Activities at Wilson Ranches.

Horseback Riding

Immerse yourself in an authentic working cattle ranch experience on a scenic horseback ride, cattle drive, pasture move, riding for strays or checking fence lines as the Wilson family has for seven generations.  Enjoy a couple of hours in the saddle for spectacular views of the Columbia River Plateau, John Day Basin and the Cascade Mountain Range.

A Weekend in the Wild West

Capturing Oregon:  Playing Cowboy

Find Out More


Wilson Ranches Retreat is nestled in the Butte Creek Valley and is home to Upland game birds (Chukar, Quail and Hungarian Partridge) and birds of prey (Red-tailed hawks, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls). Great Blue Heron’s can occasional be sighted on Butte Creek. Guests enjoy relaxing in a serene environment with a spectacular view off the 400 square foot deck or on the lawn, where century old locust and fruit trees provide a great setting to watch songbirds on migration through the area.

Flora & Fauna

The juniper and sage covered high desert hills are magnificent for riding, birding, hiking and photography. Wildflowers of lupine, mariposa lilies, Indian paintbrush and many more begin painting the range in late spring. Wilson Ranches is teaming with wildlife: Mule deer, antelope, elk, coyotes, badgers, squirrels, beaver and birds of prey. Soak up nature and be replenished.


Create your own path or hike on one of the many game and cattle trails through the high desert hills surrounding Wilson Ranches Retreat Bed & Breakfast. The ranch crew can make recommendations for your exploration of Wilson Ranches with miles of unique geology, flora, fauna and awe-inspiring viewpoints certain to make it memorable.


Wilson Ranches is located in the Columbia River Plateau and John Day Basin with varied terrain and thousands of acres to explore.  Upland game birds (Chukar, Quail, and Hungarian Partridge) hunting is available exclusively to Wilson Ranches Retreat guests from October through January.

Mule deer hunting is also offered on Wilson Ranches.  Hunters need to contact Phil Wilson by April 1st to find out about availability and draw requirements.

To book your hunt please contact us at 541.763.2227



Activities Nearby.

Check out the John Day River Territory mobile App


Food is an essential part of Eastern Oregon’s culture.  Savor traditional country favorites, tender steaks, fresh local ingredients and homemade pies.  Here is a taste of the John Day River Territory and a few watering holes at old-fashioned soda fountains and cozy coffee shops.


RJ’s Restaurant 415 First Street, Fossil, OR 97830 Phone:  541-763-3335

Kountry Kafe 540 1st Street, Fossil, OR 97830 Phone:  541-763-3333

Home on The Road Coffee Shop & Deli 1003 Main Street, Fossil, OR 97830  Phone:  541-763-4766

Fossil Mercantile Company 555 Main Street, Fossil, OR 97830 Phone:  541-763-4617



Little Pine Café 100 E. Main Street, Mitchell, OR 97750 Phone:  541-462-3532

Route 26 Espresso Junction Highway 207/Highway 26, Mitchell, OR 97750 Phone:  541-462-3026

Sidewalk Cafe & More 204 West Main Street, Mitchell, OR 97750

The Place on Bridge Creek 218 Hwy 26, Mitchell, OR 97750


Service Creek:

Service Creek Stage Stop 38686 Hwy 19, Fossil, OR 97830 Phone:  541-468-3331



Lone Elk Market Willow Street, Hwy 19-207, Spray, OR 97874 Phone:  541-468-2443

Spray General Store 208 Main Street, Spray, OR 97874 Phone:  541-468-2254



Condon Elks BPOE 1869 117 South Main Street, Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541- 384-3331

Country Flowers 201 South Main Street, Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541-384-4120

Gubby’s Drive-In 433 South Main Street, Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541-384-3922

Sandi’s Soups & Catering 225 South Main Street (Located in Murray’s Condon Pharmacy), Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541-778-6481

The Round-Up Grill 209 South Main Street, Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541-384-5100

Two Boys Select Market 301 South Main Street Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541- 384-2371


There’s a place where traffic-free roads meet Eastern Oregon’s spectacular natural beauty and famed hospitality. The John Day River Territory is a haven for bicyclists in the know, a place where two wheel is spoken fluently.

The Paleo Lands Tour is a challenging 158-mile loop through the region’s world-famous John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The tour winds its way through jagged canyons, friendly communities, and breathtaking multicolored hills.

The Paleo Lands Tour

The Old West Scenic Bikeway

Along the Old West Scenic Bikeway , be sure to look for the “Two Wheels Spoken Here” signs, which indicate bike-friendly businesses.


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.

The John Day River has no dams to control water flow, so water levels fluctuate widely depending on snow pack and rainfall.  Before planning your trip, be sure to check the river’s current water levels with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Angling License

ODFW Reports


Launch permits are required for boaters planning either day-use or multi-day trips on several sections of the John Day River.  You may also be required to obtain an Aquatic Invasive Species Permit. For more information on permit requirements, fees, and the application process, please visit the Bureau of Land Management.

Mah-Hah Outfitters

Little Creek Outfitters

Arrowhead Adventures


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!

Wheeler High School

404 Main StreetFossil, OR 97830  Phone:  541-763-4146

Entrance Fees:

Individuals  – $5

Family of Four – $15 (Each additional child – $3)

Groups  – $25 (For 20 or fewer – school, college/university, scouts, church, etc.)

