John Day Fossil Beds National Monument


Nov 23, 2015
I'm hoping to spend just a couple of days at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument next May. I've never been there, and would just like some hints about where you might recommend I car camp and which activities/sites you would recommend. I realize this is a very broad question, but with two days, I recognize I'm not going to see everything, but I would like what I do see to be good things. (I'll gladly do the same for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior Provincial Park, and hopefully, in the next few years, will be able to do so for Yellowstone and the Bighorns.) Suggestions? Thanks in advance.

I swung through last summer with just the same plan. They make a BIG deal about no camping in the monument. i found a couple of places on Google Earth but was never happy with what I found. Much more fenced/private land there in central Oregon than I though there would be. i finally bailed and grabbed a hotel in the area and they were much more than a podunk central Oregon town should be.

Not really any help other than to say that I know where you are coming from. I'm sure there are some good places and you should keep looking and find one because the cheap-O motels are not cheap. Oh and I should point out that I was not really looking at the state campgrounds. One had fake teepees set up and charged $45/night. Yuk. of those state ones in the area might be OK. Good luck.
Hmmm. Thanks Duke. Maybe I'm asking the wrong question. I looked for a bit at the park service site and it looked like the place might have neat things to see and do. That's why I figured I'd stay a couple of nights. Am I wrong about that? Was there something neat there? Thanks again.

I guess it depends on what you are looking for. It is an interesting area and they have a museum there. it is a pretty desert area but nothing compared to say....the Utah red rock area so for me it was not really a place to stay a few days when one could head over to the rock climbing near Bend or up to Mt Hood. Those areas have some unique things I can't "get" in my area where as the JD desert area is nice....but I can get better desert or better fossil experiences elsewhere so for me I would enjoy it for a bit...and then push through to something else. A nice area, but for me it is not really a "destination" spot.
Sounds like I need to reevaluate the amount of time I spend there. Thank you.

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