Planning a Trip

It is your responsibility to be fully prepared before embarking on a river trip.

Proper planning and preparation is the first principle of Leave No Trace. Ask yourself the following questions before getting on the river:

  • Where are you entering and exiting the river?
  • Do you know how long it will take to reach your take-out location?
  • How will you return to your vehicle?
  • Does everyone have a life jacket?
  • Are you familiar with local laws and regulations regarding boating and fishing?
  • Have you checked current weather and river conditions?
  • Do you have supplies to pack out or bury human waste?


The Saco River ecosystem is diverse and beautiful, but also fragile. Visitors can easily cause erosion, trample vegetation, displace wildlife, and pollute waters. While enjoying the Saco River, please follow these seven LEAVE NO TRACE principles:


Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you are visiting; prepare for extreme weather and emergencies; schedule trips to avoid times of high use; visit in small groups; repackage food to minimize waste; use plastic -NOT GLASS- containers for beverages.


Travel on the water and put ashore only at durable sites. -the area along the banks of the river (the riparian zone) is fragile; it is best to put ashore on non-vegetaded beaches, sandbars, or sites below high water line; good campsites are found, not made - altering a site is not necessary.


Dumpsters are available at all access points; do not burn or bury trash - pack it in, pack it out - including trash, litter, leftover food and garbage. Latrines are available at all access points; if facilities are otherwise not available, human waste should be deposited in "catholes" dug 6 to 8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from the water. Carry wash water away from the river, use biodegradable soap, and dispose of in the soil at least 200 feet from shore or other nearby water sources.


Preserve the past; examine, but do not touch, cultural or historical structures or artifacts; leave natural objects (rocks and plants) as you find them; avoid introducing or transporting non native species - clean off watercraft and watercraft trailers away from waterways before and after use.


Fire permits can be obtained for free at Swan's Falls Campground or Quinn's Jockey Cap Country Store in Fryeburg. Campfires can cause lasting and unnecessary impact - use a gas or propane stove for cooking where fires are permitted. No cutting of trees dead or alive! Fire permits required on the Saco River, use established fire areas; keep fires small; put out all campfires completely, then scatter cooled ashes.

NOTE: Fire permits are required and fires are not allowed in the woods under any circumstances.


Treat the river bank with care; do not pick or trample plants or flowers; respect the wildlife - view from a safe distance and never feed.


When on the river, avoid landing on posted and unposted private property, respect other visitors and respect the quality of their experience, be courteous. Please clean up after yourself! It is a privilege to be able to camp along the river and we do not wish to have all land owners post their property because of a few bad apples.

Let nature's sounds prevail - avoid loud voice and noise.

Use the menu above to learn more about camping and paddling along the Upper Saco River. If you have any further questions you can contact us at 207-935-3395, email, or message us on Facebook. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip!