Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds – Carroll Rim Trail


While staying at the Wilson Ranches B&B near Fossil, OR we spent a few days visiting the very interesting and wide-spread units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The second evening of our stay was met with a dramatic thunder and lightning storm. With no nearby city to light up the sky, the bolts of lightning were spectacular against the darkening sky at sunset. Peals of thunder reverberated down the Butte Creek Valley.

During the night it rained off and on. I had read that the Painted Hills were at their best after a period of rain, if the sun came out afterwards. This is due to the compressed volcanic ash absorbing the rainwater, bringing out the vivid yellows, golds, blacks, and reds of the soil.

To test the theory, we ventured to the Painted Hills Unit on the third day of our visit. Indeed, the colors of the Painted Hills were at their best. The sun broke out of the clouds from time to time, providing good light for taking photos.

There are five trails in the Unit that we hiked, the Painted Hills Overlook, Carroll Rim, Painted Cove, Red Hills and Leaf Hill. The following photos are from the three-fourths mile climb to the Carrroll Rim overlooking the Painted Hills.

Looking down at the Painted Hills from the Carroll Rim

Looking down at the Painted Hills from the Carroll Rim

Trail leading to the Carroll Rim

Trail leading to the Carroll Rim

Looking down to the Painted Hills

Looking down to the Painted Hills

Basalt Capstone

Basalt Capstone

Trail coming down from Carroll Rim

Trail coming down from Carroll Rim

Categories: Central Oregon Outings

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