The spectacular Klamath River is both the second largest and second longest river in California. The river makes its way through over 200 miles both the Cascade and Coast Mountain Ranges offering many recreation opportunities to its visitors. Summer months bring rafters to the area and jet boat rides are offered out of the town of Klamath. The river is renowned for its fishing opportunities of Chinook (King Salmon), coho (Silver Salmon), and steelhead. The river is easily accessible off of Highway 96. Several ramps exist to provide easy launching for your boat.
Under the Klamath Wild and Scenic River designation, the entire Salmon River system with it North and South Forks were designated a Scenic River and Recreational River within the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System in 1981. The watersheds of two great wilderness areas combine to form the Salmon River. The North Fork of the Salmon River begins high up in the Marble Mountains Wilderness while the South Fork of the Salmon finds its origins in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The two forks join forces at a place aptly called Forks of Salmon. Twenty miles further west and the Salmon River empties into the Klamath and continues on to the Pacific Ocean. This area is rich with history and culture of native people and of gold seekers and pioneers.
"Last Chance" Rapid on the Salmon River
In the early 1980’s, the Salmon River was discovered as a premier opportunity for whitewater rafting, offering 14 miles of Class IV and V rapids. Every spring, river enthusiasts flock to the Salmon River to enjoy the annual snowmelt provided whitewater.
The Lower Trinity Ranger District is bisected by State Highway 299, the main travel route in Northwestern California to reach the Northcoast. Willow Creek is Approximately 100 miles west of Redding and 45 miles east of Eureka/Arcata. At one time, a major timber producing area, Willow Creek no longer supports a major manufacturing industry. Willow Creek however, is a recreation destination for sport fishing, including salmon and steelhead, kayakers, and river rafters who heavily use the Main Stem and South Fork of the Trinity River most of the year. The area is also famous for Bigfoot, achieving notoriety through the years as a hub for sightings. Hunting also is a big draw to the area with large deer and bear populations.
The Trinity River's headwaters begin in the rugged Trinity Alps, making it's way through the wilderness, settling into deep valleys, transitioning to spacious glides and inviting beaches until finally meeting up with the mighty Klamath River at Weitchpec.
The natural beauty has been one of the most popular sights for north coast river recreation. Scenic Highway 299 makes easy access to many points of interest. In the warm spring and summer months, inner tubers and rafters enjoy rides along the river. The river is legendary for its salmon and steelhead fishing opportunities. Access provides fishing opportunities by means of drift boat or walk-in riverside spots.
Recreational activities abound in the Smith River NRA. The beautiful Smith River offers fishing for steelhead, trout, and salmon. During the summer months, the pure, clean waters of the Smith River are perfect for swimming, rafting, or fishing and the forested mountainsides present occasions for hiking, bird watching, wildflower walks, or perhaps just lounging in the sun.
Winter temperatures drop into the 40s and 50s, with an occasional snow storm. The rainy season normally runs from October through April with an average annual rainfall of 92.55 inches. Summers are dry with highs in the 80-100 degree range. Contact the National Recreation Area Headquarters at the Gasquet Ranger Station for current weather conditions.
The Smith is the largest wild and scenic river in the United States that has been left undamed. Located in Del Norte County, the northern most water system of the state makes its way through the 305,337-acre spread of the Smith River National Recreation Area. The NRA affords a myriad of recreational opportunities including fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking and canoeing. The area averages about 100 inches of rain per year, which explains the powerful flows of the river. These flows scour away and expose the unique features of the serpentine bedrock which embraces the mighty Smith's wild waters. The free-flowing river has been known to rise or fall as much as six feet in a day and is admired for its exquisite emerald green color. The river system maintains almost 200 miles of hospitable salmon and steelhead habitat that offer an abundance of fishing opportunities. Known for its Chinook salmon (King Salmon), steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout runs, the river boasts the state record for the largest steelhead caught weighing in at whopping 27 lbs. 4 oz. and the second largest Chinook at 86 lbs.