Camp Baker, Smith River State Park
Smith River State Park has one put-in point (Camp Baker) and one take-out point (Eden Bridge) for the entire 59-mile stretch. The river is accessible only by non-motorized watercraft, including; rafts, canoes, kayaks and drift boats. Rowers and paddlers should have at least intermediate level skills. On average, visitors take four days to float the river.
White Sulphur Springs to Camp Baker is 26 miles. Take State Secondary Road 360 (Fort Logan Road) west from White Sulphur Springs 16.6 miles to the Camp Baker turn-off. Follow the directional signs 9.6 miles to Camp Baker. It takes two hours (75 miles) to drive from Camp Baker to Eden Bridge on Millegan Road (State Secondary Road 360). Driving this gravel road should not be attempted during wet conditions. Make sure to lock your vehicles and leave no valuables in your vehicle at Camp Baker or Eden Bridge. Eden Bridge is 28 miles from Great Falls via Ulm and Interstate 15. Great Falls to Camp Baker via White Sulphur Springs is 127 miles.
Since the Smith River flows through a remote canyon, there are some things to keep in mind for this adventure; there are no public services from Camp Baker to Eden Bridge. Floaters must carry their own food, water, safety, camping equipment and a fishing license. It is advisable to bring all the drinking water you will need for the duration of your trip, as there is no drinking water available at the put-in location of Camp Baker. Also, Camp Baker does not have trash dumpsters, but one is available at the Eden Bridge takeout point along with aluminum-recycling bins.
Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, Camp Baker will be closed to overnight camping and floater registration will occur via phone two days in advance of the permit holders’ launch date. River Rangers will call permit holders, in a randomly selected order, between 1:00 and 3:30 pm MDT to complete the registration process, which includes listing party members and number and type of watercraft, choosing boat camps and paying float fees via credit card. Float groups will be expected to arrive at Camp Baker on the day of their scheduled launch date no later than 12:00 pm MDT to receive their copy of the registration form, boat tags, river maps and floater log and to receive the mandatory ranger safety and orientation talk.
Upon arrival on the day of your scheduled launch date, locate an unoccupied area in the grass island between the two boat launches where you can socially distance from other float groups. A river ranger will greet you and deliver your packet of materials which includes a copy of your registration form, boat tags, river maps and a floater log. The ranger will present the mandatory safety and orientation talk at some point prior to your launch.
Please do not occupy the boat ramp(s) until you have received your packet of materials, listened to the ranger safety and orientation talk and are prepared to launch. Prep boats and gear, as much is possible, in the grassy island staging areas. Due to the lack of space to park boats once loaded, please be prepared to shove off ASAP. Launching loaded boats from a trailer is possible at both ramps, but best from the downstream boat ramp. Hand launching boats is best done from the upstream boat ramp. Please do your best to share the ramp(s) and respect other users.
The float is 59 river miles from Camp Baker (put-in) to Eden Bridge (take-out). On average, floaters take four days to float. A minimum of two nights and three full days should be planned for normal water levels, which is 300+ cfs. Factor in probable river flows, distances you wish to cover each day and the type of experience you are seeking.
During the peak season of May 15 through July 15, floaters are limited to a maximum of four nights camping. The four-night limit includes nights spent at private cabins or guest ranches. Layover nights (two or more nights at the same camp) are permitted at mid-canyon boat camps (Two Creek to Upper Parker), however, only one layover night is permitted during the high use season (May 15-July 15).