This second trip to John Day was partly a reprise of my first trip and partly a trip over new territory. I wanted Lucy to see the beautiful formations in the Sheep Rock unit. We both love to hike so we decided to hike the three mile, 600 feet elevation Blue Basin Overlook Trail. I had done a small part of it on my first trip so we started around it counter clockwise this time. This was a good idea as the trail rises much more gradually this way and you only have to roll down the last steep half mile at the end.
The trail leads behind the mountains and was in the shade until after I came around this corner. Looking back gave me this view.
As I climbed higher, I could see painted hills to my left.
And this mix of soils.
Finally we got to the top where I caught up with Lucy who is getting her first glimpse of the blue formations in Blue Basin. This was one mile into the hike and about a 600 foot elevation.
As the trail descended, we could see more and more of these spectacular formations.
And also a long view into the valley, across the John Day River and up into the next hills.
The trail begins a pretty steep descent here, gets level with the formations and then gradually gets almost to the bottom of them about the time you reach the open end of this little canyon.
This is a look back. The trail winds behind the right side of this picture behind all the formations you can see.
A closer view shows the awesome formations and colors.
And even closer one can see more than just that remarkable blue.
And there are a few more interesting things to see close up.
Soon we are almost back to the parking lot with this view. That's a corner of the picnic shelter in the left bottom corner.
We shared part of the interpretive trail, Story in Stone, on the way back. This trail runs along the valley floor and leads to places where large animal fossils have been partially excavated and then covered with glass cases so you can see them in situ.
We had also hiked the short and easy Flood of Fire Trail as well as stopped scores of times as we traveled from our BLM campsite along the John Day River ($2.50 for senior pass holders). From here, we were off to the Clarno Unit. We stopped at the fruit orchard, about a mile east of Kimberly, for apples, pears, and plums, all grown along the John Day River. Pictures from these parts of the trips will soon be up on Picassa. Descriptions of all the trails in John Day Fossil Beds are here.