To arrange a group visit contact Wheeler High at 541-763-4303

Loaner hammers, shovels and buckets for toting rocks are available

Oregon Paleo Lands Visitors’ Center

333 Fourth Street, Fossil, OR 97830 Phone: 541-763-4480
Set in Fossil across the street from the Wheeler County Courthouse, the Oregon Paleo Lands Visitors’ Center is within easy walking distance of the Wheeler High School Fossil Beds. This Interpretative Center hosts a book and gift shop, a small museum, and is staffed with volunteers willing to offer countless ways to investigate the region’s unique rock formations and abundant wildlife.


Kinzua Hills Golf Course
Located 10 miles East of Wilson Ranches Retreat is the Kinzua Hills Golf Course, a six-hole tournament approved course in the timber.

Condon Golf Course

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

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.

There are no entrance or use fees at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Visitor Information Line (Sheep Rock Unit)

Clarno Unit Painted Hills Unit Sheep Rock Unit

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.  The unique qualities of the John Day River make it a world class fishery with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, trout, bluegill, wild steelhead and Chinook salmon runs.  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.  Not only is the scenery astounding, but the geologic story that you will see along the banks of the river will reveal the details of the development of the river, its contribution to human existence, and the wildlife calling the surrounding canyons their home.

Service Creek Stage Stop
38686 Hwy 19, Fossil, OR 97830  Phone: (541) 768-3331
Rafts, pontoon boats, canoe rentals and shuttle services.


Donna’s John Day River Shuttles – Fossil

John Day River Shuttles – Fossil

J & Z Shuttles – Spray
541-419-9561 or 541-561-5665

Journey Through Time Scenic Byway

The Journey Through Time tour celebrates 50 million years of Oregon history, through an area where fossils lie abundant on the landscape and the Old West happened just yesterday. Follow the tracks of early settlers.  See the ghostly remnants of gold rush boom towns and witness the earth’s geological history unfold where volcanic forces shaped the land.

Distance:  An engaging 286-mile drive
Starting Point:  Biggs, 17 miles east of The Dalles on I-84

Driving Guide (pdf)


Contrary to popular belief, Eastern Oregon isn’t just for cowboys and ranchers.  Here in the John Day River Territory, you’re just as likely to hear the roar of a motorcycle echoing down our canyons and through our pristine landscape.  The Journey Through Time Tour is all about curves; zigzagging past brilliant, color-washed Painted Hills, historic ghost towns and maybe a cattle drive or two.   So rev up your engine and come for a visit, scenic roadways, friendly communities, and jaw-dropping curves await.

Journey Through Time Tour

Eastern Oregon on Two Wheels

Museums & Cultural Heritage

Celebrate the heritage of the John Day River Territory with exhibits telling the story of ancient fossil beds, Native American artifacts dating thousands of years, early pioneers, the Oregon Trail, agriculture, ranching, rodeo, sheepherders, and much more.

Fossil Museum & Pine Creek School House
First & Washington Street, Fossil, OR 97830  Phone:  541-763-4440
WilsonRanch_1461 WilsonRanch_1282


Oregon Paleo Lands Visitors’ Center
333 Fourth StreetFossil, OR 97830  Phone:  541-763-4480

Wheeler County Court House (1901)
701 Adams Street, Fossil, OR 97830  Phone:  541-763-2191

 Spray Pioneer Museum
402 Willow Street, Spray, OR 97874  Phone:  541-468-2069

Gilliam County Historical Society
Highway 19 at Burns Park, Condon, OR 97823  Phone:  541-384-4233

Sherman County Historical Museum
200 Dewey Street, Moro, OR 97039  Phone:  541-565-3232

Kam Wah Chung Museum
125 NW Canton Street, John Day, OR 97845  Phone:  541-575-2800


South from Service Creek on Highway 207 and one mile east on Richmond Road.
Established in the 1890s, Richmond had a store, school, church and community center.

East from Condon on Highway 206 to Lonerock Road.
This pioneer town’s namesake is a huge rock which sits next to a Methodist church dating back to 1898.

South from Fossil on Highway 218 and eight miles west of Antelope.
Many beautiful historical buildings still stand at the once largest inland wool shipping center in the world.


Natural Wonders

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.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

John Day River

Star Gazing
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.

Natural Wonders Tour



Thomas Orchards
Highway 402, Kimberly, OR 97848 Phone: 541-934-2870
Located just off Highway 19, Thomas Orchards in Kimberly is a sweet, juicy stop for travelers. Bushels of fresh cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, apples, pears, and other fruits are available throughout the growing season (April to October) at the Orchard’s Fruit Stand.


Cottonwood Canyon State Park
Located on Highway 206 between Wasco and Condon.
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.

Bear Hollow Park
Approximately 10 miles east of Fossil on Highway 19.

Shelton Wayside Park
Approximatly 14 miles east of Fossil on Highway 19.

Julia Henderson Pioneer Park
Approximatly 14.5 miles east of Fossil on Highway 19.

Mule Shoe Recreation Area
Located on Highway 19 past Service Creek between mileposts 80 and 81.

Spray Riverfront Park
County Road No 1, Spray, OR 97874 Phone: 541-468-2069



Liberty Theater
212 S. Main Street, Condon, OR 97823 Phone:  541-384-2120
Showtime:  7:00 pm