What lived on Earth 54 million years ago?
According to the evidence unearthed at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, this part of Oregon was once home to thousands of different plants, animals, and fish when this entire region lay beneath the Pacific Ocean.
Within the striated rock scientists found fossilized documentation of more than 2,200 plants and creatures that inhabited this region over more than 47 million years. The layers also recorded great shifts in temperature and precipitation that may reveal clues to the planet’s climactic cycles.
The park’s 14,000 acres are divided into three parts—the Clarno, Painted Hills, and Sheep Rock units. At Painted Hills, you’ll discover how changes in climate and volcanic activity over millennia etched stripes of black, rust, green, and red into the Earth’s crust.
The rugged terrain in the John Day River Basin is home to dozens of species, including small animals, reptiles, and birds. In spring and summer, flowering cacti and wildflowers splatter the landscape with brilliant polka dots. The colors are especially vivid at sunset.
View fossils in the museum, hike the many trails, and drive through the hills and valleys. Take pictures of the wildflowers and reflect on the planet’s long history.