Smith Rock

Smith Rock State Park to Partially Close for 4 Weeks This Summer Due to Construction

Monkey Face, Misery Ridge Trail, and other features will be off limits between mid-July and mid-August.

By Sam Stites January 20, 2023

Construction work to replace the bridge in Smith Rock State Park that crosses the Crooked River will shut down half of the park this summer for an undisclosed four-week period.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced the partial closure this week, stating that parks officials will know more about exactly when bridge construction will commence as summer draws closer and two environmental factors impacting the work become clearer. One is that construction noise is not permitted during raptor nesting season, which runs from January through August 1, but work can begin if nests have fledged or “failed.” The other time constraint is that in-water work on the bridge must be completed between July 1 and August 15.

The 50-year-old bridge was modified 30 years ago and is the only crossing of the Crooking River within the park. Its replacement will be moved out of a 100-year floodplain to protect it from high-water events, as well as be less at risk for warping, according to park manager Matt Davey. 

The 50-year-old bridge spanning the Crooked River in Smith Rock State Park needs replacement due to "warping" and "overturning." The replacement will also remove the bridge from a 100-year floodplain and eliminate risk of high-water damage. 

 “What we’ve been seeing is that it’s warping and overturning, which is what's necessitating the replacement at this time,” Davey says. “It’s also going to be two feet wider, which is going to help with visitation demand.”

The portion under closure contains some of the park's most famous natural features, such as the landmark column Monkey Face, the Morning Glory Wall, and Misery Ridge Trail. 

Davey says that depending on the two environmental factors, as well as whether the contractor decides to remove the old bridge via crane or helicopter, construction could be longer or shorter than the predicted four weeks. He says they’re hopeful work can begin sometime in July and be wrapped up by mid-August. 

While the Crooked River is low in the summer and there are places where visitors could wade across, Davey says they’re urging people not to do so. Because the park attracts such dedicated climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, and other adventurers, small accidents—which normally wouldn't be a problem—taking place across the river could result in major headaches for local emergency medical services.

“It makes it tough for our first responders, so what we want is to try to not have (accidents) happen,” he says.

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