Painted Hills Scenic Beauty
April 19, 2021
The beautiful colors of the Painted Hills area
will change with the position of the sun, last rainfall,
temperature, and etc. This sunny blue sky scenic view was taken
after rainfall the night before.
Painted Hills, is one of the three units of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument,
located in Wheeler County, Oregon. It totals 3,132 acres (12.67 km2)
and is located 9 miles (14 km) northwest of Mitchell, Oregon. The
Painted Hills are listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.
Painted Hills is named after the colorful layers of its hills
corresponding to various geological eras, formed when the area was
an ancient river floodplain.
The black soil is lignite that
was vegetative matter that grew along the floodplain. The grey
coloring is mudstone, siltstone, and shale. The red coloring is
laterite soil that formed by floodplain deposits when the area was
warm and humid.
An abundance of fossil remains of early
horses, camels, and rhinoceroses in the Painted Hills unit makes the
area particularly important to vertebrate paleontologists. The
Painted Hills Unit also contains a diverse assemblage of leaf
fossils aging 39-30 million years old called the Bridge Creek Flora,
and a small outcropping of rock containing animal fossils from 30-27
million years ago.
The seasons can also change the look of
the Painted Hills radically. Spring often brings yellow wildflowers
that grow in open areas and sometime even in the ripples of the
hills. Winter can blanket the hills in a white coat, concealing the
vibrant hues until the snow melts, revealing interspersed stripes of
gold and red.
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