Monday, September 16, 2013

Smith Rock State Park Rocks!

Smith Rock State Park lies a few miles East of Redmond, OR. It's a unique geologic wonder in the area. Formed by volcanic action millions of years ago, today it is sheer tuff and basalt cliffs rising abruptly from the desert along the curvy green banks of the Crooked River.

This is one popular park that we don't mind hiking on a happens to be a world renowned rock climbing destination, so we hoped to see some people on the massive rock faces.

On our last visit to Bend in 2008 it was too hot to do more than walk along the river; this time, even though it was warm, we hiked about four miles, taking the Misery Ridge Trail up and over, then down the back side on the Mesa Verde Trail, with a return along the river, around the South end of the formations.

From the parking area this massive wall of multi-colored rock looms imposingly over the Crooked River canyon.

You can see Misery Ridge Trail cutting across the mountainside
just below the striking purple-red rock on the NE face.

Looking SW you can see tiny specks of people walking along the river below the rock spires.

The trail heads up the the mountainside...they don't call it Misery Ridge for nothing!

And up!
You can see a tiny figure atop the center rock, we'll be there shortly.

The view to the North is worth the climb.

Looking South we see a pretty mix of farm and desert land.
In the distance the two of the Three Sisters, Broken Top and Mt Bachelor are faintly visible.

And then we see this crazy colorful sheer-faced rock jutting out from the West wall!

It is massive and has climbing clips (?) attached.
We would LOVE to see a person on this!

We saw two of these rescue kiosks in the park.

Yeah, I'm kind of fascinated by that spire!
But, look closely, there is a tiny blue speck near the center of the photo.
And an even tinier white speck near the crease at the top left.

That white speck is a climbers helmet!

The West side of the mountain is just as beautiful as the East.

We wondered why cables were strung between rocks in several places.

A string of people making their way up the cliff.

I think this was one of several climbing classes.

North West view.

Looking South we see the lava flow that directs the course of the river.

Coming around the South end of the range the rock face becomes more jagged.

And then a section of smooth rock.

And more climbers. This was a hot day, temps edging into the 80's at 11am;
the rock face had to be much warmer.

There are two climbers on this wall.

Three on this wall...

Heading back up the opposite side of the canyon towards the car,
we noticed tiny specks of people atop the colorful rock at the North end.

Closer inspection (full zoom here) showed what those wires strung between rocks was for!

Hiking here was an awesome experience. We overheard folks telling a park ranger they had seen eight otters swimming in the river. Next time I'll have to tear my focus away from the rocks and pay a little more attention to the water as well!


  1. Gosh. There are crazy people everywhere!

  2. You are sure making me miss Bend! I love the photo of the whole Bend valley and well known peaks in the distance, but the one of you and Hans is glowing.

    It was also too hot the day we hiked there, but your photos have convinced me that Misery Ridge is on my list for next year.

  3. WOW those are amazing rocks! Would you consider rock climbing?

  4. When we were last there, the cables were not out there for the seriously crazy people to walk across. That makes my palms sweat just looking at the photos. I love Misery Ridge, it's such a nice hike. Great pictures.

    1. Yep, seriously crazy! There were numerous cables all over the park! Even connecting to that amazing Monkey Face pillar!

  5. That looks like our kind of hike. Love the rocks, but not for that kind of climbing!

  6. No wonder you didn't see the river! I would have had trouble even watching the trail. Those people are crazy! I thought the climbers were a little nuts but those wire walkers really took the cake. Even safety rope wouldn't be enough for me. How neat to watch all that going on! Great show!

    I love the spire!! What great colors! I certainly understand the fascination:)

  7. My many beautiful and CRAZY photos! Very nice, I feel a Pacific Northwest road trip coming on next year. I'll be sure to find those rocks. thanks
    Box Canyon Mark