Rules & FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Swan Island?
Swan Island is a state owned wildlife management area with abundant wildlife including migrating waterfowl, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles. It is also the only management area where camping is allowed and programs are provided for visitors. One of the early biologists working there was Stephen E. Powell. After Powell's death in 1971 the area was dedicated as The Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area in his memory.
Where is Swan Island? Is it the same as Swan's Island?
Swan Island (Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area) is located within the Kennebec River at the head of Merrymeeting Bay in Sagadahoc County. It is legally known as Perkins Township and is situated between the towns of Richmond and Dresden. This area is often confused with Swan's Island which is located in the Atlantic Ocean five miles southwest of Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park) and is accessible by auto ferry at Bass Harbor.
Is Swan Island a State Park?
No. Swan Island is a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) operated by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. State Parks are operated by Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. The purpose and management of Swan Island is not the same as state parks. State Park Passes are not accepted to access the island.
What facilities are available on the area?
Adirondack shelters are available to campers. They are 3-sided lean-tos with shingled roofs and a substantial overhang on the open side of the shelter. There is a gravel apron in front of each shelter with a picnic table and fireplace as part of the campsite. Ten campsites are located some distance apart and are arranged along the edge of a grassy field overlooking the river. Water is provided and modern bathroom facilities are available. There is no food or supplies on the island.
How much does it cost to visit the area?
There are no fees to camp or visit Swan Island. Camping is limited to three nights.
Is it necessary to make a reservation for just a short visit?
There are no reservations for visiting the island or camping. Camping sites are first come, first served, and visitors are responsible for carrying out all refuse and trash. Local kayak and canoe rentals are available. See list of options on the “Getting Here” page.
How do I find the area?
The parking area and landing is located on the Kennebec River near the intersection of Routes 24 and 197 in Richmond village. The Swan Island landing is marked with a large sign.
Can we take our vehicle or camper onto Swan Island?
No. A parking area is provided on the Richmond side of the Kennebec River where you may leave your vehicle.
How far is it from the dock on Swan Island to the campground? Is transportation available?
About 1 1/2 miles along the main dirt road.
Can a small private boat or canoe be used during our stay at Swan Island?
Yes. Visitors accessing the island by canoe or kayak can access the campground by paddling ~1.75 miles from the landing to the camp site. Due to tidal fluctuations of 5-7 feet, small boats are not recommended to park at the campground. Docking facilities are for department personnel and are not to be used to store private watercraft.
Is the island large enough so we may explore and see some wildlife?
Yes. Swan Island is 4 miles long with a gravel road and nature trails. There is wildlife over all the area and only limited sections are restricted.
Is swimming allowed?
The only swimming opportunity is in the Kennebec River. Not only are there strong river currents the area is also subject to tidal action. Much progress has been made in cleaning this river and water quality is rated suitable for swimming. However, all swimming is at your own risk.
Can I bring a metal detector to the island?
No. The island is owned and managed by MDIFW and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Collecting or removing items (even those you may consider valueless) is not allowed.
Is it difficult to access the island?
While the voyage to the island from the MDIFW parking area in Richmond is less than 1,000 feet to the landing, it is still 1.5 miles via trail/dirt road to the campground. To access the campground from the parking area via watercraft requires a ~1.75 mile paddle via tidal water. Individuals should access the island at their own risk and are strongly encouraged to CHECK THE TIDES AND WEATHER. For more information, click these links: Tide Chart Weather Report
Navigating tidal waters with tidal currents and variable weather conditions can be extremely hazardous and should only be done by experienced watercraft users. Please remember to ALWAYS wear a life jacket.
If you are not comfortable accessing the island by water, we encourage you to visit one of the other 68 Wildlife Management Areas in Maine, most of which can be accessed by car. Click here to find a WMA near you.
- The use of Swan Island shall be limited to the purposes for which it is being managed and to activities determined by the Department to be compatible with the intended use of the facility. Activities which endanger persons or property are prohibited.
- The removal, molesting, injury or damage of anything natural, physical, prehistorical, or historical within these areas is strictly prohibited.
- Feeding or touching wild animals found on Swan Island is prohibited. For health and safety reasons, visitors are required to put away food securely and leave picnic areas and campsites clean.
- Reservations and Fees: There are no fees for visiting Swan Island.
- Hours: The area will be available for daily use between sunrise and sunset. The camping day is from 1:00 p.m. until 11:00 a.m. Camping shall be limited to 3 consecutive nights unless extended by facility manager. Quiet hours are between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Campsite occupancy and use is limited to:
- A minimum of one (1) adult 18 years of age or older per camping party.
- A family consisting of up to two (2) adults and any number of their children under 18.
- A maximum of six (6) individuals including children, except as set forth in 6b.
- Two tents are allowed only in the immediate vicinity of the assigned shelter.
- Moving picnic table(s) from site to site and using one site by several parties is prohibited.
- Restricted Areas: Little Swan Island, portions of Swan Island and some historic buildings and maintenance areas are restricted areas. Entrance into these areas are by permission only and all visitors to these areas must be accompanied by Department personnel.
- Supervision: All groups composed of minors under 18 years of age, must be accompanied by adult supervisors. A ratio of 1 supervisor for every 8 minors is required.
- Fires: Fires shall be built and used only in places provided or designated for such purposes and shall not be left unattended. Camp stoves are permissible if used in areas designated for fire building.
- Refuse: All visitors and campers must "carry out" all refuse and trash.
- Pets: No dogs or other pets will be allowed on the island. (Exception: seeing-eye dogs)
- Firearms: The use or possession of firearms, fireworks, air arms, or similar weapons within the boundaries of the area, above the high water mark, is prohibited; and the hunting, trapping, removal, molesting, injury or damage to any animal or bird, or anything natural within the boundaries of the area, above the high water mark, is prohibited.
- Fireworks: The use or possession of fireworks and explosives is prohibited. The Department may grant a permit to municipalities for the purpose of a public fireworks display, when the appropriate permits and insurance are presented and a request is made in writing to the Regional Biologist prior to the event.
- Liquor: Intoxicating beverages are prohibited. Disorderly conduct is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, indecent acts, intoxication and coarse language.
- Metal Detectors: Metal Detectors are not allowed to be used on Swan Island, or Little Swan Island.
- Fishing: Island Ponds are restricted to fishing for those less than 16 years of age. All ages may fish the Kennebec River as allowed by law.