"A Very Big Rock - but Not as Big as it Used to Be" Erratic Rock Wayside by glabah

Erratic Rock Wayside Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 18 photos

Yes, as a matter of fact, Erratic Rock is in fact a very large rock, perched on the side of a hill overlooking the transition area that is between the Willamette Valley and the coast range. This particular area of the foothills is known as the Yamhill River valley, though in a broader sense the rock is referred to as being an artifact of the Willamette Valley.

However, it is nowhere near as large as it used to be. According to the sign at the entrance, over the course of the years vandals wishing to take home pieces of the rock have removed some 70 tons of the rock - meaning that at one time it was more than twice the size it is now.

How did it come to be perched on the side of this hill? It was originally from Montana, and during the great Missoula Floods it got washed away from its original home. One theory is that it may have become entrapped in some of the ice flows that came from the floods. It is a "glacial erratic" in other words, and thus the name of this little corner of the Oregon State Parks system.

Whatever the method of transport was, this rock is a relic of an age not so very long ago (the great Missoula Floods were in the thousands of years ago, not the millions of years ago usually used for measuring such events) that formed the Willamette Valley into what it is today. It shows how sometimes the earth can form in very rapid and powerful ways, and should give us pause to think about what might happen in the future if such rapid and vast and powerful forces be seen at work.

About the only thing to do here is walk up the paved trail and look at the rock and the surrounding Yamhill River valley. Getting here can be a little tricky, as the only signs on highway 18 say "Glacial Rock" and they are only visible by those coming from the north.

A Park of Many Names - for doing further research

For those doing further research, you have your choice of names to chase.

You will find that this park is called by a number of names. Here on VirtualTourist it is called "Erratic Rock Wayside" and that is what I have called it here. However, on some of the maps it is called "Erratic Rock State Park" and it is in fact operated by the Oregon State Parks system, though the signs leading to it are not the traditional Oregon State Parks signs. It has also been called "Erratic Rock State Wayside" and "Erratic Rock State Natural Site" which is the name that is used on the official state parks web site as the name of the location. Thus, some web sites refer to it as "Erratic Rock SNS" as well.

I have put the links to the official state web site and their telephone number on the Erratic Rock Things To Do tip, which lists all both things to do here.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:great views of the Yamhill valley, distant from traffic noise on highway 18
  • Cons:other than the rock and the views, not much here
  • In a nutshell:OK place to stop, but certainly not a "must see" place either
  • Last visit to Erratic Rock Wayside: Nov 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (2)

Comments (3)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2011 at 10:24 PM

    Yes, marvellous views over the landscape. Interesting, without knowing where it came from I would have thought it is "just a rock". But the power of floods is .. powerful! Thanks for sharing, Glenn.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2010 at 1:05 AM

    It sounds like an attractive place to visit....

  • christine.j's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2008 at 11:53 AM

    That's a great view from the Rock, so much wide, open land.


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