Photography Destination – John Day Painted Hills Unit

In the mountains east of Prineville, Or, the small town of Mitchell is located 15 minutes from the John Day Painted Hills Unit.  The town of Mitchell has a population of 120 people, and is located directly on Highway 26.  The Oregon Hotel offers affordable accommodations, and is pleasant to stay.  Main Street is across the creek from the main highway.  During our stay, it was quiet and peaceful.  Temperatures in the summer reach the 90 – 100 range, and July is the hottest month.  With the aspen in the hills, fall would be a beautiful time to catch the colorful hills, and fall colors.

The area is home to three separate units, and all are home to fossils, beautiful landscapes and wildlife.  We saw numerous Ravens, Hawks, Falcons, Deer and other wildlife.

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This is Mitchell, OR, which is located about 15 minutes from the Painted Hills Unit. This is just before sunset.

The Painted Hills are layers of volcanic ash from the time the Cascade Mountains were young.  Today, we see these hills as layers of reds, yellows, whites, blacks and greens.  The sunlight changes the colors of the hills throughout the day.  The sunlight becomes harsh around 9 am in the summer.  It has the best color during the early morning hours, and later in the evening.  The photograph below was taken a little after 6:30 am.  I polarized filter is very useful in this location.

copyright Karen Ulvestad
These hills are bathed in early morning light. They are located in the John Day Painted Hills Unit in Eastern Oregon.

Besides sweeping landscapes and panoramic, the area lends itself to abstract compositions.  The vibrant colors, textures and shapes create a landscape filled with possibilities.  The light-colored boardwalk (s) create a brilliant contrast to the colors of the hills.  In the photo below, this is the boardwalk through color cove.

More later, and happy shooting. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad
The trails are well marked, and some are partially boardwalks.


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