A slow drive through Central Oregon, took us from Redmond along State Hwy 126 to Prineville. Once in Prineville, we followed US Hwy 26 northeast through the scenic ponderosa pine forests of the Ochocos Mountains.
About 46 miles from Prineville, we stopped in the small town of Mitchell hoping to find a tradition breakfast with biscuits and hot coffee.
We found exactly that at the Bridge Creek Cafe on US Hwy 26, just west of town. The cafe seems to be the favorite of motorcyclists who tour along many of the two-lane highways in the region.
Mitchell, population around 160, was established in the 1860’s as a stage stop along the Dalles Military Road. The town was named in 1873 for John H. Mitchell, a former Oregon Senator.
It is also the Gateway to the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and hosts the Painted Hills Festival every Labor Day weekend.
The Painted Hills Unit contains 3,132 acres of scenic marvels unique even in the Pacific Northwest.
It is said that the Painted Hills were formed “over millions of years, the weathering of volcanic ash under varying climate regimes resulted in vividly-hued rock layers of red, pink, bronze, tan and black.”
They are a favorite subject of photographers and painters and definitely worth the drive. Outdoor exhibits and a picnic area are also available for visitors.