The Painted Hills are one of three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument located in Wheeler County, Oregon. The Painted Hills are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.
It totals 3,132 acres and is located just nine miles northwest of Mitchell, Oregon. If you planning on visiting the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I suggest staying overnight at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell. You can find rooms as low as $39.
If you are heading from the east towards Mitchell, I suggest stopping in Dayville for gasoline, or you’ll potentially be staring at E on your gas gauge before reaching Prineville on your drive west.
The Painted Hills unit offers an abundance of fossils that still remain including early horses, camels, and rhinoceroses. The best time to visit the Painted Hills unit is in late May. Come in the evening around 7 p.m. after a thunderstorm. The rain brings out the best colors in the hills.
If you’re looking for a great place to visit without breaking the bank, you’re in luck! The Painted Hills unit is free to the public.
Unfortunately, there are no great places to hike at the Painted Hills unit. There are some short walkways that allow you to get a better view of the Painted Hills. The longest pathway you can take is roughly a 0.5-mile walk.
To preserve the land, the National Park Service has put signs along areas that are off limits to tourists. Cross country travel leaves footprints that can last for years destroying the land which gives us the beautiful colors and patterns.
If you are traveling through Central Oregon, make sure you stop at the Painted Hills unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
Contact: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
32651 Oregon 19 (Sheep Rock Unit), Kimberley, 541-987-2333.