Cant Ranch and a peacefully beautiful River Trail

Cant Ranch and a peacefully beautiful River Trail


Location: Sheep Rock Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Roundtrip: 0,6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation Gain: None
GPS Coordinates: N 44 33.334   W 119 38.677
Visitor’s Information Open: all year round

No Pass Required


Cant Ranch is the second “must-visit” place on your trip around the Sheep Rock Unit after Paleontology Center. It can be easily found as it is situated just across the street from the Center. The former house of Scottish immigrants – James Cant and his wife Elizabeth, which was built in 1917, serves now as a historical museum and the headquarters of NPS. It also used to be a Visitor’s Center of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, but since 2005 the newly built Thomas Condon Paleontology Center took over this duty.

Walking into this three-storey house you will travel back into the early beginning of the 20th century. You will have a great chance to immerse yourself into the lifestyle of West pioneers, settled at this deserted area, as almost nothing has been changed in this house since those times.

But not only the inside area of the ranch house deserves your exploration, but also the ranch grounds, which feature an “open-air museum” of various agriculture appliances and equipment used by Cant family, as well as a large barn, a picnic area behind the house located at the pleasant shade of the trees, and two short trails with interpretive signs – the Sheep Rock Overlook Trail and the River Trail.

Beginning at the far end of the Ranch House parking lot, the 0,3 mile River Trail takes the visitors to the banks of John Day River, passing on its way an exhibit of old-time farm equipment, a beautiful orchard and some historic fields. This short paved trail is wheelchair accessible and easy as it has almost none elevation gain. One more pleasant advantage of hiking the trail is that you may collect any fruit which is ripe at the time of your visit.

Enjoy the scenic views of the green grassy riverbanks with the ancient hills and rocks towering in a close proximity. An amazing oasis amidst the deserted area of this National Monument.
The signs scattered along the trail will provide you with some glimpses into the history of the area or will explain the flora and fauna inhabiting this territories.

Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska

Information: Svetlana Baranova

Pictures taken: 9/9/15

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