Winner: Smith Rock, Terrebonne
Photo by Tyler Roemer
Geologists call it welded tuff, rock climbers call it unwieldy and tough. Rising 300 to 550 feet above the high desert, Smith Rock’s vertical walls and spires attract rock climbers of all skill levels. Inside Smith Rock State Park, a thousand routes, including several on iconic Monkey Face, allow novice and experienced climbers to test their nerves. If cliff hanging isn’t for you, watch from a safe distance atop Misery Ridge Summit, which also has stunning views in all directions. Park visitors can horseback ride, mountain bike or hike miles of trails in and around the park. Keep an eye out for rattlesnakes in warm months.
Runner-Up: Tam McArthur Rim, Bend
Photo by Christian Heeb
This moderately difficult hike within the Three Sisters Wilderness showcases the alpine volcanic environment at its best. The trailhead starts at Three Creek Lake about twenty miles out of Sisters on a steep switchback trail that leads to Tam McArthur Rim. At this 8,000-foot elevation, the views of Broken Top and the Sisters are unparalleled. To the east, it’s all desert. The roundtrip is five miles, or much longer for experienced backcountry hikers who want to climb the South Sister via Green Lakes. Note: The 2012 Pole Creek Fire burned in this area, so check with the U.S. Forest Service before going.