Smith Rock State Park: An In-Depth Family Adventure Guide

Smith Rock State Park: An In-Depth Family Adventure Guide

Oregon has two sides to it. On one hand, there is the lush vegetation and dramatic coastline. Then there is the High Desert in the heart of Oregon which brings a plot twist to any family trip to the Beaver state. Choosing which side of the aisle you want to trek can be a daunting decision for many.

But if you are an adventurous lot seeking a heart-throbbing experience then Central Oregon is your ideal itinerary. In this part of Oregon lies Smith Rock State Park, a marvel bound to impress every member of your family.

As you venture into Smith Rock, you’re immediately greeted by towering cliffs. These geological giants have been sculpted by wind and time, creating a backdrop that wouldn’t look out of place in the Wild West. As the day draws to a close, the desert landscape transforms during the magical sunset. The fading light casts a warm glow over the rocks, creating a serene and peaceful ambiance.

Visitors often gather at key vantage points to witness the sun dipping below the horizon, painting the sky with a kaleidoscope of colors and leaving an indelible memory of the desert’s tranquil beauty. In this article, we are going to look at what makes Smith Rock State Park the ideal family destination;

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What you need to know before visiting Smith Rock State Park

Just beyond the city of Redmond, Smith Rock State Park stands as a captivating geological wonderland. The park’s iconic rock formations, deep canyons, and breathtaking vistas of the Cascade Mountains draw outdoor enthusiasts seeking a communion with nature.

This haven offers a myriad of hiking trails meandering through the rocky landscape, accommodating both novice and experienced hikers. The base of Smith Rock invites close encounters with the park’s distinct geological features, creating an immersive experience. Here is what you need to know before visiting this landscape marvel;

Smith Rock State Park on Google Map:

1. How much does it cost to go to Smith Rock?

Before embarking on your adventure at Smith Rock State Park, it’s essential to be aware of the park’s permit requirements. For each vehicle entering the park, a $5 day-use permit is mandatory, and these permits can be obtained from the self-service pay stations.

If you’re planning an extended stay or frequent visits, consider the annual permit, priced at $30, or a two-year permit, available for $50. Both annual permits offer cost-effective options for those who wish to immerse themselves in the beauty of Smith Rock regularly. Visitors can acquire these annual permits either at the Welcome Center within the park or through the park’s official website.

2. When is the best time to go to Smith Rock?

The breathtaking Smith Rock State Park is accessible year-round, but the best times to visit are late spring and fall. During these seasons, the park offers a more tranquil experience with fewer crowds and milder temperatures. If you’re looking to escape the bustling peak season, steer clear of the summer months when Smith Rock sees an influx of visitors, and the trails can become crowded.


However, if summer is your only option, planning your visit for early mornings and weekdays can help you navigate the trails with more ease. For those seeking a harmonious blend of solitude and pleasant weather, October is the ideal month to explore Smith Rock State Park, offering a serene atmosphere and a chance to appreciate the park’s natural wonders without the bustling crowds.

What to do in Smith Rock State Park

The park’s geological formations are a testament to the forces of nature that have shaped the landscape over millions of years. Towering spires and pinnacles rise dramatically from the desert floor, creating a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.

The iconic Monkey Face, a natural rock formation resembling a primate’s face, is a testament to the park’s geological marvels. To help plan your family outing in this Oregon marvel, we have compiled a list of what to do with kids in Smith Rock State Park;

1. Rock climbing in Smith Rock State Park

Rock climbing enthusiasts are drawn to the exhilarating opportunities that abound in Smith Rock State Park, where the sport has deep roots as the birthplace of U.S. sport climbing. With numerous designated climbing areas, the park offers nearly 2,000 mapped routes, providing a diverse playground for adrenaline-seekers.

A standout among the challenging ascents is Monkey Face, an iconic climb that juts out of the arid landscape and serves as one of the park’s best-known landmarks. For those looking to try their hand at bouldering, there are 300 lines to explore.

Families with young climbing enthusiasts can find suitable areas, like Rope de Dope Rock, situated across the river from Morning Glory Wall. Here, kids can embark on their climbing journey in a shaded environment with a quick and easy approach, picnic tables, and the necessary safety measures, including properly fitted climbing helmets, harnesses, and shoes.

2. Fishing in Smith Rock State Park

Fishing enthusiasts find a haven in Smith Rock State Park, drawn by the enticing opportunities along the picturesque Crooked River that runs through the park. The river hosts a diverse array of fish species, creating a haven for both recreational and fly fishing enthusiasts.

Rainbow trout, brook trout, and mountain whitefish populate the waters, providing an exciting challenge for anglers seeking a memorable catch. To participate in this angler’s paradise, visitors must acquire a valid Oregon fishing license.

3. Hiking in Smith Rock State Park

Hiking in Smith Rock State Park is an immersive journey through diverse landscapes and breathtaking vistas. The well-marked trails guide hikers through the park’s stunning natural beauty, revealing the vibrant desert hues and iconic rock formations. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunities to spot diverse wildlife and plant species along the way. Here are some popular hiking trails in Smith Rock State Park;

1. Misery Ridge & River Trail

Embarking on the 3.5-mile Misery Ridge & River Trail is a hiker’s delight, offering an unparalleled adventure through the park’s captivating terrain. Although challenging, the trail is unequivocally worth every step, treating intrepid explorers to breathtaking vistas that showcase the majesty of Crooked River and the iconic Monkey Face—a colossal pillar-like rock resembling the visage of a primate.

