Sunday, June 14, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 2 - Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Upon leaving the White River Falls area the road took me winding down into the town of Maupin along the Deschutes River. From here I took grand sets of backroads to work my way to SR 218 and the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. There are three separate areas that make up this national monument and the Clarno unit is in the region between Antelope and Fossil along SR 218, the most northerly area of these highlands.

The drive down from US 97 at Shaniko to bisect SR 218 at Antelope was spectacular in its own right - what a winding road of fun!

Then after a long climb up, SR 218 does another fascinating drop on winding roads through a mix of juniper forests and sage lands, all the way down to crossing the John Day River and then in just a few more miles reaching the Clarno Unit along the highway. The Palisades are the main attraction here, huge cliffs that were formed from the result of massive lahar outflows from ancient volcanic times. That's the necessary requirement to preserve what today are some wonderful fossils to view - a very rapid burial of debris under pressure. Indeed, this is the best location to easily see many fossils of leaves, many areas of petrified logs in the cliffs, and the interpretive part of the trail does an excellent job of helping you find the easy ones!

Another nice trail takes you up a couple hundred feet elevation to below the cliffs of the Palisades to get a closer look at the Clarno Arch, a small natural arch in the cliffs from the years of erosion.

I was humored too by the "cute" signs around the region to remind you to watch for rattlesnakes. I only saw lizards here but saw many rattlesnakes along the roads nearby that I drove around. Just as I came down from the Clarno Arch I did get buzzed by a rattlesnake which I was never able to locate. The rascal - spook me but not let me photograph it!?!

1 comment:

  1. Good photos....

    thanks for sharin with us......


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