Blue Basin Overlook Trail of the Sheep Rock Unit

Blue Basin Overlook Trail of the Sheep Rock Unit



Location: Sheep Rock Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Roundtrip: 3,25 miles loop-trail
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 760 feet
GPS Coordinates: N 44 35.730 W 119 37.856
Visitor’s Information Open: all year round

No Pass Required


John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon can become a decoration of any journey. It’s like a trip in a time machine to the distant past of the planet. And if you have interest in paleontology, it is definitely worth a look, although this national monument is located away from the beaten tourist trails, and its territory stretches so that one day is just barely enough to simply get acquainted with it. This amazing National Monument consists of three geographically separated areas – Units: Sheep Rock, Painted Hills and Clarno.

Of course, the outstanding colorful scenery of Painted Hills is considered to be more attractive and therefore wins over the Sheep Rock unit among the visitors, but if you decide to give it a try, you will see how underestimated is this section of the park.

Located approximately three miles up Hwy 19 from the Paleontology Center, is definitely one of the gems of Sheep Rock Unit – Blue Basin, known for its sea-green play. It was here that Thomas Condon found some of his first fossils in 1860s, and it is still an active research area today.
The amazing rock formations of Blue Basin are not immediately noticeable during the drive along the highway. And if the Sheep Rock can be seen from afar, this place is better to view within walking distance. The Blue Basin Overlook Trail is the longest trail within the whole territory of this National Monument. This 3,25 miles loop-trail goes around the basin and then climbs up the ridge, thus leading the hikers to a stunning vantage point with the fascinating views of Blue Basin, the area, surrounding it and of a marvelous river valley below.

During wet weather you should better refrain from exploring this trail as climbing the basin’s rim it gets quite steep at places and can be dangerous. But after the rainstorms the blue-green colors of this magnificent formation become more deep and vivid, thus turning into a real delight for the eyes.
Enjoy the vistas, soak in the colors of this incredible place, which will make you think you are visiting another planet.


Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska

Information: Svetlana Baranova

Pictures taken: 9/10/15

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