Road Trip to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

June 21, 2016

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Clarno Unit

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Clarno Unit

The rising sun found us enroute to the Painted Hills of Oregon, but first we stopped in at the Clarno Unit.  Both are parts of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  (We never did get to the third part, the Sheep Rock Unit, which has a paleontology center with exhibits.)

I thought the scenery of this part of Oregon was quite beautiful.  Once we left U.S. Hwy. 97 near Antelope, Oregon, we were on a curving, relatively deserted road, dipping up and down the hills.  As the daylight brightened, we could see long vistas — rounded hills dappled with green trees in the foreground backed by more dry hills as far as the eye could see.

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We arrived at Clarno around 6 o’clock in the morning.  Needless to say, we had the only car in the parking area.  I was expecting to see fossils, but except for one specimen, they were not singled out by signs nor on display, so I just enjoyed the landscape.  I walked the very short Arch Trail up to the foot of the palisades cliff formation.  At the end I saw some fossilized logs and a high circular arch in the stone.

Palisades cliff formation

Palisades cliff formation

View from the Arch Trail.  You can see our car in the parking area.

View from the Arch Trail. You can see our car in the parking area.

View from the Arch Trail, Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

View from the Arch Trail, Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Another view

Another view

Fossilized logs

Fossilized logs

Delicate arch at the end of the short trail

Delicate arch at the end of the short trail

The sole fossil in evidence on the Trail of Fossils, Clarno Unit

The sole fossil in evidence on the Trail of Fossils, Clarno Unit

We saw more fossils later in the day along the Leaf Hill Trail in the Painted Hills.  We saw a hill where thousands of fossils have been excavated.  These few were  on display there:

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The park literature said, “Within the hills and valleys of Eastern Oregon is one of the richest fossil beds on Earth, an ancient record spanning most of the Age of Mammals. . . . remarkable is the great number and variety of fossils.”  I will take the park’s word for it.

Later we drove through the town of Fossil and stopped for coffee.  It’s a very small town, but it does have a retirement center — good to know we fossils have a place to live out our old age!

 

 

 

 

One Response to “Road Trip to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument”

  1. Elisa Says:

    beautiful yay still very excited about seeing these!


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