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Smith River - California

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Smith River & the Del Norte Coast

The eighteen miles of highway between Crescent City and the Oregon state line provide scenic highlights and more good fishing opportunities. However, before leaving Crescent City, you may wish to explore lakes Earl and Talawa, which are just north of town via Northcrest Drive.

These landlocked lagoons are prime stopping places for more than 250 species of birds using the Pacific Flyway. The park includes 2,500 acres of ponds, dunes and marshes. Kellogg Beach is just north of the marsh area with more impressive dunes.

The tiny village of Smith River is 13 miles south of the Oregon border, where the Smith meets the Pacific. The flat riverlands brought farmers to the valley in the mid-1800s. It's the Easter Lily "capital of the world" with blooms covering the farms in July. Residents celebrate the lily with an "Easter in July Festival" each second weekend in July. The Arcata Lumber Company -- the major redwood firm in the region -- has its tree nursery in the village.

The Smith is famous for its steelhead and salmon and is the last completely undammed river in California. The local chamber of commerce calls it the "Crown Jewel" of the state's scenic rivers, and they're probably right. The Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery is the only hatchery in the United States operated by a non-profit society. It's next to the post office on Fred Haight Drive and is open to the public for tours, Monday through Saturday.

North Bank Road, heading northeast from Smith River, is a scenic backroad drive to Grants Pass, Oregon. This is a favorite winter fishing area for salmon and steelhead. Ruby Van Deventer County Park features picnicking, fishing, river-kayaking and float trips during summer months.

Pelican Beach -- just south of the Oregon line -- is your final place to soak up the often-elusive Northern California sun before leaving the state. The beach offers good walks and beachcombing.

Where to Stay

The popularity of fishing here is responsible for several outstanding resorts. Ship Ashore Resort (707-487-3141) is a Best Western motel with 50 units, hot tubs, a penthouse and several units with kitchens. The motel includes a restaurant and lounge. The resort holds two salmon derbies each year with proceeds going to the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery. The resort also operates an RV park.

Pelican Beach Motel (707-487-7661) on Hwy. 101, has ocean views. A restaurant and cocktail lounge are right on the beach. The Sea Scape Motel (707-487-7333) is also beach-side, on Hwy. 101 with kitchen units. Salmon Harbor Resort is an RV park with river-front sites, boat launch and dock plus other facilities.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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