Smithrock Master Plan

Thanks for your patience with my podcast. There is way more involved than I realized, and life is full on at the moment.

Since I was unable to attend the Smithrock Master Plan Meetings in October, I wrote this letter to voice my opinion. There are probably things I left out/want to add to it. Nonetheless, I want to hear what others have to say. If the formatting is hard to read, you can click here to download the document. If you want to send me a private message, I can be reached at




This is all from my observations since arriving to Smith in 2010 and living in Bend from 2011-2016, and staying in Terrebonne since the spring of 2017. For the most part, hikers and climbers are no different in that they all want the shortest hike to get to their objective whether it be pretty views or climbing. The majority of climbers will always want to go to the main area and the Phoenix to climb the moderate classics. Helping to disperse people in their capacity for their activity is the most logical way to approach the need for change at the park. Knowing and understanding these capacities are important.



  • NO RESERVATIONS: At the Bivy


      1. Cultural Climate is part of the preservation. We all come to this public land to enjoy the natural world. A reservation system imposes the scheduled life of the consumer society to purchase a “certain space in a certain time” is, through my lens, unlawfully occupying public land.
      2. It’s bound to fail technologically at some point, causing more expenses for management and will undoubtedly turn away the people that are physically there to camp.
      3. The culture of Smith climbing is unique in many ways, one of them being the walk-up camping. This is a historical precedence in the state and national park systems that attract climbers. Preservation of such history should be first and foremost to those whose main objective is preserving the flora & fauna of Smithrock. We are part of the fauna, people, please understand that this place, as it is, teaches and creates community. I am convinced that this is due to the walk-up and communal cooking environment. The tagless tent system is also an integral part of it, because it empowers campers freedom of experience.
    1. NO GATES: Adding a gate anywhere, especially the bivy, will cause more traffic, a disturbance through visual/noise pollution, mechanical errors and added overall cost to maintain.
      1. A simple digital app system modeled after the NFS Fire Warning dial should be able to very easily be updated the head ranger. Have one for the bivy and one for day-use. I am sure that the programmers at based in downtown Bend, or some comparable 3rd party, would be able to develop a solid system for the OPRD to employ.
        1. Digital Counters and gates would make it a zoo, and they don’t work unless someone is monitoring them. The better thing to do is have one go look and assess and update the dial. On the hour updates of the parking situation from a human.
      2. Scenario: People pay for parking at the bivy and go to buy groceries and then the gate will be closed.
      3. No fencing is necessary on Wilcox.


  • Slackliners Field Access Remains


      1. Wildlife Preservation: This area of land has been nearly untouched for centuries and is a part of the greater area of preserved land at Smith and into Grey Butte. It is a part of a larger whole that is a wildlife refuge. To change this nearly undisturbed land to become high volume traffic with vehicles will destroy the ecosystems the park is meant to preserve.
      2. Denigrates the Majesty of Smith: This plan places obstructions and congestion that destroys the overall beauty of the park.
      3. Obtrusive to Neighbors: Puts high traffic directly in yards and fields.
      4. There are multiple distinct “rogue trails” that are not marked in area 1A on any of the proposals. I visited this area of the park when I first arrived in 2010 and there were very few distinct trails or human tracks. Over the years I visited a few times more recently, and again yesterday. It seems like the park system is preparing this area to be opened up, or it has experienced higher volumes of traffic this year. There are multiple distinct rogue trails. I even saw Thanksgiving Day visiting hikers on the trail yesterday with their dog off leash.
        1. Imagine areas that haven’t seen human footprints for years to be trampled. Acres where the largest disturbance is at this moment the presence of 3 or 4 humans beings.


  • No reservations.
  • Digital monitoring system. A simple digital app system modeled after the NFS Fire Warning dial can be created to be very easily updated by the camp host. I am sure that the programmers at based in downtown Bend, or some comparable 3rd party, would be able to develop a solid system for the OPRD to employ.


        1. Scenario: Technology will fail People pay for parking at the bivy and someone else claims they paid for it from their desk that morning in Portland.


  • BIVY: Leave the current bivy as it is


        1. One exception: make the entire back curved section on the south side cooking accessible from the cars.


  • Add Overnight Car Lot:


        1. Allow RV, vans and cars to sleep in vehicles.
          1. Location:
            1. In the Current Overflow Parking:
              1. Already set up for this, just needs some re-design, (see the OVERFLOW section of this proposal)
            2. In grass lot in front of the Existing Ranger Station
              1. Creates overnight disturbances to wildlife.
              2. This is the better location for the visitors center.
        2. Disperses campers and creates more “camping” spaces, while managing parking simultaneously.
        3. Preserves bivy. In fact, restores bivy to pre- “van-life” days.
        4. Add picnic tables. Same cooking rules apply. No fires.
      1. No Gate.


  • BRIDGE- Phoenix/South Ford


      1. Reasons for the Phoenix bridge
        1. Quick Access: Provides quick access from the overflow parking lot or bivy.
        2. Alternate Route: It is pretty much just diverting people away from the top of the Canyon Trail by the pavilion, so it solves the problem of congestion without having to change infrastructure or management.
          1. In your studies, 90% crossed Dean’s bridge, 45% took Misery ridge. That means they didn’t go uphill, they stayed on the easy trails. Imagine the disbursement with all the trails on this side of the river, avoiding the River Trail in the Main Area, to take the Phoenix Bridge on their way to the Monkey.
        3. Minimal Impact: The wildlife surrounding the Rope De Dope Block and through to the Phoenix is already experiencing higher volumes of traffic, this would keep the human traffic contained within this area without creating a large impact on preserved areas as other proposals would.
        4. Hiker View: Increase the amount of easy trail network from the Rope De Dope to the river. Remember, most people want to see the main area and the monkey, and they don’t want to hike far. Anyone that would hike up from a Southern Tip bridge to see the Monkey, would probably hike from here, too.
        5. Climber View: Another route to have quick access to the main area and the backside. Preserves the “home crags.” Does not provide quicker access to the Marsupials or Student Wall.
        6. Equestrian View: In research.
      2. Southern Tip Bridge- Reasons for Opposition
        1. In order for a bridge at this location to successfully disperse people through the park, it would rank humans rights above the rights of the flora and fauna, and everything in section 4 of this proposal.
        2. Climbers View: You still have to walk all the way up from the Southern Tip, which is the lowest elevation away from the Monkey. Access through Asterisk’s Pass would inevitably be shorter through Dean’s bridge or even with a new Phoenix bridge.
        3. Hikers View: Attractive aspects of quicker access to the backside. But remember, most people want to see the main area and the monkey, and they don’t want to hike far. The less able are not likely to hike up to the monkey, they would opt for a stroll to the main area, instead.
        4. Equestrian View: In research.
        5. Mtn Biking View: Super fun, avoid climbing crowds, but would it be worth it if this access was primarily used by day hikers that have low trail etiquette.
        6. The trail would be limited in the winter because of the dangers of ice, making this entrance likely to be closed at least 5 months of the year.
      3. Northern Point Bridge: Reasons for Opposition
        1. Falcon Nesting Disturbance: Higher volume access, especially around the clock with a bivy, would undoubtedly create major disturbance to the birds.
        2. Wildlife Disturbance: Higher volume access, especially around the clock with a bivy, would create a disturbance to the wildlife in the riparian.
        3. Hiker’s View: Does not make access to see the Monkey shorter or less congested.
        4. Climber’s View: Does not create any closer access to the backside established routes. Does create quicker access to the Monument, Marsupials and Student Wall. Having a bridge here would cause more people to go to these areas, however I don’t think it would reduce the overpowering draw to the main area.
        5. Mtn Biker’s View: Quicker access to Burma Road.
        6. Equestrian View: In research.
    1. Current Overflow Parking Lot:
        1. Why do all 3 proposed concepts, Smith Rock Concepts A-C, all include the visitor center at the current overflow parking lot? That is not variety or option.
        2. It is obstructive visually and audibly.
      2. Redesign it to maximize capacity
        1. If we added a little bit more pavement to the left and repaint the lines to make more effective use of space for better flow.
        2. Will easily generate more parking.
        3. Keeping RV and Trailer parking
        4. Adding In-Car Camping
      3. No Gate.


