Summary: Everything you need to know to visit Smith Rock State Park in Oregon, where to stay, what hikes to do, parking, photo tips and more. *I use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Thanks for your support!
Land Acknowledgement: Tribes of Warm Springs and Tenino. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land!
What is Smith Rock?
I definitely had to look this up after spending time there. It feels like the rusty spires of rock come out of nowhere and there’s nothing else quite like this in the surrounding areas! Smith Rock has been a favorite of worldwide climbers!
Short answer: volcanic activity. Long answer: The rock spires, cliffs, and canyons lie along a volcanic crater. A massive volcanic depression formed through a series of super-volcanic eruptions around 28 million years ago. Eruptions from the crater deposited massive volumes rock and ash. All of these volcanic features are now well exposed in the rock walls of Smith Rock State Park as the surrounding land eroded away. Pretty wild.
Getting to Smith Rock
- Distance from Seattle: 5 hours
- Distance from Portland: 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Distance from San Francisco: 8 hours
I recommend routing to Smith Rock Parking. This will route you to the biggest parking lot there. Even the parking lot has incredible views! Two outhouses available at parking lot and established bathrooms a short walk from parking lot.
- Day use at $5 a day. Self serve parking machines available in parking lot. Credit card only!
- The America the Beautiful Park Pass is NOT accepted here due to it being a state park.
The Best Hikes in Smith Rock
Smith Rock has over 650 acres to explore and 12 official trails. Trails in order from easy to difficult. Dogs are allowed on leash!
Rim Rock Trail
- Rated as Easy
- Length: 1 mile roundtrip
- Elevation: 22 feet
- Offers views of the rock spires and the Crooked River
Crooked River Trail
- Rated as Easy
- Length: 4.5 miles roundtrip
- Elevation: 321 feet
- Offers multiple perspectives of Smith Rock volcanic formations and walks along the Crooked River
- Rated as Difficult
- Length: 2.2 miles roundtrip
- Elevation: 1,115 feet
- Offers panoramic views from the top and various perspectives on the way up the trail.
Where to Stay near Smith Rock
I recommend using Freecampsites.net to find camping near Smith Rock or your next destination.
If you prefer a hotel or Airbnb, look in these nearby cities!
- Redmond, Oregon
- Bend, Oregon
Get $65 off your first Airbnb by signing up through my link HERE
- If possible, I recommend coming for both sunrise and sunset. Misery Ridge offers great sunset views, but unfortunately no light hits the large rock formations at the viewpoint. However, Misery ridge at sunset does offer great views facing away from the viewpoint when you first complete all of the elevation. Crooked River trail offers great light opportunities at sunrise as well.
- I definitely recommend an ND filter as both times I have taken photos here it has been full sun.
- Expect other people to be trying to take the same photos. I recommend getting there early so you can scope out the shots you want and wait for the best conditions with the least amount of people in your shots!
When You Should Visit & Weather
Autumn is rated as the best time to visit. In the summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees F. YIKES. I have visited in October and had 70 degree weather and May with 75-80 degree temps while hiking and it was a little breezy at the top, so I definitely recommend wearing and packing layers and extra water.
I really enjoyed wearing my lightweight hiking pants shown in the above photos. Get the same ones HERE.
If you’re hanging out in Oregon for a while, be sure to check out my blog 6 BEST PHOTO SPOTS ON THE SOUTHERN OREGON COAST
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