Sheep Rock

The three units of John Day Fossil Beds includes Clarno Unit, Painted Hills Unit, and Sheep Rock Unit.

The Sheep Rock Unit is located on Highway 19, near the towns of Kimberly Oregon and Dayville Oregon. Geological formations found in the Sheep Rock Unit, including the green claystone layers of the Turtle Cove Member, date back 32-7 million years. New vertebrate fossils are continually being exposed through natural erosion.

Unit Features:

Thomas Condon Paleontology Center from the overlook trail

NPS Photo

Thomas Condon Paleontology Center

Contructed in 2003, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is the best place to see fossils at the monument. Here, fossils from all three units of the park, as well as those from other federal lands in the area, are on display for visitors to see up close.

blue basin hike
Ranger leading a hike through the Blue Basin's Island in Time trail.

NPS photo

There are quite a few trails within the vicinity of the visitor’s 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 the badland-like surfaces that have few to no plants growing on them. In the summertime, make sure to keep water with you or accessible as necessary.
Foree trails
Green claystones at the Foree trailhead

NPS photo

Colorful Strata...

The Sheep Rock unit contains an amalgam of colorful strata and complex geology. From Cretaceous conglomerates to the flood basalts, the geologic features in this portion of the monument are a spectacle to behold.

The predominant exposures of green rock seen on Sheep Rock are a multitude of reworked layers of volcanic ash. The rich green color of the claystone was caused by chemical weathering of a mineral called celadonite. This happened millions of years ago as water moved through the alkaline ash beds under high pressure.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

32651 Highway 19
Kimberly, OR 97848


(541) 987-2333

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