Smith River – An unforgettable trip
Experience a multi-day float trip on the Smith River if you are lucky enough to draw a permit in the annual lottery. Noted for its spectacular scenery and renowned trout fishing, the Smith River is unique with only one public put-in and take-out site for the entire 59-miles.
Smith River State Park offers gorgeous scenery in a remote setting. Renowned trout fishing is just one of the recreational opportunities that make a float trip on the 59-mile Smith River an unforgettable experience.
Smith River State Park has one put-in point (Camp Baker) and one take-out point (Eden Bridge) for the entire 59-mile stretch. The river is accessible only by non-motorized watercraft, including; rafts, canoes, kayaks and drift boats. Rowers and paddlers should have at least intermediate level skills. On average, visitors take four days to float the River.
The Smith River is so popular that a permit is required to float it. Up to 15 people can float with one permit. Permit applications are available the first week of January each year with a lottery drawing conducted in late February. The permit process allows visitors a quality, multi-day float in relative solitude.
From May 15 – July 15 floaters can stay on the river a maximum of four nights only.
To help preserve the unique quality of the Smith River canyon, overnight camping must take place at designated boat camps.
Since the Smith River flows through a remote canyon, there are some things to keep in mind for this adventure; there are no public services from Camp Baker to Eden Bridge. Floaters must carry their own food, water, safety, camping equipment and a fishing license. It is advisable to bring all the drinking water you will need for the duration of your trip, as there is no drinking water available at the put-in location of Camp Baker. Also, Camp Baker does not have trash dumpsters, but one is available at the Eden Bridge takeout point along with new aluminum-recycling bins.
If you aren’t awarded a permit, you still have a chance to float the Smith River by calling the Smith River Reservation Line at (406) 454-5861 beginning in mid-March (between 8am and Noon, Monday through Friday) to request any remaining launch dates or cancelled permits. You can also book a trip with one of the eight approved Smith River outfitters listed on http://stateparks.mt.gov/smith-river
Permit applications are available in January of each year, here, online at stateparks.mt.gov or by walk-in at FWP Headquarters in Helena or FWP Regional Offices. Permit results are posted online in February through FWP’s Automated Licensing System.
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