What a surprise it was to find out there is desert in Oregon! Guess we didn’t do our homework. Arrived here yesterday and it is hot and dry. Luckily Clyde Holliday State Park is green and lush and has electric hookups, since it was in the low 90’s today and we needed to run the AC. This is a very nice park between Mt. Vernon and John Day in northeast Oregon. Looks more like a private campground than a state park, it is so nicely landscaped, but the sites are well spaced and have vegetation between them. There is also a nice nature trail along the John Day River.
While perusing the map, we found that this was near the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Always a sucker for a national monument, we drove the 30 miles there this morning, trying to do a little hike before it got too hot. When we got there it was already 93 but we took the 3 mile Blue Basin Overlook Trail anyway. What a surprise it was! The surrounding area is not that interesting, but the park was totally different. As we climbed the trail, we got great views of these rock formations, which were reminiscent of Bryce Canyon, only bluish-green. It was much more impressive than the pictures make it out to be.
There is a great visitor’s center at the Sheep Rock Unit of the monument, where we were today. They have thousands of fossils that were found in the area, ranging from plants to various unusual mammals. They actually have paleontologists and a lab, which is glassed so visitors can watch them at work. We saw a woman painstakingly removing rock from a fossil under a microscope, which looked like a very tedious job. It was quite a fascinating place, and we’re glad we stumbled upon it.
Tomorrow we’re heading to higher elevation where it is hopefully cooler, and I’ve found another national monument to explore, Newberry National Volcanic Monument south of Bend.