Erratic Rock State Natural Site
|Erratic Rock State Natural Site|
Erratic rock with Yamhill Valley in background
|Location||Yamhill County, Oregon|
|Area||4.4 acres (2 ha)|
|Operated by||Oregon 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.
Purchased from the Duerst and Ramsby families in 1956, the park was originally named the Erratic Rock Wayside. In 1996, the park was one of the state parks selected for closure due to budget problems. 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.
The pre-historic Missoula floods began in western Montana fifteen to twenty-thousand years ago. These large floods altered the landscape of the Columbia River valley and flooded the Willamette Valley. 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.
Geologically, the rock comes from Canada and is the largest glacial erratic rock in the Willamette Valley. The rock is argillite believed to be 600 million years old and originally part of the sea-floor. It is also the only rock of its type outside of Canada.
Plants and Wildlife
The Pacific Northwest climate allows for many diverse species of plants and animals to thrive.
Along with the flora and fauna indigenous to Oregon in general, the ones that are more specific to Yamhill county are categorized as wildlife species of the northwest region. This list contains animals in four different categories including amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Surprisingly enough, Wolverines have also recently been discovered in the Oregon territory as well, though their populations seem to be very small. For a full list of these animals, please visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's species page. Additionally, a number of native Oregon plants can also be seen in this region. For those interested in learning more about the native Oregonian flora species including resources for purchasing them, please see the Native Plant Society of Oregon's website.
Oregon Conservation Efforts
The ODFW in Yamhill county is taking necessary steps toward the conservation of some of the indigenous plant and animal species. Some of the plants and animals listed on the endangered species are: the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). Some of the endangered plants are, the Willamette daisy (Erigeron decumbens var. decumbens), the Kincaid's Lupine (Lupinus sulphureus ssp. Kincaidii), and the Nelson's Checker-Mallow( Sidalcea nelsoniana ), to name a few.
For people interested in getting more involved in nature conservation for Oregon, more information can be found on the ODFW website, and the Yamhill Oaks Preserve website. For a map of other regionally recognized places to view wildlife, visit the ODFW's wildlife viewing section.
Hobbies and Exercise
There is a ¼ mile or 0.2-mile (320 m) easy hike along a paved trail to the top of the hill past a vineyard and orchard. It is relatively flat with a gradual incline, until the last 100m which has a decidedly steeper incline. The rock sits at the end of the path, just over the incline.
Birdwatchers will find a lot of resources for their hobby in Yamhill county. There are a number of bird watching sites in Yamhill county, and Erratic is one of them. For a complete list of popularly viewed Oregon birds, see the Oregon Birds Checklist. For more information on additional connection opportunities and notifications on rare bird alerts, visit the Birding Oregon website.
Butterfly collectors will find many different species of butterflies in the Erratic area. Some of the species include, Swallowtails (Papilioninae), Parnassians (Parnassiinae), Whites (Pierinae), Sulphurs (Coliadinae), and more. A butterfly species, the Fender's Blue Butterfly, can also be viewed in this area. It is, however, on the endangered species list, so should not be collected. A large collection of indigenous Oregon butterflies can be seen at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve to serve as a documentation of everything Oregon has to offer.
The opportunities for photography vary from nature-focused to landscape. For more information on photography clubs, or other popular nature sites to visit, see the Oregon Foto Guide.
Geocaching is the outdoor recreational real-world treasure hunt that is happening all over the globe. Cache availability and sizes are dependent on those who place and maintain them. Erratic Rock State Park features at least one traditional size cache. Erratic Park is a participant to the Geocaching alternative sport, Tangleboxing, created and hosted by Yamhill County and City of McMinnville Parks and Recreation. Tanglebox is an outdoor summertime treasure hunt. Tangleboxes have been hidden in eleven different Yamhill Park sites. The Tanglebox is clearly labeled, but hidden.
In addition to the boulder, the hilltop features views of the Oregon Coast Range and the valley, including vineyards and farms. There is a 0.2-mile (320 m) hike along a paved trail to the top of the hill past a vineyard and orchard that provides bird watching opportunities. 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-acre (2 ha) park.
Erratic Rock is situated in the Yamhill County, Oregon Winery district. There are numerous places for wine tasting for Oregon Wine within a 10-mile radius.
- "Erratic Rock State Park". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
- Armstrong, Chester H (1965). Oregon State Parks: History, 1917-1963. Salem, OR: Oregon State Highway Department. pp. 125–126. OCLC 5694863.
- Green, Ashbel S. State may fold tent on some parks. The Oregonian, June 6, 1996.
- Saarinen, Yvette (June 18, 2005). "New Erratic Rock marker unveiled". News-Register. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
- Gault, Roy Gault. Ice-age wonder sits about an hour from Salem. Statesman Journal, July 1, 2003.
- Haight, Abby. White water, wild winds: The recreation is exceptional. The Oregonian, September 30, 2007.
- 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.
- Jones, Melissa L. Oregon’s weird roadside attractions. The Oregonian, August 3, 2003.
- Erratic Rock State Natural Site unique to the United States. Statesman Journal, September 10, 2002.
- Bishop, Ellen Morris (2004). Hiking Oregon's Geology. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books. pp. 100–101. ISBN 0-585-34087-0.
- Oshiro, Gwenda Richards. Road Trip: Sheridan – more than a federal pen. The Oregonian, June 12, 2005.
- Church, Foster. Oregon offtrack: The real northwest valley gems: monastery and museum. The Oregonian, June 20, 2004.
- "Oregon State Parks Department: Erratic Rock". Retrieved 2011-06-26.