Ranger-led Kayak Tours

Ranger-led Kayak Tours



A Wild and Scenic Opportunity

For a limited time in summer, Redwood National and State Parks presents ranger-led kayak tours of the Smith River—a crown jewel of the National Wild & Scenic River System and the largest free-flowing river system in California. Led by experienced park rangers, visitors will explore a variety of topics, including the unique geology of the Smith River watershed and how it contributes to the growth of the world’s largest trees, all while paddling pristine waters and enjoying unparalleled scenery.


Smith River Kayak Tours

As summer conditions allow, Smith River Kayak Tours will begin at 12 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at the Hiouchi Visitor Center in Redwood National and State Parks. Park rangers will provide a brief orientation, including safety information and essential paddling skills. After being fitted for lifejackets and helmets, participants then shuttle to the Forks put-in and boat launch in the Smith River National Recreation Area (see important logistics requirements below).

Based on age, weight, and experience, participants will be paired in tandem inflatable kayaks and paddle approximately 3 miles through Class I-II whitewater that includes moving flatwater, riffles, and small rapids. Along the way, rangers will interpret geology, wildlife, and the ancient coast redwood forest from an incredible vantage point—the surface of the Smith River. A break for lunch (not included—please bring your own lunch or snacks) will also be provided as conditions allow.

Tours typically last about ~3 hours and take-out at the Jedediah Smith Day Use Area or a nearby alternative location in the Jedediah Smith Campground (see below). From there, paddlers will return on foot to the Hiouchi Visitor Center, a 1/2-mile walk on paved terrain which includes crossing U.S. 199.

Important logistics info. for Smith River Kayak Tours: Shuttle service from Hiouchi Visitor Center to the Forks put-in is not provided. While participants may arrange their own carpool or shuttle, most paddlers use local transportation services (currently $2/person, one-way—drivers may not be able to make change).

Lunch and Snacks: As conditions allow, kayak guides will make a stop for lunch during the tour. Participants wishing to bring snacks or lunch should pack their own food—it will not be provided. A group dry sack will be available to transport food items.

Parking at the Jedediah Smith Day Use Area: Vehicles entering Jedediah Smith Day Use Area must pay an $8 day use fee. Visitors who remain in the day use area before or after scheduled kayak tour times will be required to pay the day use fee.


Requirements for Participation

To ensure diverse participation, groups larger than four individuals cannot be accommodated. Participants must be at least 10 years old and able to swim in moving water. Each individual between ages 10-17 must be accompanied by an adult parent/guardian each and can only occupy a kayak in tandem with an adult 18 years old or older. Participants must weigh no less than 50 lbs (23 kg) and no more than 220 lbs (100 kg).

Lifejackets and helmets will be provided and must be worn at all times. Personally owned paddling gear will not be allowed.

Each participant (or parent/guardian) must read and sign a Visitor's Acknoledgement of Risk.

Attendance at the presentation of basic safety information and essential paddling skills at the start of each tour is also required for continued participation. Don't be late!

Is it really free? Yes! We do, however, gratefully accept donations to train staff, maintain equipment, and continue tours in the future. Also, be sure to note important logistics information above, including possible bus fare and day use fees.


How To Sign-Up

For a safe and enjoyable experience, only a limited number of participants can be accommodated on each tour. Space is available on a first come-first served basis, only; reservations by telephone, email, or fax will not be accepted.

Visitors can sign-up no sooner than one week before a scheduled tour (e.g., as early as Monday for a tour scheduled the following Monday) and must do so, in person, at the Hiouchi Visitor Center (1 mile west of Hiouchi, Calif. on U.S. 199, open 9 am–5 pm daily).

Programs may be cancelled at any time for safety.


What To Expect

Expect to have fun, of course! But also expect to get wet! Summer conditions on the Smith River may change quickly, and vary from very warm to quite chilly. Please dress accordingly; we recommend clothing that insulates when wet and dries quickly, regardless of conditions.Proper footwear should strap firmyl to your feet—don't wear flip-flops!

You may fall in the river and lose cameras, cell phones, jewelry, etc. We recommend you not bring these items, or protect them in waterproof containers. Consider securing glasses with a retaining strap or string.

Last updated: July 7, 2022

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1111 Second Street
Crescent City, CA 95531


707 464-6101

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