Smith Rock State Park
The majestic spires towering above the Crooked River north of Redmond on U.S. 97 are part of 623-acre Smith Rock State Park (9241 NE Crooked River Dr., Terrebone, 541/548-7501, www.oregonstateparks.org, $3 day use). Named after a soldier who fell to his death from the highest promontory (3,230 feet) in the configuration, the park is a popular retreat for hikers, rock climbers, and casual visitors.
Picnic tables, drinking water, and restrooms can be found near the parking area. The more adventurous can camp out in the park’s primitive (except for the showers) walk-in camping area ($4), located near the park entrance.
Although Smith Rock is known for its rock climbing, many visitors come here to hike. Seven miles of well-marked trails follow the Crooked River and wend up the canyon walls to emerge on the ridgetops. Because the area is delicate and extremely sensitive to erosion, it’s important not to blaze any trails because they may leave visible scars for years.
Some of the sport-climbing routes at Smith Rock are as difficult and challenging as any you’ll find in the United States. Most of the mountain’s 17-million-year-old volcanic rock is soft and crumbly, making descents extra challenging. Chocks, nuts, friends, and other clean-climbing equipment and techniques are encouraged to reduce damage to the rock.
On certain routes where these methods would prove impractical, permanent anchors have been placed. Climbers should use these fixed bolts (after testing them first for safety, of course) to minimize impact on the rock face. Stop in at the park-side store to pick up a climbing guide to the routes at Smith Rock that do not require mounting additional fixed protection.
Climbers should never disturb birds of prey and their young in their lofty aeries. Finally, pack plenty of water. The Crooked River is contaminated with chemicals from nearby farmlands and isn’t suitable for drinking.
Redpoint Climbing Supply (800/923-6207), at the corner of U.S. 97 and Smith Rock Way, is a good information and supply stop for climbers.
Climbing lessons, both private and group, are offered by First Ascent (541/548-5137 or 800/325-5462, www.goclimbing.com), Chockstone Climbing Guides (541/318-7170 or 877/254-6211, www.chockstoneclimbing.com), and Smith Rock Climbing Guides (541/788-6225, www.smithrockclimbingguides.com); First Ascent is known for its women’s programs.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel