Visitors guide to Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Smith Rock History
The creation of Smith Rock State Park was a slow and steady one. Around 30 million years ago a large caldera was formed when surface level rock collapsed into an underground lava chamber. This material solidified into rock, becoming Smith Rock tuff. In more recent history, The Crooked River created the geographic features we see today by cutting through the layers of rock. The park has various activities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts and fitness levels.
Many people that come to Smith Rock for the views choose the day-use area. It has a visitors center, picnic areas, and restrooms. The area is open from sunrise to sunset year around as long as you buy a parking pass upon arrival.
If you are looking to take a longer stay in the park, it also has overnight campsites. Campsites are always first-come-first-serve, walk-in, and tent only. Camping fees are $5 a night per person. RV camping, car camping, and open fires are not allowed inside the park.
The park has over 650 Acres of viable land and 12 official trails to explore. There are a variety of trails for all fitness levels that range from a leisure river walk to actually hiking the rock itself. If you are looking for an easy, flat trail that can give you views of a lot of the park the River Trail is your best best. This 2.5-mile out-and-back trails follows along the gorge and starts to the left of the main bridge. On this trail, visitors have the opportunity to see horses crossing the gorge, climbers on Southern Tip, and the famous Monkey Face.
If you are looking for a more strenuous hike, take a look at the Misery Ridge Trail Loop. Don’t let the name scare you though; this trail is worth the pain. This 3.7-mile loop trail avoids the crowds and has great views.
Hikers get a close up look of Monkey Face and then head up to the rim for incredible views of the surrounding area. Then, you simply head down the traditional route (which is very steep!) back to the bridge.
You are also welcome to do the hike in reverse if you would rather get the hard part out of the way first! The elevation gain of this hike is around 1,500 feet, so be sure to stay hydrated. Similarly, it is recommended to not hike in full sunlight.
Smith Rock State Park is famous for it’s climbing opportunities. It is widely recognized as the birthplace of the American climbing sport. With over 2,000 routes in the park, it is safe to say that you will not run out of things to do.
The most iconic of these routes in the park is the 350-foot spire of Monkey Face. The routes range from 5.7-5.14 in difficulty and the area is recommended for advanced climbers. Although it is the most famous climbing area of the park, few people actually conquer the beast. The rock experiences strong winds in the Winter, and intense heat in the Summer. If you make it to the top of this thing, be sure to post an Instagram about it.
If you are looking for a less intimidating option, the park also offers beginning bouldering routes. Head over to the Bivy Bouldering Area you will find what you are looking for. Ivy Wall features five routes that range from V0 to V3. The area is also easily accessible and has a year-round walk-in campground if you want to be close to your climbing area.
The popularity of Smith Rock may make it seem unsuitable for runners, but guess again! Once you are out of the main parking lot area and flat terrain the crowds dissipate and runners are left with quiet, stunning views. If you are looking for a challenge, try out the Summit Loop Trail Run.
This 7.3-mile loop features a section of flat terrain and one large climb/descent. The elevation gain is just over 1,600 feet, so be sure to bring water with you. You essentially run around the entire perimeter of the park and get the chance to see all of its famous landmarks. This is a great trail for early morning runs before the afternoon heat comes if you want to get a lay of the land.
Biking, Slacklining, and Horseback Riding
Biking, slacklining and horseback riding are all permitted in the park. Head to the visitors center upon arrival to check out the rules and regulations for these activities though. Changes in weather often make these activities too dangerous for visitors and cause closures on some sections of the park.
-Dogs: The park does allow dogs; however, they strictly enforce the animal leash law. Pets are required to be on a leash that is no longer than six feet.
-Cigarette Smoking: Oregon State laws prohibit smoking in all of Oregon’s State Parks unless you are in your vehicle or campsite. However, the area is very dry and visitors are encouraged to be extremely cautious of embers.
-Marijuana Smoking: Although marijuana is legal in Oregon, its use in public locations is restricted. You may not use weed in any location where other visitors can see you.
-Drones and Photography: Drones are not permitted anywhere within the park. Permits are often required for commercial photography and filming. Be sure to call ahead if you are planning on doing this.
If you have any comments then please drop us a message on our Outdoor Revival Facebook page
If you have a good story to tell or blog let us know about it on our FB page, we’re also happy for article or review submissions, we’d love to hear from you.
We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the Outdoors