Today on the Land Use Trail: Smith Rock

Throughout the summer, we'll be featuring stops on our new Land Use Trail. Today, August 5: Smith Rock. Formed by ancient volcanic activity, Smith Rock is a very active place today, with hundreds of thousands of annual visitors coming to climb, hike, or camp amid its fantastic formations.

About:  Smith Rock is located in Deschutes County, near the towns of Redmond and Terrebonne. It is the namesake of Smith Rock State Park, which encompasses over 650 acres on the Oregon high desert plateau. The park features many outstanding hiking trails offering extraordinary views and is home to some of the best sport climbing trails in the country—providing a major economic boon for Central Oregon. 1000 Friends fought hard several decades ago against a proposed massive destination resort that would have marred the unique beauty of the site.

Key Fact: Smith Rock was formed by volcanic activity 14 million years ago during the Miocene epoch.

Another Cool Fact: There is no single Smith “Rock”; in fact, the formation contains a number of rock formations. No one knows precisely who the formation was named for—leading contenders include a Linn County sheriff and an Army private who fell from the rock in 1863.

One more cool fact: Smith Rock became a state park in the 1960s. Today, nearly 500,000 people visit the park every year.

Visit: The best time to visit Smith Rock is during the spring, summer and fall. While the desert can be cool at night, it can also reach 100+ degrees during the day. Learn more about Smith Rock State Park. 

Learn More:

Going to Smith Rock this summer? Share your photos with us! We'll pass them on. Several ways to share!

See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

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Text by Nathen Lamb, Communications Intern. Photo: Patrick Gensel. Creative Commons.