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Oregon’s Painted Hills

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If you find yourself driving in Central Oregon, perhaps between Boise and Bend, and looking for something to do, make sure you hit the Painted Hills. They are one of three parts (referred to as units) of the John Day Fossil National Monument.

You can do the Painted Hills in a half-day and it’s totally worth the detour. We stayed for five days in the area and explored all three units of the park.

oregon painted hills

Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

We preferred the Painted Hills and went back to them several times so Mr. Misadventures could capture them in a different light. The best time was right after a storm, something you can’t really plan for, we just got lucky!

oregon painted hills

Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

It’s one of the seven wonders of Oregon. You can see why from the photos. They get their name from the colorful layers that represent various geological eras.

They are also extremely fragile and require protection from careless visitors. Footsteps and tracks scar these beautiful mounds, the effects of which last for years.

oregon painted hills footsteps

Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

These footsteps will take a long time to disappear which ruins it for others.

Oregon’s Painted Hills are beautiful. Definitely worth a visit. If you have time, you should hike the Carroll Rim Trail, it is supposed to give you a fantastic overlook of all the hills. I had a hurt foot so was unable to do the climb.

Because of their size, the best photos are panoramic and Mr. Misadventures took some real beauties which are on his website.

How about you? Have you visited these Painted Hills? How about other Painted Hills in the U.S. (or beyond)?

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Painted Hills web story!

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Things to Do Central Oregon - USA - Painted Hills John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Things to Do Central Oregon - USA - Painted Hills John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Things to Do Central Oregon - USA - Painted Hills John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Things to Do Central Oregon - USA - Painted Hills John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

RV Travels: Weekly Wanderings #24 – Central Oregon, Crescent
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Joe, Salem, OR

Monday 8th of March 2021

I would definitely recommend the drive through the Gorge in summertime, especially at sundown. It’s one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen. And there are lots of interesting places to see between Biggs Junction, OR and Portland, OR. One must see place a short drive East of Portland is McMenamins Edgefield located in Troutdale, OR. You won’t be disappointed. There you will find lodging, dining, craft brews and wines, art, live music, and a very colorful history to the property that I won’t spoil by revealing here. When I say it’s a must see I mean it.

Danial (Dan On The Road)

Saturday 29th of August 2020

The Painted Hills are simply stunning. I bet my geologist friend would go crazy here!

Stephanie

Saturday 23rd of July 2016

I've always wanted to see these in person. They look so beautiful in pictures.

cassandra m

Wednesday 20th of July 2016

wow this is breathtaking! i am going to be sure to stop here when i plan my trip to oregon.

Lisa Ogle

Saturday 16th of July 2016

I am planning on visiting my daughter who lives in Oregon maybe I will visit here as well.