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Location: East-central Oregon in three separate areas: the Clarno Unit is located on Highway 218 twenty miles west of the town of Fossil. The Sheep Rock Unit is located off Hwy 19 between the towns of Dayville and Kimberly. The Painted Hills Unit is located nine miles northwest of the town of Mitchell. The entrance is on Burnt Ranch Road, six miles north of its junction with Highway 26.
The John Day Fossil Beds are spread out over three units of colorful rock formations spaced approximately 20 to 30 miles apart, containing one of the most complete records in the Northern Hemisphere of 40 million years of plant and animal evolution and ecosystem/climate change. Scenic drives and hikes at all three units and the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center in the Sheep Rock Unit allow visitors to explore the prehistoric past of Oregon and see science in action. With an early start it is possible to visit all three units in one day.