Description - The Smith River is one of the crown jewels of the National Wild and Scenic River System, which recognizes and protects rivers across the country.
- The Smith River is one of the crown jewels of the National Wild Scenic River System,which recognizes and protects rivers across the country. The emerald-green Smith River flows freely and naturally, without a single dam for its entire length-- the only major river system in California to do so. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and rafting opportunities abound on the Smith River.
The river's natural fishery is one of its greatest assets, with more than 175 miles of anadromous fish habitat. The Smith has exceptional runs of salmon and steelhead.
The Smith River abounds with class 4 and 5 rapids on all three forks, and the creeks offer even greater challenges. Most of the 145 miles of navigable white water require a fairly high degree of technical skills from the boater. There are also some Class 2-3 runs on the Middle Fork as well as Class 1-2 areas on the Mainstem of the Smith. These sections allow less experienced paddlers a chance to experience the area from the water.
Recreation - The Smith River offers surprises for even the most seasoned boater --- some rapids may change little for many years, others are different every year and each season offers something new.
Recreation opportunities along the Smith River are not limited to fishing and whitewater paddling. The trail system within the Smith River National Recreation Area is quite extensive and permits hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Four botanicals areas protect unique plant communities and inform visitors through interpretive trails. Camping is allowed at the developed campgrounds as well as in the backcountry.
The Smith River Scenic Byway runs along Highway 199. The drive passes through 27 miles of rugged canyons, turbulent rapids, and redwood forests continuing on to Grants Pass, Oregon.
Climate - Weather in the Smith River area is very changeable. Temperatures in winter may drop into the 30's and 40's with occasional snow. The rainy season normally runs from October through April with an average annual rainfall of 2.55 inches. Summers are dry with 80 to 100 degree temperatures.
Travel within certain areas of the Smith River National Recreation Area may be limited during the rainy season due to the presence of Port Orford Cedar Root Disease, which is transmitted by mud. The mud picked up on car tires and shoe soles can transport the disease to healthy tree populations.
The Smith River flows through the northwest corner of California, near Crescent City.