The surreal views of the Carroll Rim Trail

The surreal views of the Carroll Rim Trail

Location: Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Round Trip: 1,6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
GPS Coordinates: N 44 39.117 W 120 16.042
Visitor’s Information Open: all year round

No Pass Required

The Painted Hills Unit is one of three parts /units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. And if the Clarno Unit is one of the most remote and the least visited one, the Painted Hills Unit is the most beautiful part of the National Monument. You don’t need to be scientist interested in paleontology to enjoy the visit to the Painted Hills Unit. The beauty and queerity of the place will satisfy the interest of any occasional traveler. The color of the hills gave the name to the unit – Painted Hills, as when you look at them you get a feeling that some fairytale painter decided to brighten the desert area, coloring the hills delicately in different colors. But in reality these layers of claystone with their different colors reveal us the history of climate change and fluctuations which have been occurring throughout millions of years.

You may explore this amazing unique national monument through several short trails. The trails in the Painted Hills Unit provide the visitors with a variety of incredible views, opening for them fantastic vistas and all-round views of the park from the top of the ridge or showing the way through amazing multicolored hills allowing a close view on them.

The longest trail of the Painted Hills Unit is the Carroll Rim Trail. This 1,6 path(roundtrip) takes the visitors to the top of Carroll Rim, where a viewing point is located. Carroll Rim is quite a high ridge which comprises John Day ignimbrite, which is more often called as “welded tuff”. The path ascends along the ridge side until it reaches its top, where an overlook is located. Here you may enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding rounded hills and valleys, admiring the color change. And if you look to the east you will see a fascinating Sutton Mountain.
At the top or the rim there is also a bench, where you may sit and have a rest after climbing the hill, enjoying at the same time the surreal views surrounding you.


Finding the trailhead:

If you are travelling from Prineville, go about 45,2 miles east by US 26, until you reach the connection with Burnt Ranch Road. At this road junction you will see a sign telling “John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – Painted Hills Unit”. At this sign you should take a left turn (to the north) and drive further 5,7 miles. Then after taking again a left turn to the Bear Creek Road, you should drive about 0,9 miles more until the turnoff to the Carroll Rim Trailhead.


Photo: Roman Khomlyak
Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska
Information: Svetlana Baranova

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