I've been wanting to go to the Painted Hills since I first moved to Oregon. July was a hot time to go, but it was worth the sweat and the dust. I saw many monumental rock formations while exploring the John Day Fossil Beds, but the Painted Hills were by far the most beautiful and bizarre. I might have gone to a different planet and not a national park - I'm still trying to understand what I saw.
The John Day Fossil Beds cover a large area of central Oregon. Brandon and I drove miles between units to see formations that varied by color depending on age. It was fascinating but difficult to visualize how much of Oregon that is now a high desert used to be a dense rain forest.
If you're in Oregon and haven't gone, I highly recommend it. We camped near the small town of Dayville in the middle of nowhere with hardly anyone around. That alone was worth the trip. The clear air, the stars, the bats, the views, and the sunsets filled me with peace.
More pictures to see here.