John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Waaaaay out in Eastern Oregon lies a number of wondrous places that are unknown to anyone outside the world of adventure. Eastern Oregon? Its one of the blank spots on the map; strictly grazing and farming land. However, within this part of the country are natural treasures such as the deepest canyon in the United States, spectacular fossil beds, and endless amounts of rock climbing areas. I would like to highlight the John Day Fossil Beds as a place you should sometime visit however far you may be.
|The appropriately named "Painted Hills" unit of the Park.|
The John Day Fossil Beds are well protected by the US National Park service and contain sites where active archeology is underway. Its an incredibly rich site for plant and animal specimens of the Cenezoic Era. While the scientific discoveries of the site may bore some, the sites themselves look artistic and designed. Perhaps that is why the monuments most famous site is known as the "Painted Hills"
The Painted Hills are hills that comprised of unique color stratifications that are hardly ever seen in nature. While these delicate shades of red, purple, orange and yellow correspond to geological eras and the events that happened within each, they are simply beautiful. Personally, it was amazing to see all these completely natural colors all gathered into one landscape. It was like a painter's pallet; in one scene, I could clearly see every shade of purple, blue, green, orange, red, yellow, brown and white. How often does that naturally occur? Despite its obscurity and remoteness, it is a location I highly recommend getting to some day
|The full spectrum of Color in a single landscape|
If you are scientifically-inclined, the monument also has a museum and a few active sites where you can see real fossils. In the same "Painted Hills Unit" is a spot known as "Leaf Hill" which literally contains thousands of fossilized leaves of ancient trees. Many are still there too; I managed to spot 10-12 in a short hike around it. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is part of the park and contains exhibits and fossils that have been found in the monument. It is a great place to learn about prehistoric America.
So, the John Day Fossil Beds are about as far away from anything as you can get. Bend, Oregon is the closest city to the monument and its still a haul. I won't post the full rundown of directions, but basically you head north from Bend, Oregon to Redmond via Highway 97. From there you take highway 126 all the way to highway 26 and continue to the small town of Mitchell. From there, its about 9 miles further on highway 26. Again, if you need more specific directions, feel free to message me.
Read. Plan. Get Out There!