The Birthplace of Sport Climbing
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Known as a “bona fide climbing town” according to National Geographic Adventure magazine, Smith Rock State Park features some of the most cutting edge climbing routes in the world. Only 30 minutes north of Bend, Oregon, Smith Rock State Park is widely considered the birthplace of modern American sport climbing with literally thousands of established routes to choose from.
Smith Rock is an international rock climbing destination, with renowned routes and climbing areas such as Monkey Face, Mesa Verde Wall, Dihedrals, and others providing a variety of challenges for all skill levels. Check out the photo above by Ben Moon, a Bend local photography star, who managed to capture the spectacular – and kind of scary — views of climbing at Smith Rock.
Smith Rock State Park encompasses 651 acres on the Oregon high desert plateau, which hovers around 3,000 feet in elevation. The park and walk-in tent camping are open year-round. A $5 day use permit or a current state park camp receipt is needed for each vehicle. Yearly permits are available for $30. Day Use permits or available from the self-service pay stations. Dogs are permitted but must remain on a leash at all times.
Hiking trails offer spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the Crooked River which winds its way around and through the park.
Smith Rock’s major rock faces are composed of welded tuff (compressed volcanic ash) reaching a height of up to 550 feet. The picnic and tent camping areas sit on top of the rimrock, which is made up of columnar basalt and provides dramatic views of the Crooked River, climbing routes, and climbers.
Though Smith Rock is a year-round climbing destination, summer temperatures can reach 100 degrees, and winter temperatures often hover around freezing. Spring and fall are the most popular climbing months.
In addition to Smith Rock State Park, Bend offers several other, lesser-known pockets of superb climbing. Check in with one of the local guides or shops for suggestions and directions to other climbing locations in town.