  • Visitors Center


      1. Location:


  • In front of the Existing Field Station


          1. Encourages use of the Easy Rim Trail and moderate Homestead Trail for the lazy newcomers who follow only the main signs.
          2. Disperses traffic and reduces congestion on the road trying to stop at the yurt.
          3. Not as obstructive
        1. Current Yurt Location: Temporarily move the yurt to be in front of the Existing Field Station or in the temporary parking grass field there. Build a structure in the Yurt’s current location to suit the needs of Smith.
        2. All other proposed options are invalid.
      1. Does not need to have a capacity for more than 65 people.
      2. If you build a HUGE visitor center, it will attract hoards of people with press. Terrebonne is a humble place that doesn’t need that type of attraction. If we want to have the mindset of minding overgrowth through parking plans, we must also be mindful of this through the visitor center plans.
      3. Utilize the budget to create an interface that future years can interact with. You don’t need to be in a mansion to have the mind of a millionaire.
      4. Keep it unobtrusive and blending with the environment.
      5. Should be an educational resource for the local school districts.
      6. 30 Minute Parking spots: Have a 1:1 ratio with handicap parking
    1. PARKING:
      1. Have 30 min spots at visitors center and bathrooms only. Don’t add a bunch of short term limited time use spots. It will only create vacant spots that require patrolling.
      2. Change the 15 minute spots to be 30 minute.
      3. The parking along the road is only a problem because people park too close to the fences. If there were visible markings to separate the walking area between the fence and the cars, people wouldn’t be walking in the road.
    2. Bathrooms: (I would like to volunteer to help with these projects)
      1. Add CXT Vault Toilet at North Point and Two worm composting toilets in the climbing areas.
      2. Add CXT Vault Toilet at New bridge location on the west side of the river.
    3. Vanderbilt Property (Land East of Crooked River Dr)
      1. The only use I would consider for this land would be for unpaved for park management use.
    4. No Buses
    5. Charge Extra for Large Groups
      1. Commercial Guiding services incur fees in every other park across the country. The fact that Smith is unregulated may be a factor in the high volume of large groups.
    6. Marketing Efforts for Smith should be requested to be minimized to the travel boroughs.
    7. Adding a designated Mountain Biking Trail is a great idea. Unclear exactly how to implement that right now.
    8. I would like to Volunteer to help Connect Loop Trail from Rim Trail To Canyon Trail.
    9. QUESTIONS IN REGARDS TO NOTES FROM THE OCTOBER 2017 MEETINGS (With response from the State)
      1. Why is there a note from the meetings to remove junipers from the riparian?


  • We have proposed the removal of some juniper as the species uses an enormous amount of water outcompeting some native species. Our vegetation assessment calls for the reintroduction of native plantings including ponderosa pine along the river corridor.


      1. Who is profiting from the proposed Shuttle Service? What business or organization?


  • We have not settled on a decision as to whether we would establish a shuttle service for the park and have therefore not worked out the details of who would manage the shuttles.


      1. CONCEPT A. #1-3: Are there detailed descriptions of exactly where and how this is going to happen?
        1.   We did not explore the detailed design of the proposals yet.  Once we have filtered through the comments we can begin to discuss the best potential options for the park and delve into the design details a little more. As master plans are typically tied to a 20 year timeline we cannot promise the actual implementation of these proposals for some time.  One of the next steps in the planning process will include determining priority projects and phases for project implementation
      2. CONCEPT C.1:
        1. What type of trail to Terrebonne?
        2. What would the roadside parking look like?


  • This response is similar to the last as we had only listed this trail on one of the options.  The initial intent would be a paved multi-modal trail but would require additional discussions with the county.  The addition of this trail would simultaneously eliminate the option for roadside parking on Wilcox.


      1. What changes are being made to the Rim Trail?


  • We have only illustrated the idea of connecting the rim trail to the north point area.  It is currently a compacted ¼ minus surface and works quite well for a wide variety of users. Would you have any additional recommendations for changes to it?


      1. Who is representing the climbers?


  • We have a climbing guide company, Smith Rock Group, and Access Fund representatives in the advisory committee as well as all of the public climbing representatives in attendance at the meetings and submitting comments.  We also have internal staff who are passionate climbers and regular Smith Rock visitors who continue to contribute throughout the process.


    1. I don’t really understand how you are not accounting for management at the same time as the masterplan. Seems like an illogical and poor business decision. How can you account for the overall budget without planning in conjunction with each other?
      1.  We are currently having internal discussions as to how we might go about developing a management plan simultaneously.




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