Had to cancel the first trip up so I am pushing this meetup back
Smith Rock is Oregon’s premier rock climbing destination, and one of the best sport climbing areas in the United States. This world-renowned sport climbing mecca has more than once been at the focal point of the climbing world. Extensive development took place in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s by locals and international climbers alike, who put up scores of classic climbs on the tuff and basalt cliffs; development continues to this day with new moderates and cutting-edge routes going up each year. Ranging from classic beginner routes to hardcore testpieces on a wide variety of rock, there is truly something here for everyone. Although best known for its sport climbing traditional climbers can find plenty to be excited about here as well.
Located in the high desert in central Oregon, Smith Rock State Park’s cliffs and hillsides take a commanding presence over the surrounding terrain. The main cliffs are made of volcanic welded tuff, and surrounding bands of columnar basalt lie above the winding Crooked River.
Smith Rock is a perfect weekend getaway for residents of the Portland area as well as a worthy destination for anybody exploring the West’s climbing. The prominent walls overlooking the Crooked River are home to many of Smith Rock’s most famous routes, but for those seeking some solitude and adventure there is plenty to be found on the back side or among the basalt columns in the Upper and Lower gorge. Monkey Face, perhaps the park’s most recognizable feature, sits proudly on the back side of Smith Rock with spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains and the arid landscape below.
It takes years to become familiar with all of the areas at Smith, and there is enough climbing here to allow even the locals to find new favorites every season. There are over 1,500 routes at Smith but it's easy to get stuck in a cycle where you only climb the same 50 classics each season; a little exploring here to the less-traveled areas goes a long way.
Approaches are generally short and straightforward from the main parking lot, and a well-maintained system of trails provides easy access to all of the park’s areas. Please don’t stray from the established trails; the visual and environmental impact of people scrambling up the hillsides can be enormous.
There is water available at the parking lot and a drinking fountain at the bridge, although they both get turned off during the cold months. I've heard that the water from the sinks in the bathrooms isn't potable so bring your own to be on the safe side if the fountains are shut off.
Restrooms are available in the main parking lot, at the bridge, and the Phoenix Composting Toilet is conveniently located within sprinting distance of the popular walls on the front side of the park. Please respect those around you, keep your pets under control, and pack out everything that you bring in.
Smith Rock State Park
is located in the town of Terrebonne, Oregon. Take Smith Rock Drive East off of Hwy. 97 in Terrebonne, then take a left on 17th Street, a right on Wilcox Ave, and finally a left on Crooked River Drive to the main parking lot. It's pretty easy to find, but
here's a map just in case
Driving time to Smith Rock State Park is approximately 6-7 hours from Seattle, 2.5-3 hours from Portland, and around 30 minutes from Bend. The closest airport is 10 miles away in Redmond, OR.
Current weather conditions at Smith Rock
Due to its location in Oregon's high desert the weather at Smith is typically dry and sunny. Generally there are very few days of the year where climbing is out of the question at Smith; soaking rain is rare, although the heat can be oppressive during the summer.
The best times to climb at Smith are the Spring and Fall. Summers are hot and it's not uncommon for the thermometer to soar above 100F in the sun, and in winter there are plenty of near to sub-freezing dry days for your hardcore redpoint attempts.
Standard desert rules apply to camping too: it gets surprisingly cold at night so be sure to pack that down jacket.
Here's a Google Maps link with directions from the park
). If you hit Hwy. 26 you've gone too far. Skull Hollow is a free BLM camping area with basic port-a-potties and camp fires are allowed. There is no water available here so stock up beforehand. It's first-come first-served and can fill up on busy weekends.
Skull Hollow will no longer be a free campground as of May 15, 2009. This is ostensibly due to the less desirable characters that stay for long periods of time at the campground (no, I'm not talking about trad climbers!); there have been increasing amounts of gear theft as of late, and the popularity of the site is beginning to take a toll on the facilities. There will be a $5 per night charge, and a 14-day limit for all campers.
Barbecue The Pope
is a perfect example of a 5.10c that has some unprotected committing moves down low.
Do not hesitate to bring a stick-clip down into the park with you, and prepare to be somewhat humble about the climbing. People do occasionally take some ugly falls before the first bolt has been clipped on popular routes, which can easily be avoided by pre-clipping the 'draw.
You don't often see routes here with bolts every 5 ft. as you might at other areas, and while it may be intimidating at first you'll learn to love it as you spend more time here. If it's your first time at Smith it wouldn't be a bad idea to start off slowly and try a handful of routes a grade or 3 below what you're used to climbing, just to make sure you're comfortable.
Books For This Area
link on this page.
for food, wine, beer, and cocktails; it's hard to beat a buffalo cheeseburger and a beer here after a day in the park.
Redmond is a 10 minute drive away and has a few decent breakfast places as well as some other hotels, fast food, grocery stores, and dinner options. The increasingly cosmopolitan city of Bend has a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and brewpubs that cater to everyone from the country club crowd to the local hippies.
Redpoint Climber's Supply is a great shop to pick up all your climbing and camping needs in Terrebonne.