Brannan Island State Recreation Area
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Introduction

Visitors to Brannan Island State Recreation Area enjoy one of the best water recreation areas in the world. The park serves as the entrance to an extensive water system with 700 miles of rivers, marshes, and levees that join together to form the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The area is popular for all manner of water activities. Spend a day picnicking and soaking in the sun at the beach, or hit the waves to boat and windsurf. Avid anglers can catch bass, sturgeon, shad, bluegill, and salmon.

Wildlife enthusiasts can observe many species in their natural habitat by visiting the protected wetland marsh at Frank’s Tract. Catch a glimpse of beaver, muskrat, river otter, and mink. Over 76 species of birds call the area home including Swainson’s hawks and sandhill cranes that spend the winter migrating to and breeding in the Delta.

RV campers can enjoy camping options at one of four campgrounds. The Willow and Cottonwood Campgrounds are primitive sites without hookups. The Olympic Loop Campground features 12 sites with water and electric hookups. The Sacramento Group Campground offers six sites with room for 30 people each. All campgrounds provide easy access to restrooms and showers.

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Transportation in Brannan Island State Recreation Area

Driving

Brannan Island State Recreation Area is located in Sacramento County just a few miles south of Rio Vista, California, about 55 minutes outside of Sacramento. It is easily reached by Highway 160, with the park’s entrance directly off the highway.

All park roads are paved and designed to make navigating by RV or with a trailer simple. All campgrounds are arranged in a loop.

Campsites offer parking for a maximum of two vehicles. Cars must remain on pavement and may not extend into the roadway beyond the site’s limit line.

Additional parking can be found near the boat berthing area, with two large parking lots at the boat launch and at the day-use area near the swimming beach.

The maximum speed limit throughout the park is 15 mph, but slower speeds in the campgrounds and near picnic areas are encouraged.

Visitors are welcome to bike in the park on paved roads. Bicyclists under age 18 are required to wear a helmet. If you are biking after dark, your bicycle must have a light.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Brannan Island State Recreation Area

Campsites in Brannan Island State Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Sacramento Group Campground

The Sacramento Group campsite offers a camping area for large groups and families. Six sites each hold up to 30 people. Multiple sites can be reserved in advances for a single organization. The group campground accommodates RVs up to 36 feet long. Campers have access to showers and restrooms. The campground is within walking distance of the group picnic area and beach.

Cottonwood Campground

The Cottonwood Campground is adjacent to the Willow Campground and offers an additional 52 campsites for tents or RV camping. There are no hookups, but campers have access to two relief areas with restrooms and showers. Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Generators can be operated between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Fires rings are provided at each site. Dogs are allowed and must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet. A maximum of eight people and two vehicles are allowed per site.

Willow Campground

This campground features 50 sites for tent or RV camping. These sites do not have access to hookups. Campers can use restrooms and showers at either end of the campground. Generators may be operated between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. with campground quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Fires are permitted in provided fire rings at each site. Gathering wood is prohibited, but firewood is available for sale at the park. Pets are allowed at the campground as long as they remain on leash. A maximum of eight people and two vehicles are allowed per site.

Olympic Loop Campground

The Olympic Loop RV Campground features 12 sites with water and electric hookups. Campers have access to restrooms and showers. The campground is within walking distance of the boat launch and beach areas. There is additional parking near the beach. Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Generators can be operated between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Fires rings are provided at each site, and firewood is for sale in the park.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Brannan Island State Recreation Area

In-Season

Visitor Center

The visitor center at Brannan Island State Recreation Area is open on weekends and can be opened during the week by contacting park staff. The center contains extensive displays on the natural and cultural history of the area. Be sure to check out the interactive map of the bay area and Delta system. Learn about native wildlife and the delicate marsh ecosystem from park rangers. Stop by the gift shop for souvenirs, brochures, and maps.

Boating

If you’re looking for the perfect place to break out your boating skills, Brannan Island State Recreation Area is it. The park features a ten lane boat launch ramp for watercraft of all sizes. Two of the boat slips are ADA accessible. There is also a boat berthing area with public restrooms and showers. A private marina with boat rentals is located along Three Mile Slough. Note that power boats are not allowed in Seven Mile Slough to preserve the beach and swimming areas.

Swimming

Brannan Island State Recreation Area has a reputation as one of the best water recreation areas in the world. In the warm summer months, there’s no better way to experience the water than by jumping in and going for a swim. There are two beaches with designated swim areas. The first is located in the day-use area. The second swim area can be found at Seven Mile Slough. There are no lifeguards on duty, so swim with caution.

Off-Season

Picnicking

A picnic by the water is always an enjoyable activity any time of the year at Brannan Island State Recreation Area. Four family picnic areas with tables and shade ramadas stretch along the beach at Seven and Three Mile Sloughs. The Seven Mile Slough picnic area includes BBQ grills and drinking water with restroom facilities and is near the swim beach. A large grassy area nearby is the perfect site for outdoor games and soaking in the sun.

Wildlife Watching

The park’s extensive system of waterways passes through islands and marshes, making it the perfect habitat for a diverse group of wildlife. The protected wetlands are home to beaver, muskrat, and mink. Birdwatchers will delight in over 76 species of birds including gulls, terns, sandpipers, herons, hawks, and sandhill cranes. Lucky visitors may also see a stray sea lion or two exploring the area from the bay. River otters and turtles can be sighted near the water’s edge.

Fishing

No matter your skill level, fishermen of all ages can find a quiet spot to seek out the catch of the day. The waterways at Brannan Island State Recreation Area are filled with a variety of fish including bass, sturgeon, shad, bluegill, and salmon migrating through the Delta. All anglers age 16 and over are required to carry a valid California fishing license. The fishing pier located on Seven Mile Slough is a favorite spot to set up shop and is ADA accessible.

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