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Erratic Rock State Natural Site
Erratic rock with Yamhill Valley in background
Type Public, state
Location Yamhill County, Oregon, United States
45°08′24″N 123°17′34″W / 45.1399977°N 123.2929087°W / 45.1399977; -123.2929087Coordinates: 45°08′24″N 123°17′34″W / 45.1399977°N 123.2929087°W / 45.1399977; -123.2929087
Size 4.4 acres (2 ha)
Operated by Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department
Status day use only

Erratic Rock State Natural Site is a state park in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, United States. Featuring a 40-short-ton (36 t) glacial erratic from the Missoula floods, the small park sits atop a foothill of the Northern Oregon Coast Range in Yamhill County between Sheridan and McMinnville off Oregon Route 18. The day use only park is owned and maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.



The pre-historic Missoula floods began in western Montana fifteen to twenty-thousand years ago.[1] These large floods altered the landscape of the Columbia River valley and flooded the Willamette Valley.[1] Many rocks were transported down the Columbia encased in icebergs and deposited from Montana through Idaho, Washington, and Oregon when the flood waters receded and the ice melted.[1]

One of these 40-short-ton (36 t) erratics was deposited on a 250-foot (76 m) tall hill in the Yamhill Valley portion of the Willamette Valley.[2] Purchased from the Duerst and Ramsby families in 1956, the park was originally named the Erratic Rock Wayside.[3] In 1996, the park was one of the state parks selected for closure due to budget problems.[4] The Oregon Legislative Assembly came-up with funding to avoid the closure. The park received a new historical marker along the road in June 2005 in a ceremony featuring state senator Gary George.[5]


Located off Oregon 18, Erratic Rock State Natural Site lies mid-way between Sheridan to the west and McMinnville to the east.[2][6] Geologically, the rock comes from Canada and is the largest glacial erratic rock in the Willamette Valley.[7][8] The rock is argillite believed to be 600,000 million years old and originally part of the sea-floor.[9] It is also the only rock of its type outside of Canada.[10]

In addition to the boulder, the hilltop features views of the Oregon Coast Range and the valley, including vineyards and farms.[6][7][11] There is a .2 miles (320 m) hike along a paved trail to the top of the hill past a vineyard and orchard that provides bird watching opportunities.[9][8] Operated by the state parks department, the park is a day use only facility that includes an interpretive sign and picnic table at the 4.4 acres (2 ha) park.[2][3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Hill, Richard L. Project takes on story of region’s ice-age cataclysms; Four states and others are weighing the best way to explain floods that scoured the Columbia River Gorge and beyond. The Oregonian, November 29, 2000.
  2. ^ a b c Gault, Roy Gault. Ice-age wonder sits about an hour from Salem. Statesman Journal, July 1, 2003.
  3. ^ a b Armstrong, Chester H. Oregon State Parks: History, 1917-1963. [Salem, Or.]: Oregon State Highway Dept, 1965. p. 125-126.
  4. ^ Green, Ashbel S. State may fold tent on some parks. The Oregonian, June 6, 1996.
  5. ^ Saarinen, Yvette (June 18, 2005). "New Erratic Rock marker unveiled". News-Register. Retrieved 2009-08-24.  
  6. ^ a b Haight, Abby. White water, wild winds: The recreation is exceptional. The Oregonian, September 30, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Jones, Melissa L. Oregon’s weird roadside attractions. The Oregonian, August 3, 2003.
  8. ^ a b Erratic Rock State Natural Site unique to the United States. Statesman Journal, September 10, 2002.
  9. ^ a b Bishop, Ellen Morris. Hiking Oregon's Geology. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books, 2004. pp. 100-101.
  10. ^ Oshiro, Gwenda Richards. Road Trip: Sheridan – more than a federal pen. The Oregonian, June 12, 2005.
  11. ^ Church, Foster. Oregon offtrack: The real northwest valley gems: monastery and museum. The Oregonian, June 20, 2004.

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