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The best overall single-day whitewater trip in the US

Quick Details

Classic Riverside lunch, professional guide service, river gear
Deluxe Cabin bed, 2 hot meals, riverside lunch, professional guide service, river gear



Despite lying in the middle of a temperate rainforest, the red- and tan-rock canyons of the North Fork Smith make you feel like you’ve been transported to the desert, or perhaps another planet for the more imaginative. The water on this river can become so clear that many have described it as looking like you’re floating on air.

The high water clarity and desert-like vegetation of the North Fork come from the unique geology, which offers rafters amazing canyon scenery, rare carnivorous plants and dozens of waterfalls, including one you can paddle under to reach ‘the grotto.’

On top of the first-class scenery, several Class IV rapids and many more Class II and III rapids make the North Fork Smith an exciting and unforgettable trip. It is also one of the most remote canyons that you can see in a one-day rafting trip in the country, winding through miles of wilderness far from roads or trails. Participants must be confident swimmers and in good athletic condition due to the physical requirements of this trip.

The takeout for the North Fork is in Gasquet, Calif., a small hamlet 30 minutes from Crescent City, Calif. and only a half-day’s drive from the Bay Area and Portland. A slow and scenic 1.5 hour shuttle on a winding gravel road up and over the mountains is required to reach the put-in.

Due to the long shuttle and far distance from major population centers, we recommend our North Fork Deluxe option, which begins with a night in a historic, off-the-grid cabin on the North Fork Smith River and adjacent to the trip put-in spot. Cozy up by the wood stove while our guides cook a delicious dinner at the cabin. We’ll start the morning with a hot breakfast before getting on the river, arriving back at your vehicle in Gasquet by early afternoon.