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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument-Clarno Unit

Shaniko-Fossil Highway, Fossil, Oregon 97830 USA

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“colorful rock formation displaying science”

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a 14,000 acre (57 km²) park near Kimberly, Oregon. Located within the John Day River Basin, this U.S. National Monument is world-renowned for its well-preserved, remarkably complete record of fossil plants and animals, a record that spans more than 40 of the 65 million years of the Cenozoic Era (also known as the Age of Mammals and Flowering Plants). The monument is divided into three units: Painted Hills (named for the delicately colored stratifications) northwest of Mitchell, Sheep Rock which is northwest of Dayville, and Clarno Unit (pictured above) which is 20 miles west of Fossil. Blue Basin is a volcanic ash bowl transformed into claystone by eons of erosion, colored pastel blue by minerals.

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Reviewed by

  • 7 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
August 25, 2014

Two short trails with many signs explaining the rock formations and fossils. Definitely worth seeing. Note that the map on this site shows Clarno Unit several miles east of where it is actually located (which is 20 miles west of Fossil as it states in the description). We picked up a map at City Hall in Condon that was really helpful in finding our way around. We didn't have cell service after we left Condon.

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Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
May 01, 2018
Rated 5.0

A couple easy little hikes. There is a fossil trail and a good hike up. Signs talking about through time and the formation of this amazing rock formation.

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Travel Oregon

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  • 5,384 Reviews
  • 2,202 Helpful
June 17, 2015

The Clarno Unit is located 18 miles west of the town of Fossil. The Palisades are the most prominent landform. 44 million years ago a series of volcanic mudflows, swept up and preserved a diverse assortment of plants and animals that inhabited a near-tropical forest. Tiny four-toed horses, huge rhino-like brontotheres, crocodilians, and meat-eating creodonts that once roamed ancient jungles are now found in the rocks of the Clarno Unit, as well as an incredibly diverse range of plant life. Leaves, fruits, nuts, seeds, and petrified wood from 173 species of trees, vines, shrubs, and other plants have been found here thus far.
The modern vegetation is typical of Central Oregon's near-desert environment with a variety of grasses, sagebrush and juniper.

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument-Clarno Unit

Shaniko-Fossil Highway
Fossil, Oregon
97830 USA

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