Last week we escaped suburbia to explore the next Seventh Wonder of the Oregon on our list, the Painted Hills! We had the crazy idea to do this 9 hour round trip adventure in one day, which made for an extremely long one…so here are some words of wisdom from our experience:

  1. Go during summer instead of winter because sunset is later and you won’t have to deal with ice and/or snow (see end of this post)
  2. Plan a weekend trip and spend the night somewhere nearby, like Bend, OR
  3. Make sure your directions available offline, whether saved on your phone or even a physical map because there is no service for about 50% of the trip! #latergram
    • Bonus: we took a different route home to avoid the ice/rain/snow on the mountain road, but didn’t have our directions available offline so we relied on innate navigational skills and prayers to find our way home safely! (also see end of this post)
  4. The road into the park ends and becomes gravel with some inclines/declines
  5. We went to the overlook point and 3 other trails throughout the park, but you have to drive (see #4 above) about a mile from one to the next

On our way, we made a pit stop at Trillium Lake which had a little more snow than when I was there last a few months ago (

Adventure (1)Adventure (2)

After nearly 5 hours on the road passing through snowy mountains and foggy deserts, we arrived at the Painted Hills!Adventure (3)Adventure (4)Adventure (5)Adventure (6)Adventure (7)

Remember #3 from the beginning of this post? So we successfully avoided the ice/rain/snow on the mountain road, but ended up on a little detour to this gas station in the middle of nowhere!
Adventure (8)

Remember #1 from the beginning of the post? It started raining as we left the Painted Hills, and this is what it looks like one week later!


The Painted Hills in a blanket of white. A frozen rivulet of colored clay tainted water draws a sharp contrast to the otherwise monotone scene. The Painted Hills are beautiful and otherworldly even in the winter time. Please check out my website for holiday gift ideas. I would appreciate your kind support of my work. 🙂 Gary Please check my website for my 2016 workshop schedule. I’m a photographer and a guide licensed by the state of Oregon and permitted by the US Forest Service. All Photos are taken by me and are copyrighted. I conduct tours and photography workshops in the Mount Hood National Forest and the Columbia River Gorge. Contact me if you want to make hay. I’ve lived here all my life know the good spots. Publishers Note: I have a huge portfolio of images from Oregon, Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Contact me for links to stock examples and prices for publication. Interior Designers Note: I have a large portfolio of fine art landscape and macro photography images for interior decoration. Contact me for examples, sizes, medium type and pricing. Thank you! Gary =0) #randallpics #oregon #centraloregon #mitchell #thepaintedhills #johndayfossilbeds #winter #snow #photography #pnw #pacificnorthwest #landscapephotography #guiding #hiking #photographyworkshops #exploreoregon #exploregon #traveloregon #oregonexplored #nikon #outdoors #adventure #camping #pro_ig #landscapephotomag #upperleftusa #bestofpnw #northwestisbest #nikon

A photo posted by Gary Randall (@gary_randall) on