John Day Fossil Beds Loop

Mount Vernon, Oregon

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A 119-mile loop through the colorful gorge of the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and through northeastern Oregon orchards and mountains. Starting in the cattle country of John Day, the drive moves west, then switches to deep canyons of brilliant sandstone and lava as it heads north through the John Day Fossil Beds. Turning east at Kimberly, it follows a mountain ridge overlooking croplands and then returns south through the thick Malheur National Forest. The route crosses three branches of the John Day River several times, and the stream is a continuous presence during the first half of the drive. Although elevation ranges from 1,820 feet near Kimberly to 5,000 feet near Long Creek, grades are gradual with a minimum of curves. Special attractions: Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Picture Gorge, Kam Wah Chung Museum, Malheur National Forest, North, South and Main Forks of John Day River, and colorful rock formations.

John Day Fossil Beds Loop Professional Review and Guide

"A 119-mile loop through the colorful gorge of the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and through northeastern Oregon orchards and mountains. Starting in the cattle country of John Day, the drive moves west, then switches to deep canyons of brilliant sandstone and lava as it heads north through the John Day Fossil Beds. Turning east at Kimberly, it follows a mountain ridge overlooking croplands and then returns south through the thick Malheur National Forest.

The route crosses three branches of the John Day River several times, and the stream is a continuous presence during the first half of the drive. Although elevation ranges from 1,820 feet near Kimberly to 5,000 feet near Long Creek, grades are gradual with a minimum of curves. Special attractions: Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Picture Gorge, Kam Wah Chung Museum, Malheur National Forest, North, South and Main Forks of John Day River, and colorful rock formations."

Activity Type: Scenic Drives
Nearby City: Mount Vernon
Distance: 119
Season: Year-round
Local Contacts: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument; Malheur National Forest
Driving Directions: Directions to John Day Fossil Beds Loop

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May 2018