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The Smith River drains the little-known Castle Mountains in Central Montana and flows north for more than 100 miles to its terminus at the Missouri River near Ulm.

Fifty-nine miles of the Smith flows through the limestone canyon split by the Little Belt and Big Belt Mountains and is managed by the State of Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as a permit-only float section. The river is primitive, with no other public access, between the put-in at Camp Baker and takeout at Eden Bridge. As such, because there is vehicle access at the beginning and end of this multi-day section, we consider it a "sidecountry" rather than a "backcountry" (foot-accessed) river. However, this designation is not to be looked over - the Smith River has all the right ingredients for a multi-day adventure in a wild place.

The primitive character of this float is reinforced by a mix of towering limestone cliffs, forested hill country, and open prairie. Diverse scenery combined with active and healthy populations of big game, raptors, and migratory waterfowl offer constant stimulation for the nature-lover!

This article features photos and gear notes from an 8-person group of packrafters who floated the river during the fall of 2014.


  • About the Smith River
  • Packrafting the Smith River
  • About Our Trip
  • The Journals
  • Photo Essay
  • Gear List

# WORDS: 1580
# PHOTOS: 14

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