Depending on weather conditions in the winter, one or more areas of John Day Fossil Beds may be closed if the roads are not open or passable.
The Painted Ridge area is off limits to visitors in order to prevent the fragile hills from being damaged.
The trail is very popular due to its short length, but it's free of rocks and obstacles.
The Painted Hills Overlook is a short trail that leads out to an overlook of Painted Ridge in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The hills in the ridge are bright red and yellow, with shades of black and brown mixed in that reflect various ecological eras of the region. There is ample parking at the trailhead and information plaques that provide details on the history of the landscape and why the Painted Hills have their red, yellow, and black colors.
The trail departs the parking area and follows a gravel trail as it climbs a hill overlooking Painted Ridge. There is a bench a short distance up the trail where you can take a break and enjoy the view of the surrounding hillsides. Painted Ridge, a series of yellow and red clay hills stretch out before you. As you continue uphill, views on the right side showcase the landscape in the rest of the monument stretch out before you. There are several areas off to the left for good photos as the trail continues to climb up a ridge. The trail finally ends at another bench that overlooks the ridge.
There is fence the indicates that it's the end of the run and you should proceed no further as it could damage the fragile landscape that exists there. From here, you get great views of the surrounding area and can see the Carroll Rim Trail
as it climbs the hill on the other side of the road. Take a few minutes to enjoy the view before you return to your car via the same same path that you traveled.
This is a short trail that provides good views of Painted Ridge, which is off limits to visitors in an effort to preserve the beautiful, fragile hills that the unit is named for.
Hawks and turkey vultures can be seen soaring about the hills.