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Limited reopening of Thomas Condon Paleontology and Visitor Center

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument opens on weekends

Kimberly, Oregon –Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, John Day Fossil Beds National Monumentis increasing facilities access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Starting on Friday July 17, 2020 the Thomas Condon Paleontology and Visitor Center will reopen on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm., with an occupancy of up to ten visitors at a time inside the building. However, the fossil gallery, movie theater, and JR. Ranger room will not be open to the public at this time.

The following outside areas were reopened on May 14th, 2020

Clarno Unit: Trail of Fossils, Clarno Arch trail, Geologic Time trail, and all picnic areas.

Painted Hills Unit: Painted Hills Overlook trail, Carrol Rim trail, Painted Clove trail, Leaf Hill trail, Red Scar Knoll trail, and all picnic area.

Sheep Rock Unit: Island in Time trail, Blue Basin Overlook trail, Flood of Fire trail, Story in Stone trail, Cant Ranch trails, Mascall Overlook and all picnic areas.

With public health in mind, the following facility will remain temporarily closed:

  • Painted Hills Contact station

Superintendent Patrick Gamman stated that, “Despite the opening of the visitor center being limited for safety reasons, I am sure the park ranger staff will be able to help the public get the information they need for their visit to the monument. To remain open though, we need your help in making sure everyone stays safe during COVID-19. Remember to #RecreateResponsibly by continuing to keep social distancing, limit your time at the fossil museum, and bring your face mask.”

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At John Day Fossil Beds National Monument our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.  

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. There will not be potable water so please come prepared.  When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.  

We have amazing virtual tours of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, all of the time, so for people who are still home schooling or not traveling at this time check outhttps://www.nps.gov/joda/learn/kidsyouth/index.htm.  

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on our website;  www.nps.gov/joda and social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.


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