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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, John Day

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John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a U.S. National Monument in Wheeler and Grant counties in east-central Oregon. Located within the John Day River basin and managed by the National Park Service, the park is known for its well-preserved layers of fossil plants and mammals that lived in the region between the late Eocene, about 45 million years ago, and the late Miocene, about 5 million years ago. The monument consists of three geographically separate units: Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno.The units cover a total of 13,944acre of semi-desert shrublands, riparian zones, and colorful badlands. About 210,000 people frequented the park in 2016 to engage in outdoor recreation or to visit the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center or the James Cant Ranch Historic District.Before the arrival of Euro-Americans in the 19th century, the John Day basin was frequented by Sahaptin people who hunted, fished, and gathered roots and berries in the region. After road-building made the valley more accessible, settlers established farms, ranches, and a few small towns along the river and its tributaries. Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the fossils in the region since 1864, when Thomas Condon, a missionary and amateur geologist, recognized their importance and made them known globally. Parts of the basin became a National Monument in 1975.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • What a nice surprise to discover that a new visitor center had replaced the small confines of the historic house that once housed all the artifacts. The new facility has a wonderful display of exhibit...  more »
  • Great time at the fossil beds. It is a really nice set up. Unfortunately it was very windy that day, but we toughed it out. The visitors center is really nice with very helpful and friendly staff.  more »
  • We learned so much this weekend that we don't look at rocks in the same way anymore. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is a fossil museum, and I would recommend starting your trip to the Fossil Be...  more »