John Day Fossil Beds Painted Hills Unit

Painted Hills
Vividly colored, red, black, and tan striped hills make up part of the Lower John
Day Formation. The color changes reflect changes in ancient soils and vegetation
during a major global cooling event, approximately 33 million years ago. The
volcanic ash which accumulated here and weathered into clays long ago, also
records the onset of Cascade volcanism.
The Painted Hills are one of the most frequently
photographed areas of Oregon, especially during
wildflower season. During the spring and summer,
a wildflower hotline is maintained by the Painted
Hills Ranger who provides a current report of
what is in bloom.
The wildflower hotline number is

The best time to photograph the Painted Hills
during all seasons is in the evening, near sunset.
Picnic Area
This landscaped area provides
restrooms, water, shaded picnic tables
and exhibits.

Painted Hills Overlook
A stunning viewpoint is also the
gateway to a ½-mile trail allowing
visitors to see the colorful landscape
from different angles.
Painted Cove Trail
A short ¼ mile trail winds around a
crimson and ochre hill, permitting a
close-up view of popcorn-textured
claystones that expand when wet, and
a rhyolite flow that marks the transition
between the Clarno and John Day
Leaf Hill Trail
describes this site where thousands of
A short ¼ mile trail with an exhibit
plant fossils have been removed for
scientific study and where research

Leaf Hill is an example of "inverted
topography" as this present-day hill, is
made of deposits that were once in the
bottom of a lake. Leaf fossils
preserved in lake deposits throughout
the Painted Hills portray changing
deciduous forest communities.
Carroll Rim Trail
A moderately strenuous 1 ½ mile
trail rewards hikers with an
outstanding aerial view of the
Painted Hills, surrounding canyons,
and Sutton Mountain.
For information on rates, please check Booking Info.

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