John Day Fossil Beds

Island in Time Trail

Moderate
(Blue Basin overlook)
4-mile loop
1180 feet elevation gain
Open all year
Use: hikers only

Easy (4 Painted Hills Unit trails)
2.6 miles round trip
360 feet elevation gain

Easy (2 Clarno Unit trails)
0.6 miles round trip
280 feet elevation gain 

Left: Island in Time Trail

More than 50 miles of highway separate the three parts of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Stop at each to take some short hikes. Collecting fossils is banned in the national monument, but from April to October you can hunt in the shale beds behind the high school in the city of Fossil (expect a small fee).

Clarno Unit
Consider planning a two-day trip so you’ll have time to explore. For a place to stay, try ... 

To start your tour, drive Highway 26 ...

For the first recommended hike, ...

Four trails explore the Painted Hills ...

... The rock began as a volcanic mud flow 44 million years ago, and is riddled with leaf fossils from a subtropical forest inundated by the eruption. The other short trail climbs uphill to the left from the message board for 0.2 mile to the rimrock itself, where water erosion has carved a tall hollow into the cliff, topped with a dainty 10-foot arch. At this desert viewpoint, crickets chirp, crows squawk, and peregrine falcons swoop past, hunting cliff swallows.

Right: Clarno Unit
Below: Painted Hills

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon.