This is my third year in a row to do the smith in the early june time frame. We launch june one this year. Man alive I am a lucky river tripper and have great river buds as far as Smith River is concerned.
We used Smith River Shuttles on all trips.
This year one of the first time trip members wanted to do self shuttle.
I started this thread and got a lot of information. Thanks Buzz members.
Bottom line is Jody and Caroline Cox run Smith River Shuttles Home - Smith River Shuttle | Great Falls, Montana
. I just set up our shuttle with Caroline yesterday and you could not ask for a better more customer oriented person. I know they took great care of our trucks on previous trips and what a bonus to get in your truck and it is washed and clean at the take out.
Caroline told me they give folks the option of taking the long route paved of 160 miles that has a section of 12 miles gravel or short route 70 miles all gravel but for 7 paved miles. There is a small up charge for the long route. Our group has taken the short gravel each year and no problems. This is due to the quality drivers used by Caroline I think. Jody and Caroline run a ranch there on the Smith. This is a family run operation. I think they are in the shuttle business for the long haul and take care of their customers, expecting repeat business.
Bottom line is yup you can do the smith shuttle yourself. After a lot of fact finding on my part, our group choose smith river shuttles and the shorter gravel road option. I have zero knowledge of the other shuttle companies but from personal experience with smith river shuttles have to say they are at the top of customer service of all the shuttle companies I have used over many decades of floating.
Our group decided it was worth the cost to just drive to the put in and use smith river shuttles. Usually the lead driver from smith river shuttles will come by or at least they have on my trips and make sure things are setup before you launch. This gives you time to relax and get on river time. And for us knowing our trucks were parked on the shuttle company lot at the take out is a good thing.
Probably more detail than you want on this, but this is my experience.