The Painted Hills, Oregon

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Kev and I just returned from ten of the most gorgeous, exciting, refreshing, wonderful days in the breathtaking state of Oregon. I feel so truly lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity this past week and a half. I got to bring my husband, we got to spend ten incredible days in Oregon, and later we got to meet up with two of my favorite blogging families and hang out for a long weekend in a posh hotel in Portland. Thank you *so* much to Travel Oregon for sending us on this trip. Travel Oregon (the Oregon Tourism Board) wanted to share the unique attractions, natural wonders, and incredible beauty their state has to offer, so they invited us to come on a 10-day road trip through Oregon. We got to choose where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see and do, and after many Google searches and pouring over Pinterest we planned our itinerary. And Travel Oregon set it up for us. I could not believe it was real.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Our first stop was the Painted Hills, about two hours outside of Bend, Oregon. I could not believe my eyes as soon as I stepped out of the car!

The Painted Hills, Oregon

I was, and still am, in awe of this completely and totally unique terrain.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

And look at these hills!

The Painted Hills, Oregon

We pulled onto the dry, dusty road, and I immediately hopped out of the car and took a photo in all directions.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

I actually for once remembered to use my polarizing filter! So all these photos were taken using a B+W Circular Polarizer filter. And don’t forget, you can always click on any photo to see the camera, lens, and settings I used for that photo.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

A polarizing filter will add POP and saturation to your photos. I love using a polarizing filter for landscape photos and on sunny days with blue skies, because blue skies become very, very blue! I love the effect it has! Here’s another great example of deep blue skies when I used my polarizing filter.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

It’s also important to note which direction you’re shooting and where the sun is. It was late afternoon, so you’ll notice that the photos taken looking east, with the sun at my back have a vibrant, deeply saturated, bright blue sky. But the photos taken looking west, into the sun, have a lighter, almost white sky. And photos taken looking north or south are kind of in-between. I try to shoot with the sun at my back as much as possible so I can have that crisp blue sky! (I’m looking south here.)

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Polarizing filters vary drastically in price, but be choosy about which one you put on your lens. There’s no sense in buying an expensive lens just to cover it up with a cheap filter. It WILL lessen the quality of your photos.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Ahh, here’s a better example of that deep blue sky! I’m looking east here.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

One more important thing about filters. They come in different sizes, so you’ll want to be sure to get the correct size to fit your lens. If you have more than one lens, they may not be the same size. Luckily for me, my two most-used lenses are the same size, so I can use the same filter for both of them. But it wouldn’t fit my other lenses, so if I wanted to use a polarizing filter for those lenses, I’d have to buy a whole new filter. As I said earlier, a good filter can be expensive, so if you’re considering purchasing one, be sure to buy the size for the lens you plan to use with it the most! :)

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Last thing about filters. Really this time. Unfortunately, it can be kind of tricky to figure out what size filter you need. It may not even say it on your lens. What I do is find the lens on, then look under the Recommended Accessories. It will have a variety of filters which will all tell you the size. The filter size is noted by a two-digit number followed by “mm”. For example, “Canon 77mm Multi Coated Circular Polarizer Glass Filter for Canon 24-70mm.” 77mm is the filter size, 24-70mm if your focal length. If you’re confused, be sure to read this, and you will have a much better understanding of what all those numbers on your lens mean! :)

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Back to the hills. Can you believe these hills??!

The Painted Hills, Oregon

I mean, really. How breathtaking are they??!

The Painted Hills, Oregon

I could not get over them. It’s almost like being on another planet.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Kevin said they looked like feet.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

I’m pretty sure that’s why I married him.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

They look so soft and velvety.

The Painted Hills, Oregon


The Painted Hills, Oregon

The Painted Hills have a few easy walking trails to explore, for views of the hills at different angles.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

This one is the Overlook Trail.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

And here was our up-close and personal view of the brilliant red, gold, and lavender hills on the Painted Cove Trail.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

It’s very, very dry out there, but fortunately there’s a rest area with bathrooms and water fountains at the beginning of the park. We had to fill up our water bottles a few times!

The Painted Hills, Oregon

The hills are best viewed in late afternoon, which is just perfect because you can stick around to watch the sunset.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Fiery sky.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

It is just stunning as the sun sets over the hills.

The Painted Hills, Oregon

Hello, Oregon.

