Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries. New Individual and Family memberships are just $35! Start your membership
Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries. New Individual and Family memberships are just $35! Start your membership
Stone bridge over water with trees in background
Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield

Perkins Island Camping at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Perkins Island is Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary's only camping area that provides a wilderness-type, accessible only by canoe.

Camping is available on Saturdays, May-October, to Mass Audubon members on a fee/permit basis. Permit(s) must be obtained in advance of a planned canoe/camping trip. We welcome individual family member(s) and youth groups, though youth groups must have at least one adult Mass Audubon member present.

In order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere and reduce the human impact upon Perkins Island:

  • Only three camping sites are available.
  • Each site is limited to a maximum of 8 campers. 
  • If a group exceeds 8, a second site/permit is required.

Please Note: There are no shelters or restroom facilities on the island.

Check-In & Check-Out Times

If you are renting a canoe to access the island, you may check in any time after 2:00 pm but before the office closes at 4:30 pm.

You must check-out by 11:00 am on the last morning of your stay.

Camping Permits

Camping permits are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be paid for at the time they are secured.


$60 per campsite / $150 for all 3 sites.

Please Note

  • Permits are not issued to anyone under 18 years of age.
  • Permit fee refunds require 7 days advance notice of cancellation.
  • Permits are not transferable.

Campground Rules

Violation of rules can result in revoking of camping privileges.

  • Pets are not permitted.
  • No cutting of dead or living trees.
  • Due to fire hazard in the pine forest, fires outside of provided pits are forbidden.
  • Alcohol is not permissible.
  • Headset radios only.
  • No firearms or fireworks.
  • Camp only within your assigned site.
  • Be considerate of other campers by keeping the noise level down.
  • Your permit must be with you on site and be presented to a sanctuary patroller upon request.

Getting to the Island

The island is only accessible by canoe. 

Rent a Canoe

Mass Audubon members can rent a canoe for $45 per night (life jackets included). There is a limit of 3 people per canoe and 2 canoes per Mass Audubon member. Use of a canoe beyond the checkout time will be charged at $15 more per hour.

It is approximately a 10-minute walk (1/2 mile) from the parking lot to the canoe landing.

BYO Canoe

Canoes can be put in upstream at River Road behind the Essex County Co-op or via the sanctuary's canoe landing. 

Campers wishing to leave vehicles, canoe trailers, etc. at the sanctuary parking lot overnight may do so. All vehicles parked overnight on sanctuary property are at the owner’s risk.