2. Canyon Trail

The Canyon Trail is a delightful hiking adventure that seamlessly combines accessibility with captivating scenery. The trail, starting at the welcome center in the parking lot, spans a mild 1.5 miles, making it an ideal option for hikers seeking a quick yet fulfilling experience.

This brief yet rewarding hike not only offers a glimpse into the stunning landscapes of Smith Rock but also provides hikers with the opportunity to appreciate the park’s diverse features and natural charm.

Canyon Trail Trailhead on Google Map:

3. Rim Rock Trail

Embark on a scenic half-mile walk around the ridge, offering awe-inspiring views from various perspectives. The level, paved trail meanders past a children’s climbing wall and picnic spots, rendering it an excellent option for families with young children.

4. Wolf Tree Trail

Wolf Tree Trail, a delightful 2.7-mile out-and-back trek, offers a perfect blend of ease and scenic beauty. The trail, characterized by a gentle elevation gain, provides a welcoming experience for hikers of various skill levels.

What sets Wolf Tree Trail apart is its reputation as a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. The diverse avian population along the path, ranging from songbirds to raptors, attracts many nature lovers keen on observing and identifying the local bird species.

Where to eat in Smith Rock State Park

While outdoor enthusiasts flock to this natural wonder for its recreational activities, the park also offers a surprising array of dining options that cater to various tastes. Here are some places where you can grab a quick snack in Smith Rock State Park;

1. Pump House Bar & Grill

Pump House Bar & Grill beckons visitors with its warm and inviting atmosphere, offering a delightful dining experience for the whole family. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this family-friendly restaurant serves up a diverse menu featuring classic breakfast items and hearty fares such as burgers and fries.

Whether you choose to dine in and savor the welcoming ambiance or opt for the convenience of takeout, Pump House ensures a satisfying meal. After a day of exploring the breathtaking desert landscapes at Smith Rock, the restaurant’s wide selection of beers provides the perfect way to unwind and relax.

Pump House Bar & Grill on Google Map:

2. Terra Kitchen

Dining at Terra Kitchen is a culinary journey that transcends the ordinary, offering a true field-to-table experience in the heart of Central Oregon. Founded with a commitment to nourishing the soul, community, and the planet, Terra Kitchen sets itself apart as a beacon of wellness, local sourcing, and sustainability.

The menu reflects a thoughtful fusion of blue zone principles and Mediterranean-style Pacific Northwest crops, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that celebrates the region’s diverse bounty.

Terra Kitchen on Google Map:

3. Regios Café

Nestled in the heart of the community, Regios Cafe is a charming mom-and-pop-style restaurant that invites diners to savor the essence of comfort food and traditional American cuisine crafted with a touch of homemade goodness. This hidden gem prides itself on using fresh, high-quality ingredients to create dishes that evoke a sense of warmth and familiarity.

Regios Cafe on Google Map:

Where to stay in Smith Rock State Park

Within the park itself, camping enthusiasts can pitch a tent at one of the walk-in-only Smith Rock State Park camping areas situated near the main entrance. This provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

For those seeking a touch of luxury or convenience, there are excellent hotel options near the park. These accommodations provide a perfect blend of comfort and accessibility, allowing visitors to tailor their stay to their preferences and make the most of their Smith Rock experience. Here are the accommodation options in Smith Rock;

1. Hotels

1. SCP Redmond

In the heart of nearby Redmond, this property offers inviting, well-lit rooms with stone fireplaces and delightful amenities such as a yoga room and a collection of vintage records. As a sustainable touch, a tree is planted to offset the carbon footprint of each guest, and complimentary beer and coffee await guests during check-in.

SCP Redmond Hotel on Google Map:

2. Brasada Ranch

Situated just 30 minutes from Smith Rock, this upscale retreat beckons you to unwind and extend your stay. Brasada Ranch offers a range of accommodations, from private rooms to entire houses featuring expansive living areas, generous suites, and personal hot tubs—ideal for both large groups and families.

The property boasts a wealth of amenities, including a pristine golf course, numerous pools and hot tubs, an activity center, and diverse dining options, providing ample opportunities for exploration and relaxation.

Brasada Ranch on Google Map:

3. FivePine Lodge & Spa

Situated in the enchanting town of Sisters, this stunning lodge is embraced by lush forests and features secluded cabins, inviting soaking tubs, and cozy fireplaces—ideal for relaxation after a day of exploration.

FivePine Lodge and Spa on Google Map:

2. Camping

Camping in Smith Rock State Park is a unique and immersive experience, although with limited options. The sole walk-in campground, affectionately known as The Bivouac or The Bivy, is situated just before the park’s entrance sign. Tents are the sole accommodation allowed, with strict rules against RVs or sleeping in vehicles.

Campsites are loosely defined, allowing campers to set up their tents in available grassy spaces. While the campground lacks abundant trees for privacy, the awe-inspiring views of Smith Rock and the meandering Crooked River compensate for it.

Securing a camping spot at Smith Rock is on a first-come, first-serve, as reservations are not accepted. If fortunate enough to find a spot, campers can purchase a camping permit from the automated machine in the main visitor area for $8 per person per night. At the fee, campers have access to restrooms, potable water, and showers.

Please note: campfires are prohibited to protect the delicate high desert ecosystem and minimize the risk of wildfires.

Smith Rock State Park beckons with its geological marvels, diverse wildlife, and premier rock-climbing offerings. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a casual admirer of nature’s wonders, Smith Rock promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of Oregon’s geological and ecological tapestry.

Elevate your hiking adventures with these 15 cute outfit options for a glamorous and stylish trail experience!

Happy Hiking!

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