Travel Oregon Map from #travel

Here’s a map of where all we explored in Oregon. We started our trip at the Painted Hills, then headed for the active town of Bend, stunning Crater Lake, the peaceful beach at Bandon, drove up the rocky coast to Cape Perpetua, and finally met up with our fellow blogging friends and Oregon travelers in Portland. Stay tuned for the next installment of photos from our adventure at Smith Rock in Bend! :)

How To Get There:

Painted Hills Overlook
37375 Bear Creek Road, Mitchell, OR

Until next time! xoxo


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46 Responses
  1. Kim

    I just got a polarizing filter (actually the exact same one you have based off this post!) but I’m having some trouble figuring out how to use it. I know angle of light/sun has to do with it like you said. I feel like I’m trying to angle my camera, and twisting the lens, but nothing is happening. Do you have another guide or tutorial website that you’d refer me to for help? As you know the B&W lenses don’t come with any instructions and their website isn’t super helpful because most of it is in German. Any thoughts/help would be much appreciated!

  2. Kristy

    These pictures of your Oregon Vacation are unbelievable!! I had no idea Oregon was so beautiful! The pictures almost don’t look real. They look like a post card. How wonderful God’s creation is! You have a great eye for capturing it too!

  3. Ann

    I have to admit no small amount of jealousy for your adventures! Wow! As an east coast girl born and raised, I have never seen anything like the painted hills. How spectacular! Love traveling vicariously through your photos.

  4. Kim Hogan

    WOW. so beautiful they almost don’t look real. If the photos are breathtaking, seeing it in person had to leave you speechless. Thanks for sharing.

    God Bless,
    Kimmie H <3

  5. Kaity

    oh wow! this scenery…it just takes my breath away. I mean, the colors in those hills?? gorgeous. I wouldn’t have expected to see this is Oregon – looks more like a southwest kind of thing to me. geography can be so surprising sometimes.

  6. Chris

    Your pictures are gorgeous & so is the landscape. The hills look like someone laid a blanket over them & sprinkled them with colored dust or sand. Do you know what produces the colors on the hills?

  7. Erin @ Texanerin Baking

    It does look like another planet! The Northwest was my last US trip and now these and your Instagram pictures are making me want to go back. And I love my polarizing filter! I was tempted to get a $20 one but am happy I went with a more expensive one. And it does amazing things with shadows when taking pictures of food! Love it and I have to admit I never bother taking it off. I guess that’s not a good thing. Oh well. My pictures survive.

  8. A.R.

    Wow! I can’t wait to see your pictures of crater lake :) I only went there once but i remember it was the most amazing blue. Sigh. Thanks for your tips on the polarizing lens’. These photos are inspiring!

  9. Alli

    Wow, great photos! I’ve lived in OR for 5 years now and I didn’t even know about the painted hills! I’m so excited to read the rest of your OR posts – especially when you get to Portland where I am!

  10. Jessica

    Beautiful photos! We lived in Coos Bay, Oregon for two years, not far from Bandon. Beautiful beaches. We explored Crater Lake, Multnomah Falls, and Portland when we lived in the NW but we never saw the Painted Hills. You’ve definitely given me something to put on the Bucket List. I look forward to seeing more of your adventures in Oregon. :-)

  11. Anne

    Once again, Amanda, you have taken stunningly beautiful photos of your destination! I had never even heard of the Painted Hills in Oregon, so you’ve given me a geograph lesson as well! I L-O-V-E your “travelogue” posts… they are spectacular!

  12. Chelle Chapman

    WOW! Stunning photos!!! Thanks for always sharing your beautiful techniques w/ others!! BTW, on your hand drawn map, what is the font used for the surrounding states? LOVE that font!!!
    Thanx in advance!!!

  13. Suzanne Shepherd

    Gorgeous post, Amanda! We were in Oregon last week, too. It had been about 9 years since I’d been there and I had forgotten how beautiful and diverse it is. Thanks for these stunning photos!

  14. Maria

    Love your photos! Sad we didn’t get to go here, I guess we will have to go back:) Loved seeing you guys and can’t wait for your other posts! xo

  15. Lisa @ Floating Along...

    Wow!! Your pictures are amazing!! This post makes me want to visit right now! And I appreciate all your helpful photography tips along the way – thank you!

  16. Anele @ Success Along the Weigh

    Absolutely gorgeous! I never knew such a thing existed. The one close up pic on the trail looks like candy corn. Um, I may have a candy corn addiction.

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.


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