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Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Smith Rock State Park

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  • Stunning rock formations formed around a river
  • Popular for climbing and hiking
  • Named one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon

When To Visit: March-October

Climate: Warm and sunny in the summer and fall. Cold with rain and snow in the winter, milder weather in spring.

Location: Central Oregon a half hour north of Bend

One of the premier climbing destinations in the U.S., Smith Rock State Park is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. If you’re not a climber, you can choose from a variety of hikes or just take a short stroll to admire this unique and huge rock formation.

Photo: Southern Tip from the River Trail (Image by Oregon State Parks)

What To See & Do in Smith Rock

Smith Rock Hikes

I have listed in the hikes in order of scenic beauty – the first loop showcases most of the park’s most stunning sights.

  1. Misery Ridge Trail, Mesa Verde Trail, & River Trail Loop

    • 3.7 mile loop, moderately strenuous to strenuous, 2-3 hours, 722 foot elevation gain
    • From the parking lot, take the Canyon Trail across the river to the steep Misery Ridge Trail. Over the hill, make a left on the Mesa Ridge Trail, then a left on the River Trail, and you’ll loop back to the Canyon Trail which you can take back to your car (follow signs for the parking lot toward the end).
    • Get excellent close-up views of the park’s formations from above & below and take a pleasant stroll along the river
    • You’ll walk right past climbers you can watch
  2. Summit Trail & Wolf Creek Trail Loop
    • 7.3 mile loop, moderately strenuous to strenuous, 3-5 hours, 1,106 foot elevation gain
    • From the parking lot, take the Canyon Trail across the river and make a left on the River Trail. You’ll loop around the park’s main rock formations for 2.2 miles, then continue straight onto the Summit Trail for 2.2 additional miles. It then turns into the Burma Road Trail (1 mile) and finally the Wolf Creek Trail (1 mile). Return to your car via the Canyon Trail (follow signs for the parking lot toward the end).
    • You’ll loop around the entire park and see all of its amazing rock formations, while taking in serene river views
  3. River Trail
    • 2.5 miles round trip, out & back, easy, 1-2 hours, 315 foot elevation gain
    • From the parking lot, take the Canyon Trail across the river and make a left on the River Trail.When it ends at the Summit Trail, turn around and retrace your steps.
    • An easier alternative that still gives you great views of the park’s rock formations

Where To Stay & Eat in Smith Rock

There is a picnic area in the park and there are tons of grocery, restaurant, and lodging options in the city of Redmond only 15 minutes away.

The Bivouac (Bivy) Campground close to the center of the park has 35 sites for only $5/night and is first-come, first-serve only. There are other campgrounds in the following area which are reservable – to book, click here and search for Smith Rock State Park.

Nearby Side Trips from Smith Rock

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Painted Hills

Bend: Oregon’s most popular resort city (with endless winter sports, golfing, hiking, and more), Bend is situated in high desert a half-hour to the south on the beautiful Deschutes River below the Cascade Mountains. Read more.

Cascade Lakes: The Cascade Lakes Highway begins in Bend and takes you by 14 beautiful lakes which feature scenic mountain views and plenty of opportunities for boating and hiking. Read more.

Crater Lake National Park: The deepest lake in the U.S., Crater Lake (2 hours south) was formed when a volcano exploded and left a giant crater. There are plenty of hikes with great perspectives of the lake and you can even take a boat to its iconic Wizard Island. Read more.

Painted Hills: One of Oregon’s most unique natural wonders, the Painted Hills (2 hours northeast in John Day Fossil Bends National Monument) are a collection of brightly colored hills you’ll have to see to believe. Read more.

 

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