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The Clarno Unit is located 18 miles west of the town of Fossil. The Palisades are the most prominent landform. 44 million years ago a series of volcanic mudflows, swept up and preserved a diverse assortment of plants and animals that inhabited a near-tropical forest. Tiny four-toed horses, huge rhino-like brontotheres, crocodilians, and meat-eating creodonts that once roamed ancient jungles are now found in the rocks of the Clarno Unit, as well as an incredibly diverse range of plant life. Leaves, fruits, nuts, seeds, and petrified wood from 173 species of trees, vines, shrubs, and other plants have been found here thus far.

The modern vegetation is typical of Central Oregon's near-desert environment with a variety of grasses, sagebrush and juniper.


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oregon Bike Friendly Business participant

<span>oregon </span>Bike Friendly Business<span> participant</span>

This business has been officially recognized by Travel Oregon as Bike Friendly. Bike Friendly Businesses demonstrate a commitment to serving visitors who ride bikes and the specific amenities they may need. These businesses are making the Oregon bike experience better for our visitors and the people who live here. Find out more at

What’s around here? Location & Nearby Things to See & Do

These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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A related Trip Idea

  1. Road Trip: John Day Fossil Beds Country

    written by Eileen Garvin on October 26th, 2015

    The first time I saw the Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon, I was in a hurry. My group had stopped at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, which acts as the interpretive center for the hills and the rest of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument…

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