Blue Basin in the John Day Fossil Beds – Blue Basin Overlook Trail


While staying at the Wilson Ranches B&B near Fossil, we spent a few days visiting the very interesting and wide-spread units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. On a somewhat stormy day, thankfully turning to mostly sun breaks, we journeyed to the Sheep Rock Unit. The Unit is subdivided into the Mascall Formation Overlook, Picture Gorge, the James Cant Historical Ranch, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, Blue Basin, Cathedral Rock and the Foree District.

After visiting the Historical Ranch we headed toward Blue Basin.

There were two hikes available from the upscale parking area, the Island in Time and the Blue Basin Overlook trails. The first one led to a huge natural amphitheater with high walls of bluish-green clay or tuff (compressed volcanic ash). The tuff had a corrugated look to it – – – very unique. And, of interest, the little stream leading from the amphitheater was literally green in color due to recent rains sloughing off the clay into the creek.

Upon return to the trailhead area we commenced the longer and more difficult climb to an overlook above the amphitheater (Blue Basin). This is probably the most spectacular trail in the National Monument, providing an excellent sense of the geological change the area has seen over the last 20 million years.

Both trails are well worth hiking. Together they are four miles in length with about 1,200 feet of elevation gain. The following are photos from the Blue Basin Overlook Trail.

Ground Squirrel

Ground Squirrel

Sagebrush on Blue Basin Rim

Sagebrush on Blue Basin Rim

Looking down into the Blue Basin

Looking down into the Blue Basin

Checkerbox Butterfly

Northern Checkerspot Butterfly

Colorful rock

Colorful rock

Looking over Blue Basin Rim to the reddish Tuff to the north

Looking over Blue Basin Rim to the reddish Tuff to the north

Larkspur

Larkspur

Hairstreak Butterfly

Ochre Ringlet Butterfly

Looking down into the Blue Basin

Looking down into the Blue Basin

Paintbrush

Paintbrush

Daisy

Daisy

Categories: Central Oregon OutingsTags: , , , ,

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