Smith River

Bird’s Eye View

The Smith River, California’s last undammed river system, is remote and wild in every aspect. The only thing predictable about a Smith River kayaking trip is that it is unpredictable. From weather to flows, the Smith River is almost guaranteed to change last minute. For this reason, not many commercial outfitters run trips on the Smith. It is dependent on rainfall and rises quickly. If it is raining, there will most likely be runnable flows for the next few days.

California Whitewater

Smith River Whitewater Photo Gallery


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The Smith in a Nutshell

Difficulty: Class III, IV, & V

Gradient: 44 ft/mi (North), 20 ft/mi (Middle), 50 ft/mi (Oregon Hole), 40 ft/mi (South)

Length: 13 miles (NF), 14 (MF), 2 (Oregon Hole), 11.5 (SF)

Season: December – April (or whenever it rains!)

Sections: North Fork, Middle Fork, Oregon Hole Gorge, & South Fork

Who should go: Anyone who is willing to drive the distance to get to one of California’s most spectacular rivers.

California Whitewater

Whitewater & Scenery

Whitewate & SceneryTransparent turquoise water, coastal redwoods, and a maritime ecosystem make the Smith River unique from other California Rivers. The scenery is stunning and there is a great range of whitewater difficulty levels, from Class III to Class V. Part of the reason the scenery is so green, is that the Smith is located in California’s only rainforest.

Read more about Smith River Whitewater.

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River Flows

River FlowsThe Smith is a rocky drainage that is rain dependent and runs in the winter when the weather is cold and wet.

Learn more about Smith River Flows.

California Whitewater


LogisticsSome of the runs, such as the North Fork of the Smith, require a pretty serious shuttle to put-in. Others are roadside along Highway 199. Permits aren’t necessary.

Keep reading about Smith River Logistics.

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Smith Video


Watch a Smith River video before you see it up close.

California Whitewater

Places to Eat, Places to Stay
& Things To Do

Places To EatPlaces To StayThings To Do

California Whitewater

Local Gear Shops

Local Gear ShopsBuy gear and other supplies for your whitewater trip on the Smith in Arcata or Online.

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