Smith Rock offers thousands of world class rock climbing routes. Located in Oregon’s high desert, Smith Rock is home to mesmerizing and massive rock cliffs of tuff and basalt. Officially, Smith Rock State Park consists of 641 acres right in the middle of Oregon.
Known as one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon, climbing at Smith Rock will appeal to all levels of climbers. There are over 1,800 climbing routes to choose from ranging from low 5’s to the first US climb rated 5.14. It’s truly a sport climbing mecca as there are bolts and chains on nearly every climbable surface, but there are also aid, trad, and bouldering routes available. From single pitch climbs to multi-pitch routes, every climber will be entertained at Smith Rock.
Like any desert, Smith Rock has a wide range of temperatures and it’s important to choose the right time to go. Spring and Fall seem to have the most moderate and enjoyable temps, while summer can easily get into triple digits F and winter can drop well below freezing.
Don’t worry to much about precip, as Smith Rock is known to have around 300 days of sun each year. There is water nearby at all times. The Crooked River slowly meanders around Smith Rock State Park, making Oregon’s desert a lively home for falcons, lizards, snakes, river otters, and even cougars. Which makes for some fun wildlife spotting opportunities.
In nearby Terrebonne (about 7 minutes by car), there is a great climbing shop called Redpoint (it also has beer, coffee, and free wi-fi), restaurants, and grocery stores. Bend is about a half hour down the road and has anything you might need – from REI to microbrews.
It’s easy to camp at the Bivouac Camp. It costs $5 per person per day and has private showers. Surprisingly, you are not allowed to sleep in your vehicle so bring a tent or a bivy. A short hike (0.76 miles) brings you to the bridge that crosses the Crooked River. Once you cross the bridge it’s climbing time – or hiking time if you aren’t a climber.
There is a large loop around the entire Smith Rock State Park. Well maintained trails will take you to the base of nearly any climb. A calf-burning jaunt up and over Misery Ridge is a quick way to get back at the end of the day. Be prepared to get puckered downclimbing Asterisk Pass. Stretch the legs going around the southern tip. Leave plenty of time to get places and still have energy to climb.
Crack open your yellow Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park Guide by Alan Watts (aka the Smith Bible) and choose your route. Everyone seems to have this book that details everything you need to know and more about Smith Rock. It’s probably a good idea to write your name in your copy. There are over 1800 routes listed and they are all covered in extreme detail.
As for the climbing, it’s world class. I was only in Smith Rock for a few days visiting my brother, but was amazed at how many climbing options existed. We hit up some climbing classics – Spiderman, 5 Gallon Buckets, Chock Wave, Sunset Slab. All are highly recommended and we barely even scratched the surface.
A few simple suggestions to make sure you have a good time at Smith Rock:
1 – Climb in the shade. It gets hot in middle of the day.
2 – Choose your climbing routes, so you know where you are going. It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed.
3 – Bring lots of water.
Smith Rock is an incredible place and may be one of the premier sport climbing destinations in the world. It gets crowded on the weekends, so plan your trip accordingly. I’m looking forward to going back when the temps are a bit cooler and my climbing skills are a bit better too.
- Smith Rock State Park
- Rock Climbing Smith Rock State Park: A Comprehensive Guide To More Than 1,800 Routes (Regional Rock Climbing Series)
- Smith Rock At Mountain Project
What would really be amazing is if anyone climbed all 1,800+ routes at Smith Rock…
Here are some more photos from Smith Rock: