Smith Rock State Park

Just at the outskirts of Redmond is a special place where majestic rock spires rise above the Crooked River. The area, called Smith Rock State Park is a year-round destination for rock climbers around the world.  There are routes throughout the park for beginner climbers and the expert as well.  There are mountain bike and horse trails. There are wonderful walking trails along the Crooked River and up and around the rock spires.  There are deer (we saw a mom and her still-spotted baby), lots of birds (we saw a blue heron in the river) and otters.  The orientation of the rock spires allow for excellent photography of some of the spires in the morning and the other spires in the evening.  It is a good idea to pack a lunch to enjoy in a shady area.  You will want to spend the whole day.

From the parking lot area.  Already I was in awe!

Tom went right this time while Cory and I walked left.  This is looking north in the park.

Looking westward with early morning light reflecting off the Phoenix Buttress (far left), one of many rock climbing walls.

I believe Tom is returning to the main path and would be facing more southward.

A path with many switchbacks, both on this side of the mountain and then again on the north side.  This is the beginning of the Misery Ridge Trail.  You just keep climbing and climbing and climbing.  On the back side of Misery Ridge, the trail joins up with the Mesa Verde Trail.  For the hikers in our group (I know who you are), this would be a challenging hike.  Just promise me you will take your camera to get the photos I cannot go get.

Taken from above the valley near the parking lot.

I encouraged Cory to try my fish-eye lens to take in a wider shot.  Pretty good for a new fish's perspective!  The lens is not for the faint of heart as it takes practice to get its maximum value.

This was taken about half way down the path from the parking lot to the river.  We spotted the deer below us.

A nicely tended green helipad.  I would imagine there are enough climbers and hikers that are injured in the park to warrant a good landing spot for emergency rescue teams.

In blue, a mountain climber starts up . . . . or is he heading down?

A closer shot of Phoenix Buttes.

Lots of wildflowers and blueberry bushes.

Cory having some fun with a fish-eye lens.  She may just HAVE to get one.

Looking north.

After shooting all the wide angle shots, just trying to get in the magnitude of the park, I realized that the intricate patterns in the rock above me were being short-changed.  The rock is rugged, sharp looking, scar appearing and most amazing.

After lunch we hiked to the north end of the park and look down on the Crooked River.

Tom was setting up a shot and a kid came up, seemingly right out of the rocks!  Then another kid, and another and then more. Young rock climbers, just kids!

North end of the park.

Cory trying out a manual focus 55mm prime macro lens.

We went back to check out the evening light on the rocks.  Not too shabby.  This image was taken outside the park overlooking private property.

I was about 50 feet from where Tom was shooting.  I got the river down below but the trees covered part of the mountain.  The light was either bright or subdued depending on the clouds above us.

From a trail on the south ridge and looking northward, some of the rock is already in the dark.  If you look closely you can see the Misery Trail switchbacks.  The upper right shows the rocks at the north end of the park.

Tom's take on from the same area.

With changing seasons, weather, and light, this park could keep a photographer busy year-round.  The fourteen hiking paths are rated for difficulty, with four of them listed as the most difficult.  There are separate trails for mountain biking and horseback riding.  If there was nothing else to do in Central Oregon, spending much more time at the Park would be easier.