"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

John Day, OR

Heading East

As we headed to Northeastern Oregon, there were a few places to checkout.

John Day Fossil Beds and Painted Hills National Monument

Colorful rock formations at John Day Fossil Beds preserve a world class record of plant and animal evolution, changing climate, and past ecosystems that span over 40 million years.  Exhibits and a working lab at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center as well as scenic drives and hikes at all three units allow visitors to explore the prehistoric past of Oregon.

The Painted Hills Unit is located about 9 miles northwest of the town of Mitchell, Oregon. Distinguished by varied stripes of red, tan, orange, and black, this area preserves a sequence of past climate change. The Painted Hills also contains leaf fossils aging 39-30 million years old.

The paleo art color

Red formed from oxidizing irons from the volcanic ash during warm and wet periods.

Yellow formed from the hardwood forest during the dry cooler periods.

There are many short trails located in the Painted Hills Unit of the monument and vary in length from 1.6 miles to 0.25 miles.

The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center which is open to the public is located in the Sheep Rock Unit.
A volunteer retired paleontologist was interesting and made the stop enjoyable and easy to understand. The Cezoic Age was between the Age of Dinosaurs and Ice Age. This was a very  nice exhibit with great murals depicting each era.

We did not get to hike in the northern Clarno Unit where tiny four toed horses once ran and could have spent more time at the Sheep Unit.
Our campground at the fairgrounds in the trees 

 Kam Wah Chung Heritage Site

This museum honors Chinese businessman Lung On and herbal doctor Ing Hay, who treated the nearly 2,500 Chinese gold-mine workers and pioneers. The building, constructed as a trading post in 1866-67, served as a center for the Chinese community in Eastern Oregon until the early 1940's.
The original building now contains thousands of artifacts and relics which illustrate the many former uses of the site - as a general store, pharmacy, doctor's office, Chinese temple and home.
Mel was a great interpretive host after seven seasons at this site.
 The 45 minute tour was time well spent and the items are preserved so well. His stories about the Chinese culture and how they were treated kept us interested. The building had been closed up when Ing Hay left for the last time intending to return. The arid conditions preserved everything very well. 

The apothecary with Chinese handwriting on the boxes.

The general store

 The 173 mile Old West Bikeway can be quite strenuous with 30 miles of moderate terrain for me. There were quite a few touring cyclists on the roads. 

 Canyon City, OR

The Chinese were run out of Canyon City to John Day which is basically the same town with a sign between the streets.
Pretty cool food truck dinner

Cabin from 1866
Our visit to John Day was short but a good place to rest before heading to the Wallowa Mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of Oregon.


  1. Was it HOT? We tried to give it a chance, but the weather was HOT. The Kam Wah Chung was closed, so we ate lunch in the RV with the AC running. Figured 'next time' but it was even hotter then! OK maybe next time. Thanks for sharing the pictures you show a beautiful place to spend a few days and maybe do some fossil hunting. Didn't see the squirrel feeder, pretty clever.

  2. It was in the low 80s. I kept dreading the heat but lucked out.

  3. This is a really interesting place to visit!! I love the Painted Hills...those colors are gorgeous!! I would love to visit this area...quite interesting!!

  4. The Painted Hills were the first place we visited when we started our full-time travels five years ago this month. Those colorful hills are amazing, aren't they? And then we spent a week in Joseph. It's such a wonderful area with great hiking. The Zumwault Prairie is gorgeous, too. Have fun!

  5. Looks like an interesting spot to visit. Even though it sits atop Nevada, it never occurred to me that eastern OR would be desert until we drove across US-20.

  6. Glad you made it to Kam Wah Chung...that little building is like walking right back into 1940! Very cool that the paleontologist gave you that tour at John Day. We did the Not-so Junior Ranger book there. By far, the hardest one we've done yet...but it really helped us understand what was happening there. We love those lightly used parks. :)

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.