“What are the six rivers?” Almost every trip guests asks us this question, so since inquiring minds want to know, so here is the scoop! The six rivers are the Smith River, the Klamath River, the Trinity River, the Mad River, the Van Duzen River and the Eel River.
The Smith River is one of the only completely undammed river systems in California. It has the some of the most pristine river quality and wildlife habitat anywhere including redwood and serpentine ecosystems…..and look at that color! The Smith River is the location of some world class winter/spring whitewater runs including the North Fork (wilderness class III-IV), the Middle Fork (roadside class III with one IV), the South Fork (scenic class III+), and the Middle Fork Gorge (class IV+) to mention a few.
The Klamath River is the biggest drainage in our part of the state. You cannot visit the Klamath without seeing bald eagles and osprey around every bend. While the rafting sections of the Lower Klamath River are mostly roadside, it has a decidedly wilderness feel to it. This is the place for warmer waters, scenic floats, with some good class II-III rapids thrown in the mix, making for a great family friendly multiday summer run.
The Trinity River is our classic California whitewater playground. This river runs years round, and provides everything from scenic mellow wildlife floats, splashy family friendly rapids, to expert only class V. The wild and scenic designation means more wildlife than people, perfect swimming and fishing holes, and crystal clear waters. Running along CA highway 299 between Willow Creek and Douglas City, this river is easily accessable and the most popular rafting and camping designation in our part of Northern California.
The Mad River flows from Ruth Lake and flows to the Pacific Ocean on the north side of Arcata. The Mad River is a popular swimming spot for locals in the summer, and popular for steelhead fishing in the winter/spring. The Mad River is home to a steelhead hatchery, providing an angular’s dream. The Mad River is only boatable during the winter and spring and is dependent on rains for adequate flows.
The Van Duzen River runs along CA highway 36, through the redwoods and Grizzly Creek State Park, and into the Eel on the coast. The Van Duzen County Park and campgroud (know locally as “Swimmer’s Delight”) is a popular camping and swimming location in the summer time. The Van Duzen has a few whitewater sections, but they only run in the winter after heavy rains.
The Eel River is unusual in that it flows south to south. Driving north on the 101 from Mendocino County to Humboldt County you will be following the Eel along it’s journey to the sea! The Eel has a classic winter/spring 46 mile multiday wilderness run (Dos Rios to Alderpoint – Class III) where you float alongside historic old railway tracks and explore deserted river beaches. Many different whitewater sections exist along the various parts of the Eel.