The Painted Hills & Prairie City
This is part 5 of our trip through eastern Oregon. If you would like to start at the beginning in the Alvord desert click here.
We left the big town of Diamond population 5 and continued north towards Prairie City and the Painted Hills. We would drive straight through the middle of this years largest fire in Oregon. There has become a new ‘season’ here in Oregon. We all call it fire season. Each year around this time multiple fires will burn across the state threatening homes and lives. We were not sure the roads would be open but we had a route and we most definitely wanted to see the Painted Hills.
We called the Hotel Prairie in Prairie city and they welcomed us in for the night. They did not have a restaurant but they did buy us a few drinks in their newly remodeled bar and they happened to have one of my favorite beers on the list.
The hotel has a lovely back patio area with a BBQ so we picked up two Rib Eyes from the local butcher in town and self catered dinner for the night. It would be an early night because, in addition to the fact we are in Prairie City, we wanted to get up before the sunrise to get the best lighting to film the Painted Hills.
Prairie City is a small town with a population of around 1,000 which makes it the largest town we have seen for a few days. It is bordered on one side by the Strawberry Mountain Range which we could see burning in the distance. We would have to wait to do any kind of hiking there. On the other side there are layers of ancient volcanic lava beds and the national park, the John Day Fossil Beds which has three units, one is the Painted Hills.
Prairie City is actually about 93 miles or a two hour drive from the Painted Hills so this might not be the best or nearest location to stay but for us it would work well and the Hotel Prairie is really quite nice. It was built in 1910 and restoration began in 2005. The video below has nice shots of the rooms and the wine bar as well as our dinner!
The next day we got an early start and set off for the painted hills. They are indeed a very unique place to visit. It is not allowed to walk on the hills so they have a walk way built to preserve the delicate terrain.
The video above has a lot more pictures of the Painted Hills as well as the small town of Mitchell, the gateway to the Painted Hills. We also made our way to Sheep Rock which is another unit of the John Day Fossil Beds. There are a few places to stay and eat in Mitchell which is only about 4 miles away from the park making it a much more convenient place to stay then the Hotel Prairie.
The next day we will continue north and stay at one of the more unique accommodations Oregon has to offer, The Riverside School House.