John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – The Clarno Unit
~ 32651 Highway 19, Kimberly, Oregon * Phone: (541) 987-2333 ~
The Clarno Unit is one of three sections of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument that was designated by the United States as an area of special concern in Wheeler and Grant counties of Eastern Oregon. It is located within the John Day River basin and operated by the National Parks Service. The focus of the protected area is its geology and paleontology specializing in well-preserved layers of fossilized materials including flora and fauna. Most found here date from the late Eocene around 45 million years ago to the late Miocene at 5 million years before present. The Other two units are Sheep Rock and Painted Hills. The total designated area is 13,944 acres of semi-desert shrub land, riparian zones, and badlands. It was originally visited by Native Americans such as the Sahaptin who hunted, fished, and gathered roots/berries in the region. Then came the Euro-American visitors who established ranches, farms, and small towns along the river. Under guidance of Thomas Condon in 1864, geologists and paleontologists began digging in the area and making the discoveries that the area is famous for today.
Clarno is the westermost of the three units and is approximately 1,969 acres roughly 18 miles west of Fossil along Oregon Route 218. A breathtaking rest stop along the scenic Journey through Time scenic byway in Oregon is the geological features known as the Pallisades. It is located roughly 18 miles west of Fossil, Oregon. These cliffs and land forms are created by prehistoric volcanic lahars (or volcanic mud flows) roughly 54-40 million years ago. This landscape was quite different at that time – a lush semi-tropical rainforest with jungles, vines, trees, shrubs and mega fauna. After the volcanic cataclysms, the environment was turned into the arid desert it is now. Fossil evidence depicts a vast arrange of plant life from leavaes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and petrified wood of over 173 species of trees, vines, shrubs, and other plants. Numerous faunal fossil remains of crocodiles, mini four-toed horses, huge rhino-like brontotheres, and meat-eating creodonts were found. There are three distinct hiking trails all under a mile in length demonstrating the fossil and geological record. Picnic tables and restrooms make for a restful stay. Drinking water is available from the rest stop May through September.
Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~
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