Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
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. Reservations are required to camp on Perkins Island.

Camping is available on Saturdays only, May-October, to Mass Audubon members who have made reservations. Reservations must be made in advance of a planned camping trip. All campers must have at least one adult Mass Audubon member present.

To make a reservation and camp at Perkins Island, please call or email Ipswich River.

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

  • Only three (3) 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.
  • There is no water hookup. You must bring all your water and supplies with you.
  • Perkins Island is only accessible by canoe on the Ipswich River. There is no vehicle access.

Check-In & Check-Out Times

Check-In: 2:00 pm

Please be mindful our offices close by 4:00 pm, so please call with questions ahead of time. Campers wishing to leave vehicles at the sanctuary parking lot overnight may do so. 
Mass Audubon and its staff carries no responsibility or liability for damage, loss, or theft to vehicles and trailer. All vehicles parked overnight on Sanctuary property are at the Owner’s risk.

Check-Out: 11:00 am

Trash is carry-in, carry-out. If you have rented a canoe from us, please return your Canoe Keys, Paddles and PFDs to our Visitor Center by 12PM. If you will be late, please call us: (978) 887-9264.

Camping Reservations

  • Camping reservations are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be paid for at the time they are secured.
  • All camping groups must have at least one (1) Adult Mass Audubon member present. 
  • Permits are not issued to anyone under 18 years of age. 
  • To reserve Perkins Island or check availability, please contact us.
  • Full payment must be received to complete reservation.
  • Due to high demand, we cannot hold dates. 
  • Credit card payments are accepted for phone reservations. 
  • Camping fee must be paid at the time of reservation.
  • Camping permits are non-transferable and will be emailed to you.
  • We reserve the right to rent the Island based on Sanctuary and programming availability and needs. 


$65 per campsite / $195 for all 3 sites.

Cancellation Policy

In the event you need to cancel or change your reservation, we request 7 days' notice prior to the reserved check in date. 

If adequate notice is not received, the rental fee will be forfeited, and no refunds will be offered. We will try our best to reschedule your reservation to another date based on availability, there are no guarantees for rescheduling a reservation. 

We reserve the right to cancel any reservation due to severe weather warnings or unexpected issues. A full refund will be issued if this occurs.

Campground Rules

Violation of rules can result in revoking of camping privileges.

  • No pets are allowed on sanctuary property.
  • Alcohol is not permissible.
  • Headset radios only. Please be considerate of other campers by keeping the nose level down.
  • Camp only within your assigned site and be respectful of other campers.
  • Your permit must be with you on site and be presented to sanctuary staff upon request.
  • Please leave all forms of wildlife undisturbed. No fishing.
  • No cutting of live or dead trees.
  • Fires outside of provided pits are forbidden due to fire hazard levels in the pine forest. No fireworks or firearms are allowed. Please take care to extinguish all fires with water, especially during drought conditions.

Getting to the Island

The island is only accessible by canoe. You may rent one of our canoes for ease of access to Perkins Island.

Rent a Canoe

To guarantee your access to Perkins Island, Sanctuary canoes are available for overnight rental for $45/canoe. You’ll need to pick up canoe key, paddles, and personal floatation devices (PFDs) in our Visitor Center by 4:00 pm.

Our canoes are stored a 15-minute walk from Visitor Center at the canoe launch right next to the river. Canoes fit 3 people maximum, though keep in mind you need to fit your gear. Use of a canoe beyond the check-out time may be charged an additional fee.

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

BYO Canoe

If you choose to launch your own Canoe at Rte. 97 Public Launch nearby, parking is very limited, especially on weekends. There is a canoe launch further upstream at River Road behind the Essex County Co-Op.

Launching your own canoe is not permitted at our sanctuary. We strongly advise you to rent one of our canoes for ease of your camping trip.