Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Painted Hills - Another World

After a full day of visiting the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument  and seeing  the Sheep Rock Unit, Clarno Unit, and driving about 100 miles along the scenic John Day River to and from our camp site, I was finally almost to my favorite destination, the Painted Hills. Lucy had been suitably impressed with the area and called stops as least as often as I did. She also wanted to hike every trail we came across.

"This sure doesn't look like much" was Lucy's comment just before we rounded a corner on the access road to the Painted Hills. Then we hit that first red hill and her next comments were "WOW"  and "STOP". After we got our fill of the views there, we drove into the refuge and immediately had to stop again for pictures. We ended up looking in all the corners of the unit..  It didn't really matter that I'd been there a few months ago - it was all still magical.  In fact, I think I had about 250 pictures on my camera when I finished up there.

The weather prediction had been for rain all weekend but we had mostly clear, or interestingly cloudy skys for most of the morning. Then, just as we finished up, it turned completely cloudy and remained that way for most of the trip home.  But as we stopped for Pizza in Burns, the clouds broke and we had a beautiful sunset.

Below are a few of the pictures I took there. .  If you want to see more, check out my album on Picassa. Words can not describe this magnificent site and pictures can't evoke the huge sense of awe when you are in this place.


 The clays here hold water tightly but when they are dry, which is most of the year, they are dark and have a popcorn texture. Then they get smooth and show as pastel colors when they are full of water. They hold water so tightly, that plants can't grow on the pure clays.













We had one more small adventure on the way home - we got to help herd cattle down the road towards their home ranch.  One of the signs of fall here are cattle being driven or herded from public lands to their home ranches where they will eat hay until spring. We followed them for about fifteen minutes and then worked our way through them for another fifteen minutes or so.


And we didn't find out about an adventure we could have had in the town of Fossil, which we drove through, until we were reading a little newspaper in the pizza restaurant in Burns.   You can hunt fossils at Oregon's only public fossil beds, the Wheeler High School Fossil Beds. For $5.00, you can find fossils, perhaps learn about what they are, and take home three of them.

And finally, one more exciting event in my life.  After having a blonde/senior moment and not being able to upload pictures in the National Wildlife Refuge Association Photography Contest,  I asked for help.  The blog editor started reading my blog and asked me to be a guest blogger - this while I was on the way home from Yellowstone. It was published this week. If you would like to read it, click here.