The Smith River is unique since it is the only river system without any dam in California. This makes it great for whitewater boating since the entire river system is available for any length trip. The drainage contains many low volume creeks as well as larger volume rivers.

Kayakers in the South Fork of the Smith Gorge

Kayakers in the South Fork of the Smith Gorge

The rocky soils of the area absorb little water so the rivers tend to run immediately after rain and drop quickly when the rain stops. Since the flows on the Smith are rarely consistent, the whitewater runs can be challenging in different ways each paddling trip.

Sundance Kayak School Instructor J.R. on the Smith River

Sundance Kayak School Instructor J.R. on the Smith River

The rainy season can begin in November and usually ends some time in April. River flows are sometimes impossible to predict even a week in advance. At lower flows the Oregon Hole Gorge and the South Fork Gorge are usually runnable. All the runs are great when the flows are moderate, and at high water many of the easier runs like the Mary Adams Run and the South Fork of the Smith are fun with the long wave trains and challenging rapids.

At the bottom of a tough rapid in Oregon Hole Gorge

At the bottom of a tough rapid in Oregon Hole Gorge

When you come paddling in this region be prepared for cold weather, rain, and variable weather conditions. You may leave the house expecting no water and rain and be pleasantly surprised with perfect flow and sun. On the other hand if the flows and weather look perfect, bring your cold weather gear and expect the worse. The area and the rivers are always beautiful up there.

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