The Painted Hills, Oregon

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Painted Hills

One of the most unique and spectacular geological attractions in Central Oregon is a beautiful area known as the Painted Hills, located about 75 miles east of Bend just off Highway 26.

  • Located 75 miles east of Bend just off Highway 26.
  • Enjoy an afternoon picnic in the spring when a variety of wildflowers are in full bloom.
  • One of Central Oregon’s most fascinating geological formations comprised of uniquely shaped hills and vivid layers of color.
  • View fossils from plants and animals that lived here millions of years ago.


Located northeast of Bend in Central Oregon are some of the most fascinating, beautiful, and unusual geological formations in the country. Aptly named the Painted Hills, the colorful landscape is comprised of layers of vivid colors juxtaposed upon uniquely shaped slopes. The distinct red, gold, black, green, orange, and bluish-purple striations correspond with different geological periods. Each year thousands of visitors come to view this phenomenon that is part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Location and Information

The Painted Hills are located approximately 75 miles northeast of Bend via Hwy 26. They are accessible year round.

Contact Information: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, 32651 Highway 19, Kimberly, OR 97848. Phone: 541-462-3961. Visit the National Park Service website here.


  • Hiking – There are several trails that offer spectacular views of the Painted Hills, including the mile long Painted Hills Overlook Trail, the Painted Cove Trail, which is an easy quarter mile jaunt, and the 1.5 mile hike up to the top of Carroll Rim.
  • Picnicking – A nice picnic area is provided for those who visit the Painted Hills. During the spring a wide variety of wildflowers are in bloom, making it the perfect setting for an afternoon picnic.
  • Whitewater Rafting – Over 147 miles of the John Day River, which flows just north of the Painted Hills, were designated as Wild and Scenic in 1988 and offer rafters and kayakers an exciting whitewater experience.

Fun Facts

  • Some of the wildflowers that bloom in the Painted Hills include bitterroot, wild hyacinth, desert paintbrush, evening primrose, penstemon, dwarf monkey, yellow bells, larkspur, daisies, fiddle necks, and mariposa lily.
  • The Painted Hills contain fossils of plants that flourished in the area 33 million years ago.
  • Fossil remains of a variety of vertebrates have been found in the Painted Hills including those of camels, ancient horses, and rhinoceroses.