Total Miles - 653
Clyde Holliday State park to Ochoco Pass NF Campground
We began the day driving west down the John Day River valley. Being May, it is still green. Never having driven this section of Oregon before, it was pretty neat. My main impression of central Oregon had been over by Bend, and also along the basalt bluffs of Columbia River where it is dry desert sage brush. Amazed at the ranches, pine forests, and beauty.
In eastern Oregon lies one of the most complete natural history of the past 60 million years. The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument occupies 3 main units in eastern Oregon. We visited 2 units. Driving west from John Day, Oregon we follow the river through the narrow Picture Gorge where we see 17 different volcanic layers each representing over 8,000 years of time.
|Picture Gorge. 17 volcanic layers averaging 8,000 yrs each.|
The monument was inaugurated in 1975 with 3 distinct units. We first visited the Visitor Center on the John Day River, spending 3 hours touring one of the best educational displays we have ever seen, which covers each era of which there about 8-10.
|Amazing displays at Visitor Center|
|John Day River Valley near Blue Basin|
|Backside of blue Basin Overlook Trail looking north|
|Overlook of the Blue Basin|
We hiked about a mile along the rim before descending via switchbacks to the center of the canyon.
Most of our photos were shot with the iPhone, however I did manage to shoot a couple with the big Canon. They will be on my Flickr page.
|Is it really that blue down there?|
|Blue and Green Volcanic Tuff with many layers on top|
The blues and greens are volcanic Tuff layed down 30+million years ago. Over time, many layers heaped on top caused compression and metamorphosis of the tuff turning it these fascinating colors
|Yep, it's blue all right|
|Charli and Mr. Toad waited in the parking lot, waaaayyy down there.|
|Painted hills. Also Volcanic Tuff like blue basin. Just different color|
|Love the 10 second delay on the big camera.|
|Shooting the Painted hills. I only had about 20 minutes of good light.|
We drove back out to the main road. Along the way we did see one possible BLM dry site, however, with the fading light, was not sure we could make it in there and didn't know about rain overnight leaving the road muddy and stranding us. Such wusses we are. Plus we did know of a Forest Service campground up on Ochoco Pass (4723' elevation) which we thought would have space for us.
Turns out we found a sweet pull through and cost us only $6 to camp in the tamarack and pine forest. We pulled in around 8:45, dropped the levelers and out go the slides. Sraddha had started some Posole early in the morning which just needed to be reheated and seasoned. We ate, listening to the wind rustling in the trees and slept soundly, quite satisfied of a full day or hiking, learning, and being in some incredible natural beauty we had not even imagined a few days before.