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Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

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The main parking area features an oasis of green grass and shade trees perfect for picnics, as well as restrooms and water. Information panels tell the story of the geologic creation of the hills and provides a map of the different hikes and access roads. Whether you hike or just drive by, have your cameras ready and prepare to be awestruck by this unique terrain. All the sights are contained within a small area and we recommend you take every road and stop at each point of interest. The first views of the painted hills are enchanting. Only natures hand could paint such beauty — layers in a vivid palette of orange, red, black, green, and lavender. The deeply saturated hues are created by different layers of volcanic ash that have oxidized since being exposed to air by erosion. Colors shimmer off the hills and alter at different times of the day and weather conditions. The gentle curves of the dense clay hills are a striking contrast to the rugged surroundings and despite the lifeless look of the landscape, many plants have adapted to the rocky outcrops bringing a wide variety of wildflowers and butterflies. Explore the scenery on three short trails, Painted Hills Overlook and Trail, Leaf Hill Trail and Painted Cove Trail, the latter of which allows you to get very close on a boardwalk that circumnavigates a painted hill. Please do not walk on, or touch the hills as they will be permanently damaged. The Carroll Rim Trail is a 1.5-mile round trip that hugs the mountain-side, climbing 400-feet to a volcanic caprock overlook.


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