Nestled in Deschutes National Forest, Smiling River Campground offers visitors some of the most stunning scenery in central Oregon and easy access to an abundance of recreational activities.
Hiking and fishing top the list of recreational activities for visitors.
For anglers, the spring-fed Metolius river offers a stunning setting for fly-fishing. Its clear, cold water supports rainbow trout, whitefish, bull trout and kokanee salmon.
For day hikers and backpackers, the area offers a wide variety of scenic terrain, ranging from riverside trails to routes in subalpine forests.
Smiling River Campground offers sites that accommodate both tent and RV camping, however hookups are not available.
Picnic areas, trails and scenic overlooks, along with the conveniences of firewood, drinking water and flush toilets, give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while still having many of the conveniences of home.
Many sites at this campground look out to Metolius River, a tributary of the Deschutes River.
The headwaters of the river are at Metolius Springs at the base of Black Butte, a 3,076-foot cinder cone. The clear, cold river flows north from the springs through diverse coniferous forest and a landscape of volcanic activity.
The area provides habitat for mammals such as mule deer, coyote and cougar. Migratory birds and native fish also call the area home.
The Metolius-Windigo Trail, open to hikers, bikers and horses, is more than 100 miles in length, and begins near the Metolius River headwaters west of the town of Sisters, Oregon. The trail was created in the 1980s primarily to serve long-distance horse riders seeking an alternative to the Pacific Crest Trail.
Lava Lands Visitor Center in Bend, Oregon, offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the diverse landscape and history of the area through interpretive programs and exhibits.
ADA Access: N
The campsites are all right next to the Metolius River, so most of them have great views and scenic sunsets only a few steps away. There’s quite a few campsites (35), but some of them on the far side from the river are right next to the road, which can account for a bit of noise. In various places around the campground there are 3 water spigots, but there are no black/gray water, electrical, or water hookups for RV’s in the sites. Camp Sherman General Store is a little under a mile and a half away(they have great donuts- just saying). There’s almost always a campfire ban, due to how dry the area can be, which can make the camping a little less enjoyable, but probably safer in perspective. Remember to bring lots of bug repellent, because around the beginning of summer the mosquitoes and gnats are unbearable.
My family and I visited in Mid July so the heat was pretty unbearable if you are in any spot not close to the river. The previous camper left a yellow jacket trap which helped along with Hanging our trash on a far tree but the minute food came out the yellow Jackets swarmed, I suggested bringing some sort of enclosure for your table and eating area. There are a few water outlets for fresh cold central Oregon drinking water which was convenient. The out houses were original to the site but well maintained. If it is hot I would plan to visit surrounding lakes like Suttle or Scout, the Metolius is very cold and runs very fast not good for small children. If you want to explore the area the hatchery is interesting a fun for the kids, also if you need supplies or just about anything the Camp Sherman store is well stocked.