The Smith River and its many forks is a jewel of a river system in the far northwestern corner of California. It is one of the state’s great free-flowing rivers and is protected as a National Wild and Scenic River by the federal government. The Smith drains the western slopes of the Siskiyou Mountains in California and Southern Oregon and features California’s only rain forest-like environment. It flows through the Six Rivers National Forest and is designated as a National Recreation Area.
Rafters can look forward to unique plant life like lacy Port-Orford cedar, orchids, pitcher plants, azaleas and wild flowers. Wildlife like black-tailed deer, otters, bald eagles and black bear are easy to spot on the Smith. The gin-clear waters also make for excellent fishing.
Rafting outfitters offer day trips down both the Main Smith and the North and South Fork of the Smith River. The north fork is a 13-mile pristine wilderness run through Class III and IV rapids. The river mellows out on the main section, which features some easy Class IIs, and the south fork is mostly Class III.