John Day Fossil Beds National Monument paleontological hike

The Blue Basin Overlook Trail in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument features gorgeous views of volcanic ash that has turned to blue-green claystone, now exposed to the weather and carved into towering cliffs. The three-mile trail loops around the rock formation and up the hillsides of the surrounding John Day River Valley.

How would you like to travel back in time? You might be thinking, sounds like science fiction. And in a way, you would be right. But I am not talking about the sort of time travel involving flux capacitors or DeLorean time machines. Rather, the sort that uses dated rocks and hard scientific evidence to unlock the secrets of the Earth. I am talking about paleontology — a science dedicated to piecing together stories of the past.  

In Oregon, there is one place that stands above the rest for this sort of time travel and that is John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. With that in mind, I reached out to Nick Famoso, Paleontology Program Manager for the Monument, to see if he might be my guide into Oregon’s past. He said, “Yes!”

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