Wilson Ranches Retreat Bed & Breakfast is conveniently located to explore the natural beauty that marks this region, from multicolored hills to prehistoric fossil beds. This spectacular landscape is diverse with miles of golden wheat, deep canyons, jagged cliffs, lush forests, and one of our nation’s longest free-flowing river systems.
Outdoor Activities in Oregon
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a treasure of Earth’s history that covers the past 55 million years of time since the Dinosaurs died out and mammals took over the world. The Monument is comprised of three units; Clarno, Painted Hills and Sheep Rock and covers 19,000-acres. No place on earth has such a continuous and easily visited record of the geology, paleontology, and climate as does this park. While you’re at the Sheep Rock Unit, visit the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center which showcases the fossil record found here with colorful dioramas, replicas of animals and plants, and a soundtrack to match. There are exhibits designed for children too, as well as a chance to handle replica skulls and other bone fragments through daily ranger-led talks.
John Day River
The John Day River is noted as a United States Wild and Scenic River and an Oregon Scenic Waterway and runs through the most geologically interesting country around. The river is the second longest free-flowing river in the United States and the longest undammed tributary of the Columbia River. Starting east of the Strawberry Mountains, it cuts its way through more than 100 million years of Oregon geologic history.
Rafting peacefully down the river is one of the best ways to get the full sense of just how wild this part of Eastern Oregon is, with a few rapids along the way. When the river slows during the summer months and begins to warm, enjoy an afternoon of picnicking along the banks, swimming and floating.
Fossils in Fossil
For more than 50 years, people have been collecting remarkably preserved and beautiful fossils from an area behind Wheeler High School in Fossil, Oregon. About 33 million years old, these fossils reflect the changing earth climate from the warmer time of the dinosaurs to a cooler, more modern climate. Today, it is one of Oregon’s only legally accessible fossil digs, containing the fossilized remains of deciduous trees that grew along nearby streams and wetlands. Many of these trees are the ancestors of the modern sycamore, maple, oak, rose and alder trees. Come and dig into the layers of volcanic ash and tuff, mixed with ancient lakeshore deposits, to find leaves, tree branches, pine cones and the State Fossil of Oregon, the Metasequoia. Best of all, you can dig them up and take up to three fossils home!
As you take an evening stroll or relax on the deck at Wilson Ranches Retreat take a moment to enjoy a stunning sunset in the Butte Creek Valley. As the sun sets the Eastern Oregon high desert sky transforms into a brilliant star-studded night.
If you’re an avid fisherman, the John Day River provides secluded, world-class fishing holes. The river is best known for its smallmouth bass, but there are also plenty of largemouth bass, summer and winter steelhead, trout, and bluegill to go around. Fishing license.
Jagged cliffs, steep canyon walls, and an untamed river provide the backdrop for Oregon’s newest and second largest state park. The sprawling 8,000 acre oasis is a gateway to adventure, offering excellent fishing plus plentiful hiking, wildlife viewing, and star-gazing opportunities.