Road Trip: Oregon’s Painted Hills, Part 1

June 23, 2016

“It was coming on a rain.  The day had a two-way look, like a day will at change of the year — clouds dark and the gold air still in the road . . .  ”

— Eudora Welty, The Golden Apples


We finally arrived at our destination, the Painted Hills of Oregon.  What an unusual and amazing wonder it is!  I was transfixed by the rounded shapes of the hills — appearing soft as if aging gently — and the pleasing color palette of the bands.  But what also surprised me was how small this special area is.  I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but the Painted Hills are not spread across a vast expanse like the Grand Canyon.    The hills are concentrated in a very small geographic space.


Most of the areas are off limits to walking or hiking.  The surface of these hills would be easily marked by footprints.  You can see evidence of animal tracks on this hill.  Imagine how the velvety-looking surfaces would be marred if humans were allowed to wander at will.  So access is granted via five viewpoints, all except one are just short walks from the car.  My favorite was the longer Carroll Rim Trail Viewpoint, a 3/4-mile hike uphill, giving a more lofty aerial perspective.


Interpretive signs say that the bands of color were laid down millions of years ago during periods of wet and dry climates — evidence of past times of climate change.

The surfaces are cracked like dry mud, but apparently are very absorbent.

The surfaces are cracked like dry mud, but apparently are very absorbent.








The following photos were taken from the Painted Hills Overlook Trail.  My next two posts will show you other parts of the Painted Hills Unit.  Please do stay tuned!















5 Responses to “Road Trip: Oregon’s Painted Hills, Part 1”

  1. Lynne Auld Says:

    Beautiful photos of a fascinating place – thanks!

  2. Choral Eddie Says:

    Thank you for all the photos and descriptions of the painted hills. From youth I’ve heard of them, never visited, and you made them come alive for me.

  3. Diana Studer Says:

    We have problems with idiots driving off road. I’m impressed that people cooperate by not walking into that landscape.

  4. shoreacres Says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of these. They’re truly remarkable, and something else to go on The List.

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