Friday, May 30, 2014

Day Trip: The Painted Hills of the High Desert Area of Central Oregon

Mitchell, Oregon

Judy and I took a day trip to see the Painted Hills Thursday.  It was the first time we had driven east on hwy 26 since we arrived at Madras.  It was a lot easier not pulling the fifth wheel.  It was about a 75 mile drive there. The Painted Hills is one unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The hills had a Martian Landscape look to me.

I copied the below  summary from Eugene Outdoors travel magazine online.

Central Oregon’s famous Painted Hills were born in a fiery cloud of ash approximately 33 million years ago and are a spectacular display of the colors of nature’s palette. A series of low clay hills striped in bands of orange, red, black, green, blue, and lavender, the Painted Hills invite visitors to explore the fragile area with designated hiking trails and interpretive signs.

History: The unique colors of the Painted Hills were formed by volcanic eruptions that sent clouds of ash to settle over much of Central Oregon. Over time, layers of ash formed with different mineral compositions, which led to the bands of color seen today.

As the climate in the region changed, the layers of ash were covered by water and formed the bottom of a lake bed. After millennia, the lake eventually dried, and geologic motion in the earth’s crust thrust parts of the lake bed up, allowing wind and rain to begin the process of erosion. Exposed to air and water, the minerals in the volcanic ash oxidized and transformed into the vividly-colored claystone we see today.

Here are some of the pics we took (remember Click to enlarge)

Painted Hills 1      Painted Hills 3

Painted Hills 9       Painted Hills 12

Painted Hills flower

      Painted Hills Judy


John Day Fossil 1     John Day Fossil Sisn

That is all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.

Next Blog: about a week


  1. Have never been in central Oregon, it's beautiful!

  2. Looking forward to seeing this possibly this year. Nice pictures!

    1. Debbie - If you make it out to this area before the end of Sept give us a shout.


    2. We'll be heading to WA for the first week of July, but it's looking like we won't have time before that to stop. Afterward, we'll be heading towards SD. If that changes though, I'll definitely let you know!