John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Clarno palisades, John Day Fossil Beds Nationa...
John Day Fossil Beds (Image via Wikipedia)

Kimberly, OR

Eastern Oregon offers much in the way of outdoor exploration for families, but the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is often overlooked. There are 3 locations along Hwy 26, but the visitor center and main displays are at the Sheep Rock Unit on Hwy 19 off of Hwy 26 (about 70 miles east of Prineville). There is a fantastic visitor center kids really enjoy with huge dioramas with sound effects depicting the area millions of years ago. There is also a big room with art projects and hands on displays for kids. Short (1 mile round trip) hikes and an even shorter nature trail are in the area.

Note: These fossils have nothing to do with dinosaurs! So don’t let the little ones get their hopes up for dinosaur bones!

Distance off the interstate: On Hwy 19, two miles from Hwy 26.

Admission: Free!

Tip: The visitor center is free and has nice restrooms, but no food services.

Hours: Summer: 9am-5pm Winter: 9am-4pm

Food Services: None on-site. A nice pit stop on the way is at Prineville (on Hwy 26 between Redmond and John Day). There’s an indoor McDonald’s Play Place and Dairy Queen, but even better is the lovely city park. (Make a left on N. Elm off Hwy 26 to Ochoo Creek Park). The park boasts a community pool, restrooms and a creek. There is also a fire fighters memorial for 9 local smoke jumpers who died in a Colorado fire.


Directions: The Visitor Center at the Sheep Rock Unit is located on Highway 19 between the towns of Dayville and Kimberly, 2 miles from the junction of Highway 26 and Highway 19.
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This post included in Trekaroo’s Talking Trekaroo for Spotlight Thursdays!