Painted Hills

Painted Hills


Welcome to the Painted Hills, a stunning geological formation in Central Oregon known for its mesmerizing views and vibrant colors! Located in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, the Painted Hills are considered one of the “7 Wonders of Oregon” and are a must-visit for any traveler in the area. The hills are made up of layers of soil containing minerals that have been eroded over time to create an incredible landscape of red, yellow, black, and tan colors that will take your breath away. In this article, we’ll explore the history, geology, and activities available at the Painted Hills, so you can plan your visit and make the most of your experience!


History of the Painted Hills

The Painted Hills are part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, a protected area of more than 14,000 acres containing fossil beds from the late Eocene Epoch (roughly 35 million years ago). The area was created by a series of volcanic eruptions, which left behind layers of ash and sediment that were later eroded by the river. Over time, the soil’s minerals have become exposed and produced the stunning colors that make the Painted Hills so unique.

The area was first discovered by settlers in the late 1800s and quickly became a popular destination for tourists. However, it wasn’t until 1975 that the Painted Hills were designated as part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Today, the area is protected and managed by the National Park Service, ensuring that generations to come can continue to enjoy this incredible landscape.


Geology of the Painted Hills

The Painted Hills are made up of layers of soil containing various types of minerals, including iron, manganese, and aluminum. These minerals are what give the hills their vibrant colors, which range from red to yellow to black and tan. The colors are most vibrant in the late afternoon when the sunlight hits the hills, creating a truly breathtaking sight.

The hills are also composed of sedimentary rocks, which have been eroded over time to form the rolling hills and canyons that make up the landscape. The area is constantly changing due to erosion and weathering, so no two visits to the Painted Hills will be the same!


Activities at the Painted Hills

The Painted Hills are a great destination for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Visitors can explore the area on foot, bike, or horseback, taking in the stunning views of the hills and canyons. There are also several hiking trails in the area, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty.

In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy wildlife viewing, bird-watching, and stargazing at the Painted Hills. The area is home to a variety of animals, including elk, deer, raptors, and many small mammals. There are also plenty of opportunities for bird-watching, as the area is home to more than 200 species of birds. And at night, the clear skies offer stunning views of the stars and Milky Way.



The Painted Hills are truly a remarkable sight to behold! With its vibrant colors and awe-inspiring views, this geological formation is a must-see for anyone traveling to Central Oregon. Whether you’re looking for a day of hiking or a peaceful evening of stargazing, the Painted Hills have something for everyone. So, don’t miss your chance to experience this incredible area and create lasting memories!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart