Day 7: Bend to John Day
(Driving time: 92 miles/4 hours)
Get ready for two more Wonders! You won’t be driving far today, but it will take you some time to get where you’re going.
Head north out of Bend on Highway 97 to the town of Redmond. The restored downtown recently saw the arrival of Wild River Brewing and eagerly awaits the reopening of the Historic Redmond Hotel, a 1928 building slated to get a new lease on life from a Portland developer.
Then it’s on to Smith Rock, which will stop you in your tracks with its beauty. The tuft and basalt spires have drawn world-class rock climbers since the 1980s. You can watch climbers scale the red rock on hundreds of climbing routes, or go for a hike along miles of hiking trails to admire the pretty Crooked River and the high-desert landscape.
Get ready for your fourth Wonder when you head to the Painted Hills, located about 90 minutes east of Smith Rock on Highway 26 and part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Here you’ll find yet another otherworldly landscape, the undulating earth unfolding in hues of ochre, gold and green, formed by volcanic activity 35 million years ago.
Farther east, you’ll find the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, a working research and interpretive center with the second most complete fossil record in the world, documenting the past 55 million years.
For a more recent history lesson, don’t miss the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, a veritable time capsule of an early 20th-century Chinese apothecary shop on the site of what was once Oregon’s largest Chinatown.