Priest Hole Recreation Site

Primitive camping opportunities exist within the Priest Hole area along the John Day Wild and Scenic River. Please help take care of this beautiful resource by using the restroom facilities, by packing out garbage including organics such as fruit peelings and nutshells, and by only driving and camping along open roads. A fire pan is required if having a campfire when fires are allowed in order keep the area pristine and attractive to others.

Know Before You Go:

  • Open YEAR ROUND but the rough road can make access difficult in winter.
  • ACCESSIBILITY is primitive and not easily accessible for people with disabilities.
  • NO FEES for camping. A free paper permit found at kiosks is required to float the one mile section of river around Priest Hole. There is one toilet; NO potable water, trash cans or campsite amenities.
  • PETS ARE ALLOWED under owner control. Watch for rattlesnakes.
  • Fire restrictions run June 1 – October 15 (liquid gas or propane only).
  • When fire restrictions are not in place, campfires are allowed ONLY in raised, metal fire pans. Hundreds of rock fire rings are found each year, scaring the ground and creating resource damage. Please help us preserve this precious resource.
  • Please bring your own fire wood. Cutting vegetation, including standing dead vegetation is not allowed. 

Point of Interest:

Priest Hole is a local favorite for fishing and swimming. Stopping here is a natural part of a visit to the Painted Hills, Sutton Mountain Back Country Byway and eastern Oregon!


Priest Hole Recreation Site on the John Day River
Priest Hole Recreation Site on the John Day River
Bureau of Land Management
Relaxing at Priest Hole Recreation SIte
Relaxing at Priest Hole Recreation SIte

Accessibility Description (ABA/ADA)

Priest Hole Recreation Site is primitive and not easily accessible for people with disabilities.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips


Iconograph of two people wearing backpacks and using walking sticks
Iconograph of a person looking through a scope on a rifle
Iconograph of a tent
Iconograph of a fish head and a fishing hook on a line
Iconograph of a waves of water
Iconograph of an evergreen tree


Prineville District Office
3050 N.E. 3rd St.

Geographic Coordinates

44.739287, -120.271366


Priest Hole is located on the John Day River about 12 miles from Mitchell, Oregon. From Prineville, head east on Highway 26 and turn north on Burnt Ranch Road toward the John Day Fossil Beds, Painted Hills Unit. Pass the Painted Hills and follow the gravel road for three miles. Take a right (uphill) at the junction of Priest Hole or Burnt Ranch Rec Sites. From there, take a left downhill, following the sign to Priest Hole.


No fees for camping or floating the one-mile section around Priest Hole.