Priest Hole to Mitchell Loop

(1) Overview

This route begins at the Priest Hole Recreation Site and campground on the banks of the John Day River and heads south to the town of Mitchell (17 miles; + 1730'), passing by the Painted Hills. The return route to Priest Hole goes through a dramatic canyon of basalt (26 miles; +1760). The total route is 43 miles with 3500' of climbing, and it is 33% unpaved. While the route could be done in one day, it also offers the possibility of an overnight stay in Mitchell. Additional miles could be added to the first day with a ride within the Painted Hills National Monument. Most of this route follows BLM's Sutton Mountain Backcountry Byway (see brochure and map). About 27 miles of this route are part of the Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway.

(2) Route

(3) Two day option

Day 1: Priest Hole to Mitchell (17 miles; + 1730')

Day 2: Mitchell to Priest Hole (26 miles; +1760)

(4) Priest Hole Recreation Site

Priest Hole Recreation Site and campground is in a dramatic setting on the banks of the John Day River. It is operated by BLM. There is one toilet. There is no potable water, trash cans, or campsite amenities. Other BLM campsites relatively nearby on the John Day River include Burnt Ranch and Lower Burnt Ranch (6 to 7 miles to the west). 

(5) Camping and lodging in Mitchell

See options for camping and lodging in Mitchell.

(6) Sutton Mountain Backcountry Byway