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Painted Hills

Gilliam County: Rolling hills and pioneer heritage

Written by Oregon Media

Gilliam County: Rolling hills and pioneer heritage

Turn south at Arlington and follow Highway 19 as it climbs some 3,000 feet to the heart of the Columbia Plateau and historic downtown Condon, where the Fourth of July parade and celebration is the largest annual event. The John Day River is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in the U.S.—a rafters paradise and anglers heaven that cuts through this wide open landscape dominated by wheat fields on rolling hills that meet seemingly endless skies.

Bike and Kitesurf 

Gilliam County lies within a hour’s drive of three scenic bikeways, but also has hundreds of miles of car-free gravel roads and scenic roadways to explore. Cruise up or down Highway 19 or Highway 206 to Cottonwood Canyon State Park. Windsurfers will want to head to the Port of Arlington to set sail. Standup paddleboarders can rent a board from Arlington Hardware (lessons also available).

historic downtown condon

Seated high atop the Columbia Plateau, Condon is the commercial and cultural heart of Gilliam County. Stroll historic main street along Oregon Route 19 and browse through popular and hard-to-find titles at Powell’s Books. Country Flowers serves more than the name suggests, integrating a boutique and old-fashioned soda fountain.

Gilliam County Historical Museum Gilliam County Historical Museum

This historical museum is more like a real-life trip back in time than a visit to a historical society. Visit an authentic one-room schoolhouse and a brothel-turned-barbershop, each over a century old, at this history interpretation center in Condon. The Museum also showcases famous past residents and Nobel Prize winners Linus Pauling and William Murphy, who are celebrated on Nobel Laureate Day each February. The Gilliam County Historical Museum is open May through October.

Celebration in Gilliam County Artisans Market and Concert in the Park

Condon’s talented artists and artisans come together to offer their works to the public at the artisans market in downtown. The same day, a concert in the park entertains a varied audience of all ages of music lovers.