Castle-like cliffs

Limestone cliffs enclose much of the Smith River's route between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge.

The Montana State Parks Foundation is publishing a weekly showcase of Montana State Parks' 55 properties. 

The Smith River is mostly known as a wonderful 59-mile-long river full of natural beauty with great boating and fishing opportunities. Permits to float the river are highly sought after and distributed through a lottery system similar to hunting licenses for certain big game species in Montana.

But Smith River State Park is so much more than just a float, and you don't need a permit to enjoy some of the great amenities the park has to offer.

If you weren't lucky enough to win a permit during the annual lottery system, you can still enjoy the Smith River by visiting Camp Baker west of White Sulphur Springs, or Eden Bridge 59 miles downriver and just a short drive south of Great Falls.

At Camp Baker you'll find a campground with primitive campsites, latrine facilities, and a busy boat ramp for the lucky folks who won launch permits. After the floating parties have launched for the day Camp Baker becomes quiet for a few hours and visitors will enjoy great access for fishing, birdwatching, and even swimming in the summer months.

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At the other end of the park is Eden Bridge, the normal takeout for Smith River float trips. Eden Bridge is a minimally developed day-use site with latrine facilities, a boat ramp, and access to the river. While there are few amenities at Eden Bridge, it does make for a nice day trip destination from Great Falls where visitors have a chance to spend time on the banks of one of Montana's most iconic waterways.

Looking for activities at Smith River State Park? You can go: boating, with a permit only; fishing; swimming; wildlife viewing; and camping.

Many find Smith River State Park a place of peace because a permit is required to float the Smith River. This permit requirement means visitors can expect to have a quality, multi-day float with relative solitude and excellent trout fishing opportunities. Of course you don't need a permit to access the campground and enjoy all the natural splendor of the area.

The Montana State Parks Foundation helps fund work at parks, for more information log on to www.montanastateparksfoundation.org.

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