Directions: Go north on Highway 101 9.9 miles past bridge over Smith River and take the first left onto Fred Haight Drive. Go 0.7 mile, turn left into public boat launch parking area. Road continues 3.0 mile  to town of Smith River.

Description: At the boat launch picnic area overlooking the river, scan opposite bank for occasional Black-crowned Night Heron resting in the riverside vegetation.


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County of Del Norte

Common Merganser and Mallard frequent the moving current. In spring, flocks of Aleutian Cackling Geese travel back and forth overhead. Fred Haight Drive is a county road that takes you through privately owned agricultural fields and dairy farmlands in the Smith River bottoms. These pasturelands attract farmland birds, such as large fall to spring blackbird flocks, migrating kingbirds on the fence wires, and swallows everywhere. Seasonal migrants vary from spring to winter. Rowdy Creek hosts Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat along its riparian edge. Please be respectful of private property and driveways. This site is best viewed from your vehicle only; use safe pullouts along the county roadside. PLEASE NOTE: The narrow county road is recommended  for “birding by vehicle” only. Please travel safely, respect traffic flow, and avoid blocking any private driveways.

smith river bottoms map

Points and Places of Interest:
Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery
In operation since 1970, the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery—located at 255 North Fred Haight Dive and next to the post office—exists in order to increase and perpetuate the native runs of salmon in the Smith River. The Smith is longest free-flowing wild and scenic river in the state of California and one of the nation’s cleanest and clearest. It is famous for its world-class sport fishery that boasts large Chinook (up to 65 pounds) and Steelhead (up to 25 pounds) salmon.

Founded by the local Kiwanis Club of Smith River, the Rowdy Creek Hatchery is the first privately-owned fish hatchery to operate in the state of California. It runs almost exclusively on donations and grants.  Several fish derbies are held annually to help raise funds for the hatchery, which operates year round. Free tours are available weekdays to the public.

Easter Lily Capital of the World
Along a few miles of the Pacific Coast at the Oregon and California border lies a unique area where the ideal combination of climate, soil, water, and humans has developed a product of deep meaning, beauty and tradition—the Easter Lily. Today over 95 percent of all bulbs grown for the potted Easter Lily market are produced by less than a dozen farms in this narrow coastal region. The rich soil and temperate climate have made Smith River the Easter Lily Capital of the World. It is also home to many of Del Norte County’s founding pioneer families. Each year, over 11 million Easter Lily bulbs are field grown, harvested in the fall, packed, and shipped to commercial greenhouses in the United States and Canada. They are then forced under controlled conditions to bloom for the Easter holiday. The lily crop harvest is celebrated annually in July at the Smith River Festival.


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