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Painted Hills Provide Perfect Day Trip (Video)

Photographing a 7-Wonder: Join professional photographer Christian Heeb for this one night workshop Saturday, August 16th! Details are on his website.

They’re dubbed one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders, but it’s almost hard to believe the Painted Hills call Eastern Oregon ‘home’.

That’s because, when you hop out of your car it feels like you’ve stepped onto a different planet. The Painted Hills Overlook Trail gives you a panoramic view.

Besides the gas to get here, it doesn’t cost anything to experience this part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Plus, you get a free history lesson. All the different colors you see are from volcanic eruptions and changing climate patterns over millions of years.

From far away the mounds look smooth as can be, but up close you can see the rough texture of the soil. And, if you want to roam where elephants and dinosaurs once did, take the Painted Cove Nature Trail; a wooden walkway put you right in the middle of everything and protects the fragile area.

The color of the hills is always changing, on dark, cloudy days the purple and gold really pop. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the Painted Hills at sunrise or sunset, you’ll definitely be in for a treat.

Once you’re there, it wouldn’t be out of the question to decide another day at the monument is in order. Luckily, Painted Hills Vacation Rentals are right around the corner, offering beautiful cottages at reasonable rates. To turn your day trip into a true, extended Western experience, the Wilson Ranches Retreat Bed and Breakfast is nearby, just three miles northwest of Fossil. The 9,000-acre working cattle and hay ranch offers a glimpse of historic rural living with current proprietors Phil and Nancy Wilson.

Horseback Riding at Wilson Ranches located in Central Oregon.

You can enjoy home-cooked meals with great conversation about life on the ranch, take a horseback ride and, heck, maybe they’ll put you to work herding cattle. Wilson Ranches offers a true immersion into the Western way of life.

A day trip from Central Oregon to the Painted Hills area is just over 160-miles round-trip, but the memories you make there will stay with you long after.

** Painted Hills photos provided by Skyler Hughes.

Mackenzie Ballard
Mackenzie Ballard
Mackenzie Ballard is the Director of Marketing for Visit Central Oregon.
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