Earlier this month we took a road trip to dog-friendly Bend, Oregon for our 1-year Anniversary. For once we were packed and all ready to go 3 or 4 days before our scheduled bug-out day. If you ever think that time goes too fast, try packing for a trip you are super excited about a few days before and then waiting. Slooooooow doesn’t begin to describe the feeling.
We decided to leave a day early and camp somewhere along the way. We looked at places to stay between here and there and felt it was silly to drive 3 or 4 of the 7 hours it was going to take just to sleep in our car.
S is a former rock climber, and I have worked in the outdoor industry part-time for years….and have some climbing friends, so the infamous climbing spot, Smith Rock State Park, stood out to us. It is considered the birthplace of modern American sport climbing, and is host to cutting-edge climbing routes.
Neither of us had been there, and it was only 40 minutes north of our final destination, so we decided to stay there Tuesday night.
I researched campgrounds in the area. There are a decent amount of walk-in camp spots inside of the park (you can’t sleep in your car and the camp sites are a bit away from the parking spots) and a drive-in campsite, Skull Hollow, a few minutes east. Camping in your car was allowed at the drive in campsites so we picked there. We would be getting in after dark and getting up early and didn’t want to bother with a tent.
There was no reservation system for these camp spots. It was good news because there was possibly one available for us. It was bad news because there possibly wouldn’t be one available for us.
We figured that the place might be jammed packed with summer climbers, even on a weeknight and that we might not find a camp spot when we got there. We decided to give it a shot anyway because, worst-case scenario, we could poach a parking spot on the side of the road somewhere to sleep or get a (hopefully cheap) hotel room in the nearby town (we did bring a tent too in case there was only a walk-in camping option).
We did arrive after dark. Not having been to the area, and only having a not-to-scale schematic map to go off of, we got a little lost. We drove down a few roads looking for the drive in campsite and turned around when we figured we went way too far. We ended up back at the State Park and didn’t want to snoop around for a walk-in campsite there. We were able to pull up the crappy map again and saw that maybe we hadn’t gone far enough…so back down the road we went.
We managed to find the Skull Hollow Campground. It certainly wasn’t obvious from the main road where it was. We pulled in and there was no one there. Out of the 28 spots, there were only 5 campers including us and the hosts. The campground was undeveloped with no electrical hookup and only a pit toilet….so if you ever want to stay there, expect to be self-sufficient.
We shoved the back-seat stuff into the front seat, laid the back seats flat and went to sleep. We got up not long after the sun rose, did the whole gear-shuffle routine backwards and went to Smith Rock State Park to do a little hiking.
I am a Geologist by training so I may be a little biased but the park was beautiful. It’s mostly volcanic rock – welded tuff and basalt – that is part of a large volcanic caldera.
We hiked around for a little over an hour before heading down the road for Bend.