Located about 35 minutes (26 miles) North of Bend, Oregon is a place called Smith Rock State Park. We visited there recently after a trip to Crater Lake National Park. What we found was nothing short of amazing. In this post we discuss some of our top tips for visiting Smith Rock State Park.
When is the best time to visit Smith Rock?
The best time to visit Smith Rock is anytime! It’s open year-round. The campsite is also open year-round. We visited in mid-September and really enjoyed it. It was busy but there was still enough parking for us to easily find a space. The weather was also really nice – we were both in shorts and a t-shirt (temperatures were in the mid-60’s). The busiest times are mid-March to June as well as September and October.
Smith Rock State Park Address
Located off US 97, 9 miles NE of Redmond
9241 NE Crooked River Drive, Terrebonne, Oregon
Latitude: 44.365891 N
Longitude: -121.137377 W
Phone number: 541-548-7501
How much does it cost to visit?
A day use parking pass is $5
12 month day-use parking permits are $30
24 month day-use parking permits are $50
Hiker-biker passes are $8 per person
You can buy the long term parking permits online HERE or in – person at one of the kiosks.
Best Things To Do at Smith Rock State Park
Trail Running and Hiking at Smith Rock
There are 11 marked and named trails to choose from at Smith Rock State Park. Four of the trails are rated easy, four are more difficult and three are the most difficult.
We laced up our shoes almost as soon as we got to the park. From the main parking area we followed the Canyon Trail and then went west along the River Trail. The trail itself is soft and sandy and rocky in some parts. The views are stunning. We felt the miles fly by. Though the path was busy with hikers and climbers, it was wide enough in most sections to pass people with ease. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes. Though we didn’t see any, we talked to a couple of hikers who saw four!
In addition to the Canyon and River Trail we also hiked up the Misery Ridge Trail. This trail is steep! You’ll hike up several switchbacks and wooden steps until you get to the top. Be sure to wear good hiking boots and bring plenty of water with you. We also recommend that you bring a camera since the views from the top are amazing.
There were so many rock climbers at this park! I don’t know that we’ve traveled to another place where we’ve seen that many. Yosemite, maybe? There are climbing routes in this park for all different abilities and skill levels from beginner to expert.
Mountain bikes are welcome in this park but only on certain trails (the River Trail and the Wolf Tree Trail as well as the Summit Trail, Homestead Trail and Canyon Trail.) Be sure to check the signs at trail heads to make sure you are allowed on it! Helmets are strongly recommended as well.
There are numerous places to snap a gorgeous photo in this park. In fact, the park brochure even has some of those places marked on their map (look for the camera icon). We hiked the Misery Ridge Trail (see above) at sunset and thought it was an incredible place to take pictures. We also had a lot of fun shooting photos on the trails down by the river. Another popular photography spot is Monkey Face which often has people climbing it.
You can’t sleep in your vehicle due to county laws (sorry fellow van-lifers) but there is a camping area within the park. They call it a bivouac area. It’s a walk-in type of camp where you park your vehicle and then hike in about 200 yards to the site. There are showers and restrooms nearby as well as a cooking area. Check in is at 4pm and checkout is at 1pm. Quiet hours are between 10pm and 7am. There are no RV sites.
You can ride a horse in Smith Rock State Park? Yep! Horses are allowed on certain trails in this park as well mountain bikes and hikers.
Top Tips for Visiting Smith Rock State Park
One of our top tips for visiting Smith Rock State Park is to bring plenty of water with you on hikes. The signs in the park recommend at least 16 ounces per person per hour. Depending on the day, you might need more. You can fill up your water bottles behind the green visitor center yurt at a free water station.
The park is host to some Oregon Archaeology Celebration activities in October. Be sure to check the bulletin board for guest speakers and dates and times.
Asterisk Pass is considered a “rock scramble.” It is highly recommended that you use ropes here. Stay safe and know your own personal abilities so that you do not put yourself, or others, in danger.
There isn’t any food or drink (other than water) available in the park so come prepared.
There are both port-a-pots and flush toilets at this park.
Maps can be picked up at the kiosk near where you pay for parking as well as the visitor center yurt.
If you want to hike even longer and further than what’s in this park, check out some of the BLM/USFS trails in the northeast corner of the park.
Pets are welcome in the park but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet long. Please make sure to scoop your poop!
Smith Rock State Park Recap
This is one of those places that has a little bit of something for everyone. You can satisfy both the mountain biker in your group as well as the trail runner and photographer. In fact we think the trail running and hiking at Smith Rock are some of the best in this area.
Though you can’t sleep in your van in this park, Bend, Oregon (which reminded us a lot of Asheville, North Carolina) is just a short drive away.
Have you been here? If so, what’d you think about our top tips for visiting Smith Rock State Park? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
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Also in the area: Crater Lake National Park