“A short trail out to an overlook with great views of Sheep Rock and the John Day River Valley.
— David Hitchcock
River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
Hiking on exposed fossil beds is strictly prohibited in order to protect the landscape.
The trail departs the south end of the parking lot of the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center in the Sheep Rock unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. It is the shortest trail in the unit (roughly .3 mile roundtrip), but offers a great view at the end. The hike climbs gently along a gravel trail that leads to an outlook where great views of the area await.
The trail is lined with tall grasses and small shrubs common to this area. When you get to the end of the trail, there are sweeping views of the paleontology/visitor center, Sheep Rock, Picture Gorge, and the John Day River, which cuts through the area.
At sunset, the light illuminates the hills and trees found along the river. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to see bald eagles sitting in the trees above the river or soaring above the hills. Even though it is a short trail, the views are worth the short visit.
Flora & Fauna
The viewpoint allows you to take in the landscape of the high desert while also enjoying views of a river ecosystem.