Oregon’s 7 Wonders: Smith Rock

Mimicking the 7 Wonders of the World, the State of Oregon has identified its own 7 Wonders in the Oregon’s Seven Wonders campaign.

Located north of Redmond and just outside of Terrebonne, Smith Rock is Central Oregon’s contribution to the list.

Misery Ridge Trail, Smith Rock State Park

Misery Ridge Trail, Smith Rock State Park

A popular destination within the rock climbing community, people have been scaling the remains of the 30-million-year-old volcanic eruption since the 1960s.

Where to Stay

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Contained almost entirely within Smith Rock State Park, modern-day visitors also come to the region to hike, bike, camp, fish, and view wildlife.

We visited on a Sunday in June and, true to the park’s own warning, found parking in high demand. Early-morning hikers were leaving as we arrived and we felt lucky to secure a spot near the pay station (if you don’t have a state park sticker, you’ll need to purchase a day pass).

Looking Down from the Misery Ridge Trail

Looking Down from the Misery Ridge Trail

Several options exist for day hikers, from a short paved loop around the visitor center and Bivouac camping area to the park’s “most difficult” trails marked with black trail markers (the Misery Ridge Trail falls in this category). If you are a bird watcher, find a ranger and confirm the best trail for viewing the eagle’s nest from above.

We followed the Canyon Trail down to the Crooked River and crossed the footbridge to the “rock” side of the river.  Note: There’s only one way to cross over the river, as pedestrians are not allowed on the horse ford that connects the Homestead Trail with Wolf Tree Trail.

The River Trail is a good option for families with older and younger hikers. As the name implies, the trail follows the Crooked River around to the back side of of Smith Rock. We climbed a bit of the Misery Ridge Trail to illustrate the crazy and somewhat dangerous zig-zag path leading up and over the rock and passing Monkey Face; a prominent tower and one of the best known features at Smith Rock State Park.

Helicopter Landing Area Smith Rock

Footbridge and Helicopter Landing Pad

Worth mentioning is the region’s average 300 days of sunshine; wear sunscreen and bring a sturdy water bottle and wear sturdy shoes. Water bottles can be refilled at the base of the footbridge near the helicopter landing pad (we think it looks like a tree from above).

Happy trails!

smith rock


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.