Camp along the captivating Smith River

Ruby Van Deventer County Park, Photo by Sean and Erica, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Sean and Erica, Flickr Creative Commons

Park Information

HIGHLIGHTS: This 54-acre Del Norte County park is on the emerald-green Smith River, which flows freely and naturally, without a single dam, for its entire length — the only such major river in California. The river supports a gold medal steelhead trout and Chinook salmon fishery and is a premier destination for whitewater kayakers. Without doubt, this is one of the most beautiful places to camp in the state. Great redwoods stand sentinel around the campsites, and the gentle murmur of pure water soothes in the background.

ACTIVITIES: Simply camping at the park is a joy, but there are plenty of other things to do. In the summer, the Smith is low and warm enough to invite swimming. In fall through spring, the campground is a perfect base for fishing and kayaking expeditions. The Smith River corridor is an excellent birding ground, rich in resident songbirds and a welcome rest and foraging area for migrants. For golfers, a 71-par course is nearby.

VISITOR CENTER: None.

CAMPGROUNDS: Eighteen campsites are available.

TRAILS: Unimproved access trails, used by anglers and swimmers, skirt the river.

MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: Anyone who has visited the Smith River to fish, kayak, or simply sit quietly on its banks knows that it is a magic stream, unmatched in its beauty and the clarity and purity of its water. One of the best things to do at Ruby Van Deventer is to walk down to the river in late afternoon, and watch twilight slowly fall over the water. You may see deer coming down to drink, or a steelhead splashing in the riffles.

HIDDEN GEM: Del Norte County is one of the most botanically diverse regions of California, and Ruby Van Deventer, the namesake of the park, spent much of her life cataloguing the wildflowers of the area. Spring and early summer are good times to honor Van Deventer by seeking and identifying the beautiful and rare local plants that grow in the park and neighboring public lands.

FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: The paved parking lot is accessible; the restrooms are not.

DOGS: Allowed on leash.

ENTRANCE FEE: $5 per vehicle.

MORE INFORMATION: Call 707-464-7230.


Trip Ideas from Our Staff and Friends

EAT: Christine Aralia, Land Project Manager, suggests Good Harvest Cafe (external link) in Crescent City for large portions and fresh ingredients.

DON’T MISS: Nearby Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

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