Mitchell's Plesiosaur


Mitchell, Oregon

Lucky Strike Mine

The Oregon Paleo
Lands Institute

John Day Fossil Beds
National Monument

Travel Oregon

Service Creek Station

John Day Fishing Guides

Kam Wah Chung Museum

Wheeler County

Oregon Fishing and Hunting





Painted Hills Vacation Rentals Sign


Fossil Beds (The Painted Hills)


Sheep Rock


John Day River

Fossil Beds (Painted Hills)


Rafting on the John Day River

Cathedral Rock





     The Painted Hills Vacation Rentals are located in the historical town of Mitchell which features 3 American style restaurants, a gas station, an espresso stand, and a general store with limited selections. The nearest airport is Robert Fields in Redmond, about 1.5 hours away by car. The closest town is Prineville, a 45 minute drive, which has various supermarkets, restaurants, golf courses, antique stores etc.  Most places of interest are reached through spectacular scenic drives and are within a radius of 10 to 50 miles.


     Mitchell was named in 1873 for John Hipple Mitchell, a former U.S. Senator from Oregon. In 1884 the town of Mitchell suffered a raging flood. Water rushed over the bluff above the community, carrying boulders and mud. The town was rebuilt. The community has an Old West ambiance with part of the town situated on bluffs above the lower part.
     Mitchell is known for its spectacular geologic features such as large rock outcrops that tower near town.
     The latest reason for Mitchell's fame, was the discovery of the fossil of a lower jaw of a Plesiosaur in 2003 a few miles from town. The high school of Mitchell received funds to work on a science and art project that helped create a metal replica of this prehistoric 25 foot long underwater creature (Yes, Mitchell used to be under water millions of years ago!) The  impressive sculpture is exhibited in the town of Fossil (about 35 miles from Mitchell) in the Oregon Paleo Institute.


Elevation: 2,650'   
Monthly Ave. Low: 24°F   Monthly Ave. High: 86°F
Hottest Month July           Coldest Month January
Driest Month July             Wettest Month May
Average annual precipitation: 11.570"



  • Swimming, fishing, boating, bird watching, and hiking in the John Day
    River basin

  • Hiking, photographing, painting in the three units of the John day Fossil Beds National Monument (see our photo gallery for a taste of this
    incredible diverse region)
    for more info go to www.nps.gov/joda 

  • Hunting for fossils, thunder eggs, and other unusual stones from prehistoric
    times throughout this area

  • Visiting the Thomas Condon Paleontology Museum 30 miles away for a glimpse of the ancient history of this region (travel on one of Oregon’s great scenic byways to get there).

  • Picking incredible tasting fruit (cherries and apricots in June/July, nectarines and peaches in July/August, and apples and pears in September/October) in the famous Kimberly valley along John Day River (about an hour drive along the scenic byway). Phone number 541-934-2870

  • Visiting the Twickenham school - an original school building of pioneer times – and travel the old Twickenham road.

  • Visiting the Fossil Rodeo and Country Fair in August, or the Painted Hills Festival in September.

  • Explore the Ochoco National Forest with its great hiking trails
    and abundance of wildlife. You can swim in Walton Lake in summer,
    go mushroom hunting for Morels in May, or cross country ski and
    sledging in winter.

  • Check out hunting season- hunting for small and big game!

  • Floating the John Day river: The best time to raft the river is between April and June. Rafts can be rented at Service Creek Stage Stop about 35 minutes by car from Mitchell. Tours with experienced river guides can be organized by one of the two outfitters in the region

  • Visiting the Kam Wah Chung Museum in John Day (1 hour and 50 minutes drive by scenic byway route 26) to learn fascinating facts about Oregon’s pioneer history.




John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument protects one of the longest and most continuous records of evolutionary change and biotic relationships in North America. Here, scientists have unearthed countless fossils of land plants and animals dating back 6 to 54 million years as well as evidence of the dramatic climatic changes that have occurred. The monument includes over 14,000 acres found in 3 widely separated units, the Sheep Rock Unit, Painted Hills Unit and Clarno Unit. The Painted Hills are located 9 miles from Mitchell. Sheep Rock is about 38 miles and houses the monument's visitor center as well as the Thomas Condon Paleontology museum with its large collection of ancient fossils. The Clarno unit is close to Fossil, about an hour drive from Mitchell. All drives are magnificent scenic byways capturing the landscape's diversity and beauty. More info can be obtained on the National Park Service website.

Ochoco National Forest
About 20 miles from Mitchell are the Ochoco Mountains with Evergreen forests and various snow parks offering great opportunities for cross-country skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. In early summer this region is great for morel mushroom hunting, and hiking. You can also visit the Lucky Strike Mine located in the Ochoco National Forest if you like to collect some Thunder Eggs.

John Day River
The John Day is spectacular river with incredible scenery and unspoiled beauty. With its 280 miles of length it is the longest un-dammed river in the Pacific Northwest and is federally protected as a Wild and Scenic River. The basalt formations and bluffs are typical of this region and some of the cliffs and palisades along the shores tower more than 3,000 feet high above the river. The John Day is a favorite for bird watching as it is in the heart of the Pacific Flyway. Look out for Canadian geese, hawks and humming birds. There is great winter Steelhead and bass fishing, with the drifting time beginning in spring running through June. From Mitchell there are various different routes to get to the river and we will be happy to show you our favorite spots for swimming.



CALL 541 462-3921 OR