• Two

    John Day Fossil Beds

    National Monument Oregon

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  • Hwy. 26 open between Prineville and Mitchell, OR - Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    US26 mile posts 34.8 To 53 affected, estimated delay of 20 minutes - 2 hrs. Traffic is being piloted through area. Use caution and expect delays. Air quality in the area is poor. Click the More link for fire and road info for all three units of the park More »


Image of a racer snake on a sagebrush

A racer coils around sagebrush at twilight.

Alan St. John

Some of the most commonly seen animals during summer in the monument are reptiles, especially lizards. During winter months, reptiles may hibernate, or in the case of snakes, will den up together in a rocky cave and go into an inactive torpor.

Western rattlesnakes live throughout the Fossil Beds and can be dangerous, though they tend to shy away from people by heading off before they are seen. If surprised or threatened though, they will sound the rattling noise they are named after. Most snakes in the monument are other varieties that pose no threat, such as garter snakes, gopher snakes, and blue racers.

Snakes play a significant role in controlling rodent populations. Lizards help keep insect populations in check. Even those who do not particularly like reptiles benefit from their presence.

Did You Know?

Image of an artistic rendition of a brontothere,

Brontotheres, large relatives of horses and rhinoceros, once lived on the North American continent.