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    Da Painted Hills a Grand Prismatic Spring: itinerario West Coast parte 3

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    Joel Fulleda

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    With this article we conclude our West Coast itinerary in search of unusual natural wonders: after crossing California and Nevada we landed in Oregon, where we admired the Crater Lake National Park, the imposing sea dunes, Thor's well and the ghostly Lava Lands (you didn't miss the last episode, right? In case go to the article From Crater Lake to Lava Lands).

    Now we reserve one last step in Oregon to then point towards theIdaho and then the Wyoming. What awaits us? Again truly unusual natural spectacles, such as extravagant painted mountains (Painted Hills), lunar craters (Craters of the Moon) and to conclude a thermal spring with a fascinating rainbow color, one of the most amazing natural attractions in America (Grand Prismatic Spring).

    Here is the interactive map of this last part of the itinerary (for the complete itinerary go to the end of the article).


    • Stage 1: the painted mountains Painted Hills, a photographer's paradise
    • Stage 2: Craters of the Moon: welcome to the moon!
    • Stage 3: Grand Prismatic Spring, a hot spring surrounded by the rainbow
    • Finally: itinerary recap

    Stage 1: the painted mountains Painted Hills, a photographer's paradise

    In the middle of Oregon, about 3 hours from our last stop (Big Obsidian Flow), stretches the John Day Fossil Beds, a park particularly known for the considerable number of fossils, but also for a series of unusual natural beauties such as the natural amphitheater Blue Basin, the huge rock palisades of Clarno, the green-tinged rocks of the Sheep Rock and the painted hills named not by chance Painted Hills.

    The latter in particular, with their surprising colors that make them resemble gigantic sand castles, are a real paradise for photographers. We keep in mind the advice of the National Park Service:

    The yellow, gold, black and red colors of the Painted Hills are mesmerizing at all hours of the day, but the best lighting for photography is in the late afternoon. Changes in light and humidity can greatly affect the tones and hues of the hills.

    The Painted Hills are located 14km northwest of Mitchell, after US-26. To know how to visit them, read our in-depth study on Painted Hills e John Day Fossil Beds.

    Stage 2: Craters of the Moon: welcome to the moon!

    Let's move east now, crossing Idaho, one of the most fascinating and underrated states in the States, and let's head towards the most surreal natural spectacle of the state: Craters of the Moon National Monument, an expanse of lava cones, craters, caves, channels of molten lava, mounds of earth and trees with twisted shapes that truly gives the impression of being on the moon.

    This lunar landscape is truly impressive and can be accessed by paying a weekly ticket ($ 8 for cars, $ 4 for others). A winding road of 11 km crosses the park showing the lava fields, but beware: it is only open from the end of April to mid-November.

    There are some marked trails, while in other cases, for excursions in remote areas, a specific permit (wilderness permit) is required. In any case, do not embark on the adventure in unconventional paths because it could be dangerous (some rocks can be sharp and at high temperatures).

    One of the attractions that you must not miss Craters of the Moon is the steep climb of 0,8 km that leads to the top of theHell Cone, a volcanic cone from which you can enjoy a splendid view over the whole region.

    Other interesting points are the North Crater Flow and Devils Orchard. For more details read our guide to Craters of the Moon.

    Stage 3: Grand Prismatic Spring, a hot spring surrounded by the rainbow

    Il Grand Prismatic Spring, in the Midway Geyser Basin, is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone Park, approximately 112,8 meters in diameter and over 37 meters deep.

    It is one of the most incredible natural wonders in the United States, which, with its rainbow coloring, has been attracting explorers, scientists and tourists for 200 years.

    The intensity of colors comes from bacteria and microbes that grow along the edges of the spring, while the purity of the water in the center of this natural pool has a lively and rather rare blue tint.

    If by chance you feel like taking a little grebe, forget it: the temperature is around 160 ° C. Find all the information to visit it in our article on Grand Prismatic Spring.

    Obviously, since you are in the area, you can continue your visit throughout Yellowstone Park, one of the most fascinating national parks in America, and then eventually continue exploring the state of Wyoming by following our suggestions on what to see in Wyoming.

    For tips on staying overnight you can read our guide on where to sleep in Yellowstone.

    Finally: itinerary recap

    So here we are at the end of this itinerary in 3 episodes, which certainly is not among the most popular itineraries, but which can be an excellent alternative to enjoy natural beauty outside the classic routes, thus contributing to the discovery of a piece of America unknown to most.

    Below you will find the complete itinerary and the links to read the first 2 parts of the itinerary:

    Part 1: Unknown Wonders of America: An Unusual West Coast Itinerary 

    Part 2: From Crater Lake to the Lava Lands: an unusual West Coast itinerary

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