Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Bed area

Location: Descutes County RV Park (el. 3,000 ft); Redmond, Oregon

(click pictures to enlarge)
(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 Cell Phone)

Yesterday was a day trip of about 120 miles, round trip, to the Painted Hills portion of the John Day Fossil Beds. John Day was a fur trapper that got lost and robbed by Indians near the mouth of the river that bears his name today. I've read a lot of the information on this area and some of it makes sense while other parts of it are still trying to sink into my head. I won't go into a long dissertation and will just briefly outline some of the opinions, that somehow tend to become facts over time.

The short story goes, about 40 million years ago, this area of Oregon was a coastal type forest. The mountains between here and the coast had yet to form so this area was on the Pacific Coast. Plants and animals were everywhere. A few million years later, the Cascade Mountains were formed which blocked much of the rain from reaching this area, just as they do today. This lack of rain slowly turned the area into a more arid landscape. During and after the formation of the Cascades, many volcanoes associated with it erupted repeatedly for a very long time. They spewed ash and minerals into the air. The prevailing easterly winds blew the ash to where it fell to the ground in what is now the John Day Fossil Beds. The ash covered plants and dead animals with ash, sometimes 100's of feet deep, thereby persevering them as fossils to be found today. That is about as short as I can make the story. 

Whatever happened, the colorful hills are very pretty and pictures just doesn't capture their truly awe-inspiring beauty. The pictures include those of the trip to John Day as well.

I stopped at this pull-off of the highway that was overlooking a large mountain lake. It was a great view while I enjoyed my nutritious bologna sandwich and Frito's. :) 

This and the next couple pictures show the change in country from Redmond up to and through the Ochoco National Forest area. Ochoco was rocked last year by a major forest fire, but from what I saw it is recovering quickly.

More of the changes

A few more changes with snow in the background

There are still fertile areas for crops and cattle even though the countryside is becoming more arid.

The road into the Painted Hills area. There were only a couple other people in the park area. It was very secluded and quiet.

The first "painted" hill. The different color are a result of the different minerals in the soils. This is the same as when I visited the Pictured Rocks in Lake Superior last year.

More Painted Hills

This was the office for the National Forest Ranger, but it was locked up tight. The bathrooms were open though.

More Painted Hills

And more

Just about to the end

I found a nice bench to sit and see most all of the park. No one was around and it was so quiet you could hear your own heart beating. The weather was perfect at 60 degrees, no breeze, and mostly clear sky. 

I saw this guy as I was heading to the park. He made it this far by the time I was leaving the park. The guy is in the front is pulling a "rickshaw" type wagon. I'm not sure why the car stopped unless he thought the guy needed help. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.


  1. Same No Ranger office as years past but a new bench.
    The Old bench was well used and falling down. I really enjoyed that area.

  2. Looks like that might be a Mormon Hand Cart.
    Great photos of an interesting area.