Sheep Rock Trails

The three units of John Day Fossil Beds includes Clarno Unit, Painted Hills Unit, and Sheep Rock Unit.
There are quite a few trails within the vicinity of the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center that vary in length from 3.25 miles (5.2 km) to 0.25 miles (0.4 km).

Please remember that all fossils, historic structures, archeological features, rocks, plants and animals are protected and may not be collected or disturbed. For the protection of fossils under the surface, walking on the exposed fossil beds is prohibited. This includes badland-like surfaces that have few to no plants growing on them. Fossils from the Sheep Rock area are rate and fragile. Any that are exposed are collected by scientist for protection. If you see a fossil, don't pick it up, photograph it instead and tell a ranger. Please help protect your park and tell a ranger if you see anyone collecting or digging for fossils.

In the summer, keep water with you or accessible as necessary and wear sun protection.
Map of the Sheep Rock Unit
Sheep Rock Map

Hiking Trails

Sheep Rock Trails Brochure with Maps, pdf file
Foree's Turbulent World, site bulletin, pdf file

The following trails are listed from north to south

Foree Area

Flood of Fire (0.4 miles round trip) 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 (0.3 miles round trip) 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. This mostly level trail is partially paved.

Blue Basin Area

Island in Time (1.3 miles round trip) 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 (3.25 mile loop) This 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.)

The total distance to do both trails is 4.1 miles.

James Cant Ranch

River Trail (0.6 miles round trip) This packed gravel and mostly level trail leads to the John Day River from the Cant Ranch parking lot.

Sheep Rock Overlook Trail (½ mile round trip) 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 round trip) 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 (150 feet) Sweeping views of the John Day Valley and Picture Gorge can be seen from the overlook.

Last updated: May 31, 2017

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32651 Highway 19
Kimberly, OR 97848


(541) 987-2333

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