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    John Day Fossil Beds

    National Monument Oregon

Sheep Rock Trails

Map of the Sheep Rock Unit

Trails are listed from north to south. All lengths listed are round trip.


Foree Area

Flood of Fire (¼ mile) This gravel trail ascends a small ridge to a viewpoint overlooking the John Day River Valley and a colorful rock formation similar to Cathedral Rock.

Story in Stone (¼ mile) This trail skirts above a small basin of blue-green claystone. The formation contains fossils of animals that lived here 25 to 30 million years ago. While the trail is partially paved, it does not meet accessibility standards.


Blue Basin Area

Island in Time (1 mile) This gravel trail ascends to an amphitheater carved out of the blue-green claystones of the John Day Formation. The volcanic ash, now turned to stone, contains a rich variety of vertebrate fossils. Interpretive signs and fossil replicas are located along the trail.

Blue Basin Overlook (3 mile) This loop trail brings you to a spectacular vista overlooking the John Day River Valley. It is dusty in places and may be impassable in wet weather. Moderate to strenuous with a 600 ft. elevation gain (and loss.)


James Cant Ranch

River Trail (½ mile) Accessible to those in wheelchairs, this trail leads one down to the John Day River from the Cant Ranch parking lot. Signs along the trail point out both natural and cultural features.

Sheep Rock Overlook Trail (½ mile) Starting at the front gate to the Cant House, this trail ends at an overlook with a great view of the valley and the river.


Thomas Condon Paleontology Center

Thomas Condon Overlook Trail (¼ mile) This trail ends at an overlook with a great view of the valley. It begins at the south end of the parking lot.


Mascall Overlook

Mascall Formation Overlook (300 feet) Sweeping views of the John Day Valley and Picture Gorge can be seen from the overlook.

Did You Know?

Image of a cedar hairstreak butterfly

The wildflowers at the Painted Hills provide abundant sources of food for the monument's many butterfly species.