John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon, USA by David DesRochers

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Picture Story

Located In the high desert region of central Oregon lies an unlikely and unexpected landscape. The Painted Hills, boasting sublime colors and gorgeous patterns, is the star attraction of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The Oregon high desert is a region located east of the Cascade Range and south of the Blue Mountains, in the central and eastern parts of the state. The Painted Hills area is located 3.5 miles west of the small town of Mitchell. The area averages 13 inches of rain and 9 inches of snow per year.

I visited the Painted Hills in 2011 and 2014 as a side trip before exploration the Eastern Cascades. Lodging in Mitchell is limited but there are a few campgrounds in the area if you don’t mind pitching a tent.

The most interesting area to photograph is easy to access. Short hikes and roadside pull offs can get you in position to capture beautiful images of this unique landscape. In addition to using my 24 – 105 zoom lens, I found that my 70 – 200 MM lens with a 1.4X converter was ideal for capturing close ups of the amazing patterns and colors that represent a landscape that has evolved over millions of years.


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