It’s a always a good idea to get back on the horse that bucked you off…
That’s our motto as we drive back the way we came two nights ago.
This time we’re taking the jeep…
The John Day National Park is a bit of a puzzle.
It’s actually three, separate, distinct parks miles apart from one another. It was originally three state parks which are now recognized as one national park.
It encompasses a huge area and has a wealth of incredible rock formations which are bursting at the seams with fossils. There are no gates, no entrance fees.
Our first stop is the Mascall Formation Overlook. I don’t know when this overlook was built but it looked brand new.
The road leading up the hill travels past farms where free range cows stand and lay next to the road like senior citizens watching the cars go by.
The views from here are spectacular! The colors and textures like an artists canvas. Always changing with the clouds.
The Mascall Formation
Looking back toward the town of John Day.
After we had our fill of long distance views we entered Picture Gorge.
Picture Gorge is so named because of native art high up on the walls.
There are incredible formations around every corner…
A beautiful new fossil research center was built in 2003.
The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center
It has a huge picture window in the main lobby which looks directly into the fossil lab where you can watch paleontologists working on fossils in real time. Above the window is a computer monitor which shows the view from the microscopes currently being used.
Display cabinets containing tools used in field work line the walls. Each one has descriptions of techniques used for stabilizing fossils.
For anyone with an interest in archaeology or paleontology this is a must see!
The museum itself is also beautifully designed and the number and variety of fossils is mind blowing.
As we drive through this park I’m in awe of the ranches which coexist with the stunning landscape.
I’m ready to move in here!
There are a lot of hiking opportunities. We chose a short hike to the Foree formation.
Looking back at the road.
Another road view.
An overgrown scenic turnout.
We came to this view.
Where this sat across the bank…
This seemed to be the worst part of the road with some rock fall but it was still better than the road we took yesterday.
At least this one is mostly level!
Highway 207 down toward Mitchell.
The painted hills segment of the national park is just west of Mitchell Oregon.
We saw these bright red hills on the road leading to the Painted Hills park.
This is the view of the Painted Hills.
Unlike the miles of formations in Arizona’s Painted Desert, this park unit consists of this one hill. I had a little fun with photos.
This is the road to the overlook.
This is the hill on the opposite side. Not as bright.
At the bottom of the overlook there is a nice brand new picnic area and park.
The ranger station.
The hardest part about visiting the John Day area is whipping your head back and forth trying to take in all the scenery.
Driving back through Mitchell I spied this old character.
and a perfect Roadside America tribute to the end to the day...
A shoe tree!