The Clarno Unit in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Central Oregon is located near the town of Fossil. The area is very desert like, with vegetation consisting of a variety of grasses and sagebrush. In his new book Photographing Oregon, Greg Vaughn advises his readers to also consider rattlesnakes part of the fauna! (I ran into Greg at Stonehenge - very nice guy with a wealth of knowledge about his home state - I encourage you to buy the book!)
The Palisades are the main attraction in the Clarno Unit. They were formed over 44 million years ago by a series of mudflows called lahars. As a result, a great variety of fossils were preserved. The Trail of the Fossils is a 1/4 mile trail that offers viewing of fossils in the rocks.
Pictured here are images from the Clarno Arch Trail, a 1/4 mile trail that climbs up to the base of The Palisades and the natural arch. Above the trail in the rocks are petrified logs. No rattlesnakes were seen on this day, likely because it was nearly noon on a very warm day.
To get to the Clarno Unit, follow Highway 218 east from Highway 97 towards the town of Fossil. Highway 218 is a very scenic route and worth the drive all on its own!