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Old 06-19-2014   #1
denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 62
Smith River camps, any beta?

I will be going down the Smith in a few weeks. Was wondering if anyone had any good info on which camps are primo. Info that would be good to know is which camps are best for fly fishing, scenery (figure thats going to be good every where), and day hikes. or if there is anything else cool at a specific camp like hot spring or cave or whatever.


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Old 06-19-2014   #2
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
Note, there are at least two 'Smith Rivers'. Assuming you refer to the Montana one, I tried to scope out camps on a trip last year. My conclusion is that ALL of them are great. All had good fishing, nice beaches and scenery! I didn't see a single one that wouldn't have made a great overnight. A wealth of good choices.

The one exception is that there is one camp site that does not have a pit toilet. If you get that one you are required to carry a groover for the whole trip. Camp sites are assigned on a first come first selected basis the morning of the launch. There is a sign up sheet at the rangers office. In the morning of the launch groups are allowed to select camp sites starting at opening time (8:00 AM?) based on your sign up order. If you are last on the list your group probably gets to carry groovers.

There are some camp sights last year that had bear problems, the rangers were on top of it but it limited some choices.

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Old 06-19-2014   #3
mtrafter's Avatar
bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 152
It's true they are all great lol,hopefully you have enough water I've been down with low water before though and it isn't too bad a couple quick drags through some spots is well worth it,scotty allen, canyon depth and trout creek are some of my favorites
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Old 06-19-2014   #4
denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 62
Smith river, mt

Thanks for the replies, and yes, smith river Montana. Are layover days done on this stretch, or at low water, could it be problematic to have to do a longer day
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Old 06-19-2014   #5
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bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 152
Layover day shouldn't effect you, ive been down at below minimum Flows And still spent the same amount of time basicly, last day is typicaly the longest river mile day for most about 15 miles And private ranchland so no more camps
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Old 06-19-2014   #6
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
I rowed a drift boat on the Smith last year right at the end of run off. Water can drop quickly and I'm pretty sure If I had launched just a day or so later I would have had some trouble.

The biggest concern were river wide gravel bars with 6" or less water in them. The only way across is to drag the boats. Fortunately there was a lot of rain right before our launch and I was able to man handle the boat by myself. I little less water I would have had problems.

There was a group of boy scouts on the river in homemade plywood canoes. They made it look easy, when it got skinny they just hopped out and guided the boats through by hand.

The is such a great float it's worth it even at low water. This year look like a good snow pack, so you might be fine. Keep an eye on the gauges and if you run out of water you can always look into a canoe rental and pack light.
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Old 06-19-2014   #7
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 8
My favorite Smith camps include:

Middle or. Lower Indian Springs
Rock Garden
Rock Creek
Upper or Middle Cow Coulee
Middle or Lower Sunset Cliffs
Any of the Trout Creeks
Upper Parker Flat
Parker #1 and 2
Paradise Bend
Middle or Lower Ridgetop
Lower Givens
Upper Rattlesnake

Just got off a couple of weeks ago and going again on July 5. We did a layover at Cow Coulee and will probably do it again in July. Have a great trip!
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Old 06-20-2014   #8's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 498
If you have never done the smith before when you arrive to sign up look at the camp site board and see what the groups launching a few days before you signed up for. The ones with one time sign up avoid if possible, the ones taken every day try for. Make sure you have at 2 or more choices picked out for each night unless you are the first to have signed in. I would avoid lower Scotty Allen's (lots of goose poop), Sheep wagon, Lower cow coulee, Deep creek, Black butte and Ridge top. All the rest are really nice in my opinion.
You can take just enough water for first day and fill up at Indian springs (great water). is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-20-2014   #9
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Lewistown, middle of MT
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 222
My favorites are Indian Springs, Sunset Cliffs, Canyon Depth, and Rattlesnake. They are all nice and have their own character. The rangers will help you with selections based on what's available and your mileage. They did have bear problems when we went down and had quite a few closed off for that.
If you lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known. Winnie the Pooh
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Old 06-21-2014   #10
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 95
We just stayed at Rock Creek, long hike to the latrine, worth the hike.
Then at lower Sunset cliffs, all sunsets are good.
Upper Table Rock. Challenged kids to kayak across and climb up to table rock, 4 min 13 sec.
Lower Givens Gulch. Huge campground with spots right by the water, or up in the trees.

We were first on the list so these were all our choices.
Have at least one person show up one day early so that you meet the ranger for sign-up on the day before your launch to get 1st of second in line.

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