John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Amphibians At John Day Fossil Beds National Monument


The John Day Fossil Beds will never be known as an amphibian mecca. But it does harbor some unique seeps and springs within the boundaries that provide "islands" of habitat for amphibians.

Predation by birds, fish and the introduced bullfrog hamper most amphibians along the John Day River. But the springs and seeps tucked back into the surrounding hills and mountains allow for several species of amphibians to continue their life cycles.

The western toad, spade foot toad, Pacific tree frog, and long-toed salamander can all thrive in moist pockets scattered around the dry countryside. With the male toads and frogs doing all of the vocalizing, this is often the best way to find which sites have amphibians and to determine which species are represented.

Amphibians are animals that have two life stages, so many visitors only get to see either the tadpole or the adult stage depending on the time of the summer they visit.

The early summer vocalizing by the males leads to the mating and subsequent egg laying of the females. These eggs typically are laid in strings or large egg masses that float in water or get attached to vegetation. The eggs develop and hatch into the tadpole or larval stage. Then a metamorphosis occurs over the next several weeks as the aquatic, larval stage changes into the terrestrial, adult stage. These adults will then typically burrow into the mud surrounding the spring to hibernate over the winter and then start the cycle all over again.

The John Day Fossil Beds are preparing for a strong effort to map the springs and seeps of the monument and to gather base-line data on the amphibians using each site. This will allow for a more foc


The Visitor Center at the Sheep Rock Unit is located on Highway 19 between the towns of Dayville and Kimberly, 2 miles from the junction of Highway 26 and Highway 19.

The Painted Hills Unit is located 9 miles northwest of of the town of Mitchell, just off Highway 26. There is no visitor center at this unit.

The Clarno Unit is located 20 miles west of the town of Fossil. along Highway 218. There is no visitor center at this unit.