With epic trails, towering rock faces for climbing, and awe-inspiring views highlighting this adventurous playground, it’s not hard to see why Smith Rock State Park is a favorite thing to do near Bend.
The moment you roll into the parking lot, you’ll immediately be rewarded with views of the majestic rust-colored cliffs and the serene Crooked River winding around the base below. Not too many places show off their beauty so quickly, which makes Smith Rock State Park a truly extraordinary place.
Of course, we’re all about going beyond the parking lot, so we’re going to share with you all of our favorite hikes at Smith Rock, some of the wicked rock climbing opportunities that await you, and a few more activities you can do at this enchanting and adventurous state park.
Things to Do at Smith Rock State Park
Table of Contents
- Things to Do at Smith Rock State Park
- Camping at Smith Rock State Park
- More Things to do in Central Oregon
- Proxy Falls Hike—Central Oregon's Most Epic Waterfall!
- Your Guide to Cove Palisades State Park
- 17+ Badass Bend Hikes to Conquer During Your Visit
- 10 Waterfall Hikes Near Bend That Are Worth Visiting
- An Adventurer's Guide to Things to Do in Bend, Oregon
- Things to Do at Crater Lake National Park: Hikes, Camping & When to Visit
- Exploring The Cascade Lakes in Oregon—Hiking, Camping, & Water Sports
When you think about hiking in Oregon, you probably envision lush forests, snowcapped mountains, and some beautiful coastal trails sprinkled in. Well, Smith Rock challenges all those preconceived notions with trails that run through the high desert of Oregon.
The most popular trail is Misery Ridge, but you’ll be able to get great views from almost all of the trails in Smith Rock State Park. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll with a stunning overlook or a challenging hike to brag about, this area is brimming with awesome trails!
Our top 3 hikes in Smith Rock that we absolutely love:
- Misery Ridge Trail – 2.6 steep, grueling, but well worth miles! This is the pride and joy of the park!
- Rim Rock Trail – A short and sweet 1-mile hike that snakes above the river.
- Crooked River Trail – Nearly 5 miles of stunning paths along the river’s edge.
There’s a lot more to know so be sure to read our guide on the best hikes in Smith Rock State Park!
READ MORE: 7 COOLEST Smith Rock Hikes to Tackle!
No other rock climbing site in the country holds the same prestige as Smith Rock State Park. The thousands of climbing routes here led to the creation of sport climbing in the United States. Many of the most talented climbers in the world migrate here, but there are tons of routes suitable for beginners.
The volcanic tuff, basalt cliffs, and imposing monoliths provide the ideal terrain for many exciting climbs. Smith Rock is more renowned for its sport climbing, but traditional rock climbers have plenty of world-class routes to conquer.
Check out a few of the best climbing routes in Smith Rock for ideas on where to begin!
Easily recognizable from its peculiar shape, this intimidating 350-foot spire is the most iconic climbing area in Smith Rock. Other than its monkey-like resemblance, the pillar has gained worldwide recognition as being the ultimate test for avid rock climbers.
Altogether, there are roughly two dozen routes of varying degrees of difficulty. For many climbers, one of the ultimate thrills in Smith Rock is climbing the rising pinnacle and crawling inside the monkey’s mouth.
Jagged spires dot the landscape here, and the rocky monuments soar hundreds of feet into the air. The 600-foot Monument is the most notable landmark, with a bevy of adventurous routes to choose from.
Red Wall Area
This immense 300-foot rock wall sits just around the corner from the Misery Ridge Trail, and its piercing dark red color is a stark contrast from the typical volcanic tuff seen in Smith Rock.
Its short approach to many thrilling multi-pitch routes makes this another popular area in Smith Rock. The three-pitch Super Slab route is perfectly positioned for a quick descent or to link up with the Misery Ridge Trail.
The Gorge Area
Descend deep into the gorge to climb in one of the most serene areas of Smith Rock. The Crooked River flows through the gorge and towering basalt columns surround you on both sides. Both the east and west columns have superb cracks, and enormous boulders act as stepping stones to cross the river.
Racing through the biking trails of Smith Rock State Park will certainly keep your adrenaline pumping. Rocky terrain, steep climbs, and sharp drop-offs will keep you on the edge of your seat (literally) and reward you with stellar views of the canyon walls.
Bike the Summit Loop for an intense 7+ mile ride along the ridges, flowing river and the most iconic rock faces of Smith Rock.
Kayak the Crooked River
Paddling the Crooked River can be a tricky endeavor as there is often not enough water to accommodate kayakers. The river is dam-controlled, and its rare releases make it a challenge to prepare for kayaking excursions.
But when the river is on, it is one of the most electrifying adventures in Smith Rock State Park. On those occasions, you’ll be fighting tooth and nail with other paddlers to jump in.
A series of class III-IV rapids highlight the scenic voyage, and you’ll have the perfect seat to admire jagged cliffs, rocky spires, and screes in all directions.
Camping at Smith Rock State Park
After hiking all the trails in Smith Rock, a good night’s sleep will be calling your name. Whether you just want to pitch a tent or rest in your RV, you have numerous options to rest your aching legs (or arms!).
It’s important to note that Smith Rock State Park only supports walk-in camping and overnight vehicles are not allowed. Not to worry though – there is additional camping space within an easy drive of the park entrance.
Smith Rock Bivouac Area
Nicknamed “The Bivy,” the Bivouac Area Campground lets you spend the night inside the park. Arrive early as space is limited and the campsite does not take reservations.
For $8 per night (per person), you’ll receive a parking permit and access to the showers the following day. You can also take a shower for a $2 fee if you’re not camping but just need to refresh after an exhausting day on the Smith Rock hikes.
The Bivy doesn’t allow charcoal or wood fires, but you can use a propane or gas stove in the parking lot. And be prepared to pitch your tent since RVs are not allowed in the campground.
Skull Hollow Campground
If you’re cruising around Oregon in an RV, the Skull Hollow Campground will better suit your needs. The campground is only eight miles from the park entrance and accommodates large vehicles. Another bonus is being able to start a campfire to roast marshmallows, hot dogs or whatever you like.
Keep in mind the facilities at Skull Hollow will be more rugged compared to The Bivy. There is no water at the campground, and pit toilets are used for the restroom.
Individual sites cost $10 per night and double sites cost $20 per night. Groups will save big since six people and one vehicle are allowed per site. Just make sure to arrive in plenty of time with only 28 total campsites available.
Glamping & Cabins Around Smith Rock State Park
Mountain View Cabin Oasis: This rustic log cabin sits on five acres and is perched on top of a butte, giving it sweeping views over the Cascade Mountain Range.
Cozy Cottage in The Hub: Located in Redmond, this charming 1942 cottage has everything you need for a comfortable stay near Smith Rock State Park.
Luxurious Log Home: This newly-renovated luxury log home overlooks a golf course, and has access to amenities including a pool in summer, and year-round tennis and golf.
I’ve been perpetually traveling and living around the world for years but it’s hard to beat Oregon and the PNW. After years of road-tripping the area, I guess you can say I know it pretty well! When I’m not writing guides for you, you can catch me somewhere petting a dog, attempting to surf, hiking a volcano, or stuffing my face with bread and cheese.