Access and Interpretive Information
The North Fork of the Crooked River is popular with hunters seeking remote big game opportunities, primarily elk and deer. A seasonally-open gate at Telephone Springs limits motorized use annually from April 30 to December 1 to protect wildlife. High-clearance vehicles are advised to access some of the area’s backcountry. No roads in the North Fork directly access the Crooked River on BLM lands; a hike-in is required.
The Chimney Rock segment includes a Wild and Scenic River information kiosk located 17 miles south of Prineville on State Highway 27. Here, visitors can obtain updated messages and view a river corridor map.
No roads directly access the Lower Crooked River; one must hike in from the Otter Bench trailhead in Crooked River Ranch.
Day-Use and Camping
Along the Chimney Rock Segment, two day-use areas are available: Greenwood and Upper Lone Pine Recreation Sites. Each has fishing access, picnic tables and a vault toilet. No fee is charged.
The Chimney Rock segment offers the only developed camping along the Crooked River. Nine non-reservable campgrounds are available year-round for a fee of $8 per night for individual campsites. Two group campsites located at Lone Pine and Big Bend Campgrounds are available for $16 per night and extra vehicles cost an additional $2 per night at all sites. Drinking water is available only at Chimney Rock Campground. Fishing platforms are available at Palisades and Chimney Rock campgrounds.
Chimney Rock Segment Campgrounds and Day-Use Areas
- Castle Rock Campground, 12.4 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Stillwater Campground, 13.5 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Greenwood Day-Use Area, 14.4 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Lone Pine Campground, 14.8 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Upper Lone Pine Day-Use Area, 14.9 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Palisades Campground, 15.3 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Chimney Rock Campground, 16.4 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Cobble Rock Campground, 17.1 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Post Pile Campground, 18.0 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Poison Butte Campground, 8.3 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
- Big Bend Campground, 19.2 miles south of Prineville on Highway 27
The North Fork of the Crooked River has no designated trails; however, some former roads have given way to natural reclamation and are accessible to those with cross-country navigation skills.
The Chimney Rock trail is the sole hiking trail along the more developed Chimney Rock segment and is accessed across State Highway 27 from its namesake campground. The moderately-steep out-and-back trail gains 500 feet over 1.4 miles and ends at the foot of Chimney Rock. Wide open rimrock views offer vistas of basalt lava, the Crooked River below and old-growth Western juniper trees. Bicycles and horses are not allowed on the Chimney Rock trail.
Located on the bench atop the gorge of the Lower Crooked River, the 7.4 mile Otter Bench trail system includes an expansive network of trails over near-vertical canyon walls and is generally open to hiking, mountain biking and equestrian. The steep, staircase-like descents of the Lone Pine and Pink trails make these two trails open to hiking only. Due the presence of nesting raptors nearby, the Horney Hollow trail is closed seasonally from February 1 through August 31.
River Access and Boating
The North Fork and Lower Crooked River are generally inaccessible to most floaters due to low flows or the expert skill level required of them (up to Class V rapids are present). Only the Chimney Rock segment offers both almost continuous riverside access and some boat-able water during Spring-season flows. Still, advanced boating skills area required to float this section. Hike-in, informal fishing access is available along the North Fork of the Crooked River. However, The Lower Crooked River has only two river access points both of which require a steep hike-in descent into the gorge. Rattlesnakes are common here in the warm months of the year.
The North Fork segment is known for its wild rainbow and redband trout and one must hike to get to remote fishing holes where you are likely to find solitude under old-grown Ponderosa pine trees. The Chimney Rock segment is a classic tail-water fishery, open to fly-fishing year-round. This segment offers great dry fly and nymph fishing and is excellent for beginning fly fishers. The Lower Crooked River offers a remote hike-in experience to the river but with limited options for explorations beyond due to the presence of blocking boulders and thick vegetation.