Family friendly easy top rope climbing at the famous Smith Rock, Oregon
It isn’t always easy to find a good family-friendly top roping area that has safe access to the top anchors, is located in a decent area to hang out in, etc. Basically a good place to spend part of the day with the family.
After a lot of web research (not just Smith but the greater Bend area) and talking to a rock guide at Smith, I visited multiple areas at Smith and selected two of them for my book, “Fifty Classic Adventures”. Here they are forthwith:
Rope de Dope is a great place to hang out and even has a picnic table there. Unfortunately it can get a little crowded, which is why I included a second (less crowded) spot further down the river (on the other side though).
You also get to do a little bit of Via Ferrata because to reach the top anchors you have to go up and behind (left side) and then climb the metal rungs cemented into the rock. There used to be a fixed rope with steps but this is much better. Twelve climbs are listed in Mountain Project but there are only a few in the moderate 5.8/5.9 range.
A rather strange myth about Rope de Dope is that a bachelor party was allegedly held here and alcohol was consumed. Search and Rescue received a call that someone had fallen off the top. Turns out the groom had fallen, but landed flat on the picnic table, shattered it, and survived. Sounds like a myth to me.
I like waterfall slab just past the southern point (back across the bridge and downstream from Rope de Dope. It is about a 30 minute walk through the park but it is past most of the crowds. There’s a nice area along the river for kids to hang and play in the sand if they are not climbing. You can walk to the top to set up anchors for two of the three climbs and they are in the 5.6 and 5.7 range so a little easier than Rope de Dope.