What sorcery is this?” You might be confused the first time you see these colorful hills. But calm down, you’re not stuck in a landscape painting – you’re just in Wheeler County, Oregon’s Painted Hills, a unit in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
The hills aren’t painted on purpose. It’s a product of nature that has been through various geological eras, formed 35 million years ago. This was just a river plain that gradually sculpted and airbrushed into layers of ash filling the place with splashes of colors, thanks to ancient eruptions. Now see each colored-layer composed by different minerals: lignite for black; mudstone, siltstone, and shale for gray; and laterite soil for red and orange.
The hills beautifully shift from light colors too intense throughout the day, in different seasons, and in various sun angles. That’s why this is a favorite not only among travelers but among photographers and artists as well. A single visit isn’t enough for you to fully see this amazing masterpiece.
After the Painted Hills, visit John Day Fossil Beds’ other units like Sheep Rock and Clarno.