What Could Be Next for Spillover Parking at Smith Rock


August 23, 2018

There was a Deschutes County commissioners workshop meeting yesterday, where Park Manager Scott Brown and Deschutes County Road Department Director Chris Doty proposed to eliminate parking that spills over onto both Wilcox Avenue and 17th Street in Terrebonne just outside Smith Rock State Park.

Since 2013 the number of day-use and camping visitors more than doubled during the past five years, while parking was taken away on the main access road into the park, Crooked River Drive.

The park's solution has been to add 150 spots in a grassy overflow parking lot past the main entrance on the way to the Turnaround Parking Lot by the Northern Point

With parking saturation at 450 spots, including the overflow lot, visitors turned elsewhere in the peak season weekends of spring and fall, summer vacation season, and generally nice days all year round.

They chose a mile stretch of Wilcox and a half mile of 17th, causing congestion as cars maneuver for spots and people wander into the streets to reach or leave their cars. With as many as 250 cars at one count in the residential neighborhood, the impact has been sorely felt, and the potential for injuries to pedestrians great.

 overflow parking lot at Smith Rock State Park

overflow parking lot at Smith Rock State Park

 when the 450 parking spots at Smith Rock State Park are at saturation, parking spills over onto nearby Wilcox Ave.

when the 450 parking spots at Smith Rock State Park are at saturation, parking spills over onto nearby Wilcox Ave.

In the proposal, no parking on Wilcox from the canal on the east, to 9th street on the west, nor parking on 17th from Wilcox to Smith Rock Way would be allowed.

This, in turn, would eliminate the congestion and potential for injuries to pedestrians as well as keep the number of visitors down when the park hits saturation levels.

 current spillover parking in residential areas along Smith Rock State Park

current spillover parking in residential areas along Smith Rock State Park

To make this work, Smith Rock State Park and the county proposed to provide a shuttle service and offsite parking up at Terrebonne Elementary school. The shuttle would be offered by Cascades East Transportation at minimal cost, actually cheaper than the $5 fee at the park. Available the busy holiday weekends, the bulk of summer weekends and any special events. There are discussions with potential property owners in the area that may also provide parking.

Approval of the plan will take some time, as any changes to the current parking rules require approval from the Deschutes County Commission, which would need to turn over enforcement of a parking ban to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Brown and Doty are hoping to have the new plan in place for the spring season. More to come...