In 1956, Frog Woman Rock was registered in California as a historical landmark. But if you’re not from California, you might not be familiar with this monolith.
Or, if you are from the west coast, you might know it by its former name, Squaw Rock.
This landmark is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as it boasts serious rapids for kayaking and bouldering opportunities for rock climbers. It’s also a symbolic location rooted deep in Native American folklore.
Let’s learn more about this ancient giant rock.
What Exactly Is Frog Woman Rock?
It’s a giant rock formation that resembles a woman from ancient Pomo folklore. The rushing waters of the Russian River formed it, and the channel has moved westward as a result of earthflow.
The remaining boulders have formed Class III to Class V rapids at the base of Frog Woman Rock. The Russian River drops 30 feet per mile near the monolith.
Where Can You Find Frog Woman Rock?
Approximately 6 miles south of Hopland, Calif., on Highway 101 is Frog Woman Rock. It’s a historical landmark in Mendocino County in the Russian River canyon. The Russian River begins in the Laughlin Range and flows south 1,485 miles before emptying into the Pacific Ocean.
The vertical cliffs of Frog Woman Rock form the west bank of that part of the Russian River near Hopland. Early travelers through the canyon explained the profile of the Frog Woman. They saw the shape of a head and face in the upper portion of the rock as they passed by. Today you can see her profile most clearly traveling southbound down Highway 101.
The Story Behind the Monolith
Like many traditional Native American stories, the wily coyote is a trickster character. According to Pomo tradition, Frog Woman was the wife of the coyote. She was clever and powerful, part frog and part human. The people feared her. Since they believed she might eat them, the Pomo people avoided this giant rock where Frog Woman lived.
Although called Squaw Rock in the past, the Pomo people didn’t use that name. In fact, the term “squaw” is considered offensive by contemporary Native Americans, so they implemented a name change in 2011.
The State Office of Historic Preservation updated the name of this landmark to honor and respect the heritage of the Pomo and other Native American cultures. Today, visitors can explore it and enjoy the rapids of the Russian River.
What Can You Do at Frog Woman Rock?
The two most popular outdoor activities at Frog Woman Rock are bouldering and kayaking. However, both of these recreational activities can be quite dangerous. The rapids are the most dangerous along the Russian River. In fact, canoeing is strongly discouraged, and rafting happens during the winter and spring.
These rapids are only for experienced kayakers. Bouldering is also popular. The V0 to V4 boulders are usually partially submerged in the river except for the summer months. So if you want to avoid wading through waist-deep waters, visit it during those months of little rainfall.
Should You Take a Trip to Frog Woman Rock?
If you’re traveling down Highway 101 along the Pacific coast, you might make a stop at Frog Woman Rock. However, if you’re not an experienced kayaker or rock-climber, don’t plan on doing much there. You might walk around, but much of the rock is quite dangerous.
You’ll find YouTubers who have climbed the rock, but it’s not an area to explore for most travelers.
The folklore and mystique surrounding the rock are what make it fascinating. If you’re into Native American traditions and cultures, taking a trip might be worth it.
Is It in Your Plans?
Most of the time, when discussing places to visit, it really comes down to your travel route. Just like it’s probably not worth venturing off your route to visit Donkey Lady Bridge unless you’re traveling around San Antonio, it’s probably not worth venturing off your route to visit Frog Woman Rock unless you’re traveling along Highway 101.
It’s not a place where you’ll spend hours of your day exploring like you would a National Park or state park. But if Native American legends are your thing, take a trip to see this great monolith.
Do you plan to visit Frog Woman Rock?
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