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Rockin’ Adventures: The Best Things to Do at Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

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Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is an outdoor paradise, offering world-class hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping. Explore breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and exhilarating adventures in this must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Smith Rock State Park, located in the heart of Central Oregon, is a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventure and natural beauty. Known for its dramatic rock formations, winding river, and expansive vistas, the park offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all skill levels.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a mountain biking enthusiast, a rock climbing pro, or someone who simply loves camping under the stars, Smith Rock has something to offer. The park’s unique geology and diverse terrain provide a stunning backdrop for all kinds of outdoor fun, making it a must-visit spot for nature lovers and adrenaline seekers alike.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in Smith Rock State Park, including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, camping, and other exciting activities that will ensure your visit is unforgettable. Get ready to discover the magic of Smith Rock!

Read our complete Oregon travel and adventure guide here.

1. Hiking

Hiking in Smith Rock State Park is an experience like no other, offering trails that range from easy walks to challenging scrambles. The park’s most famous hike, Misery Ridge, is a must-do for any visitor. Despite its daunting name, Misery Ridge rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the park’s iconic rock formations and the Crooked River winding below.

The trail begins at the footbridge near the parking lot, where you’ll cross the Crooked River and start a steep ascent. As you climb, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the rock spires and cliffs that make Smith Rock famous. The trail’s highest point provides a panoramic view of the Cascade Range, including the snow-capped peaks of Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters.

Once at the top, the trail descends along the backside of the ridge, offering a close-up view of Monkey Face, a distinctive 350-foot rock pillar that’s a favorite among climbers. The descent brings you back to the river trail, where you can follow the gentle path alongside the Crooked River, taking in the park’s diverse wildlife and serene environment.

For those seeking a less strenuous hike, the Rim Rock Trail offers a moderate loop with excellent viewpoints, while the Crooked River Trail provides a scenic, flat route along the Crooked River, perfect for a leisurely stroll. Regardless of your chosen path, hiking in Smith Rock State Park is an unforgettable experience, showcasing the park’s unique geology and natural beauty.

2. Mountain Biking

Smith Rock State Park is not just a climber’s paradise; it’s also a fantastic destination for mountain biking. The park offers a variety of trails suitable for different skill levels, allowing riders to explore the rugged terrain and enjoy stunning views along the way.

One of the most popular routes is the Burma Road Trail, a challenging climb that rewards bikers with panoramic vistas of the park and surrounding landscapes. Starting from the park’s main area, the trail quickly ascends, providing a heart-pumping workout. As you gain elevation, the expansive views of the Crooked River and the towering rock formations become increasingly impressive.

The Summit Trail is another excellent option for mountain bikers looking for a challenging ride. This trail takes you to the highest point in the park, offering spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and the high desert landscape. The descent is thrilling, with technical sections that will test your skills and keep your adrenaline pumping.

For those seeking a more relaxed ride, the Homestead Trail and the River Trail offer gentler terrain and beautiful scenery. These trails wind along the Crooked River, providing opportunities to spot wildlife and enjoy the park’s peaceful environment. They are perfect for beginner to intermediate riders who want to experience the beauty of Smith Rock without the intense climbs and descents.

No matter which trail you choose, mountain biking in Smith Rock State Park is a rewarding experience. The park’s diverse terrain, stunning views, and well-maintained trails make it a top destination for mountain bikers of all levels.

3. Camping

Camping at Smith Rock State Park allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty and tranquility of this unique destination. The park offers several camping options, from walk-in tent sites to more developed areas with additional amenities.

The Bivouac Area, known as the “Bivy,” is the primary camping area in the park. It is designed for climbers and hikers who want to stay overnight and is conveniently located near the main climbing areas and trailheads. The Bivy offers walk-in tent sites nestled among the juniper and pine trees, providing a rustic and natural camping experience. Amenities include restrooms, showers, and a communal cooking area, making it a comfortable base for your adventures.

For those who prefer a bit more comfort, there are several nearby campgrounds outside the park that offer a range of facilities, including RV hookups, picnic tables, and fire pits. Skull Hollow Campground, located just a short drive from the park, is a popular choice with spacious sites and easy access to the park’s trails and climbing areas.

Camping at Smith Rock State Park provides the perfect opportunity to experience the park’s stunning sunrises and sunsets. As the sun rises, the rock formations glow with a warm, golden hue, creating a magical atmosphere that is best appreciated from the quiet solitude of your campsite. In the evening, the sky fills with stars, offering a spectacular display of the Milky Way and providing a peaceful end to a day of adventure.

Whether you choose to camp within the park or at one of the nearby campgrounds, spending the night at Smith Rock State Park is an unforgettable experience that allows you to fully appreciate the natural beauty and serenity of this incredible destination.

4. Rock Climbing

Smith Rock State Park is renowned as one of the premier rock climbing destinations in the world. With over 1,800 climbing routes, it offers something for climbers of all levels, from beginners to seasoned pros.

The park is famous for its sport climbing routes, with hundreds of bolted routes available. The welded tuff and basalt cliffs provide excellent holds and challenging climbs. Areas like the Dihedrals and Morning Glory Wall are popular spots where climbers can test their skills on routes that range in difficulty from easy to extremely challenging.

For those new to climbing, the park offers several beginner-friendly routes. Easy-to-access areas like the Red Wall and Rope-de-Dope Block provide a great introduction to the sport with shorter, less intimidating climbs. Many local guiding companies offer climbing courses and guided climbs, making it easy for novices to get started safely.

Advanced climbers flock to Smith Rock for its more challenging routes, including the iconic Monkey Face. This 350-foot tower features several difficult routes, including the famous West Face Route, which is known for its overhanging bolt ladder and exposed finish. Climbing Monkey Face is a bucket-list experience for many climbers, offering stunning views and a sense of accomplishment.

In addition to sport climbing, Smith Rock also has numerous traditional climbing and bouldering opportunities. The variety of climbing styles and the sheer number of routes make it a climbing mecca, attracting enthusiasts from around the globe.

Additional Fun Activities

Beyond hiking, biking, camping, and climbing, Smith Rock State Park offers a variety of other activities that enhance your visit:

  • Wildlife Watching: The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including golden eagles, mule deer, river otters, and prairie falcons. Birdwatchers and nature lovers will find ample opportunities to spot and photograph these creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Photography: The park’s dramatic landscapes provide a stunning backdrop for photographers. Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful times to capture the park’s unique rock formations and vibrant colors.
  • Horseback Riding: Several trails in and around the park are open to horseback riders, offering a unique way to explore the area. Local outfitters provide guided horseback tours, allowing you to experience the park from a different perspective.
  • Picnicking: With several scenic picnic areas, Smith Rock State Park is an excellent place to enjoy a meal outdoors. Pack a lunch and relax while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.


Smith Rock State Park is a treasure trove of outdoor activities, offering something for everyone. Whether you’re hiking to panoramic viewpoints, tackling challenging mountain bike trails, scaling world-class climbing routes, or camping under the stars, the park’s stunning landscapes and diverse terrain promise an adventure you’ll never forget. Embrace the natural beauty of Central Oregon and discover why Smith Rock State Park is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.