 reviews from our community

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Yakima, Washington, United States
Level Contributor
19 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“First time for my wife to the Painted Hills!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 5, 2012

I had been here several times but all my wife had ever seen of it were my photos. I kept telling her of the beauty and that my photos didn't do it justice. From the moment she first saw it I could see the joy in her eyes. This is one of those places that really needs to bee seen in real life and not just from someone elses point of view! One series of 23 shots I had printed up in an 8' panorama. I don't know what I am goung to do with it but I'll figure ot something.I have shared my photos with others since we returned and already have others planning trip to the Painted Hills and Fossil Beds.Take plenty of memory cards and extra batteries and take your time exploring the beauty of the area. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS SIGHT!

Visited July 2012
Thank Dave B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Beaverton, Oregon
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Painted Hills are a must”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 3, 2012

Great National Monument, takes a while to drive between the three units but each were worthwhile. Highlight of the trip was the Painted Hills, amazing and some great short hikes to do. Bring lots of water and be sure to watch for snakes. Also be sure to top off you gas tank in one of the close by towns.

Visited August 2012
Thank Ted A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dayton, Ohio
Level Contributor
60 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2012

We stayed in Fossil and traveled to two of the three units. Painted Hills was remarkable. We also visited the paleontology center at the Sheep Rock unit which had some nice displays.

Visited July 2012
Thank Dalyman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Napa, California
Level Contributor
133 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 195 helpful votes
“O M G!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 16, 2012

The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument was OUTSTANDING and well worth the drives! It is spread out over three units in Eastern Oregon. My experience there was educational, awe inspiring, and a photographers dream! It is sure to delight both old, young, and everyone in between! It has a little of everything - surreal painted hills, fossils, a historical ranch, and trails for hikers of all levels with the most amazing views and photo opportunities. All three units offer something different but yet, all are related.

None of the units are near any large towns and there are limited hotel choices. I decided on the town of Prineville. It was still 80 miles away from both the Sheep Rock Unit where the main visitor center is located and the Clarno Unit. However, it was only about 40 miles away from the Painted Hills unit. The drives to all three were scenic and easy. Definitely get gas before starting out! Gas stations were few and far between. I went to all three units during a two day period. Wear comfortable shoes to really see the beauty of it all and pack food and water.

Sheep Rock Unit - As stated above this is where the main visitor center is located. The visitor center had a great movie which is a great introduction to the area and it's history. Get both the visitor map and the hiking maps and talk to the rangers about your interests and what you would like to see especially if you have limited time. Check out the times for the ranger talks which are always enjoyable and informative. The Visitor Center also had an exhibit and interpretive center that is a must-see! There were hundreds of fossils, a timeline, and a paleontology lab. If you only see one thing at this unit then this would be it! I spent over one hour here alone. It is well put together and for lack of a better description - absolutely awesome!

Within walking distance of the visitor center (note: you can also drive here, it has a parking area) is the James Cant Ranch. A historic site of early settlers. It includes the house, the barn, misc smaller buildings, and old farm equipment and a trail. You are free to walk inside all of the buildings and anywhere outside. Photography is allowed everywhere. Definitely take the ranger tour. It lasted about 45 minutes and was very informative.

Further up the road is the Blue Basin Area with two trails. One easy and one a bit longer. The further you go in the more intense the blue hills become. Even the water in the streams were blue! There were interpretive signs and overlooks along the trails. Absolutely beautiful!

Clarno Unit - This unit was up North. There wasn't a ranger station but it did have restrooms and picnic areas. Maps were posted and showed the hiking trails. I did all three. The hardest being the Arch Trail but it took you hundreds of feet up. Make sure you have hiking or good walking shoes on because the trails are narrow and steep. There are interpretive signs on all the trails. Also ensure you bring lots of water especially if there during the afternoon. It was hot! I would recommend a minimum of two hours here.

Painted Hills Unit - I went here late in the afternoon and then again early in the morning specifically for the different light. I'm not sure which planet the Blue Basin area suggested to me but at the Painted Hills Unit I felt like I was on Mars! Gorgeous red and gold hills! Surreal landscapes and someplace I would love to photograph over and over especially in different seasons. There is a ranger station with restrooms and if you don't make it to the Sheep Rock Unit a map with trails is available. There were signs throughout the unit directing you to the different areas. I went to all of them. All were worth it! All the trails were easy and accessible! The Painted Cove trail even had a boardwalk which takes you up close and personal to the colorful hills.

I enjoyed all three units of this wonderful National Monument (I personally think it should be given "park" status)! I have visited numerous national parks and monuments throughout the US and all are wonderful and unique but the John Day Fossil NM is truly magical and has a little bit of everything from history to fossils to surreal hills that make you think you are no longer on Earth. I highly recommend it!

Visited June 2012
6 Thank WorldWanderer99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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