On the River

Dock Expansion Completed

May 2021: Our new expanded dock is three times as large and allows easier access to boating and fishing for everyone. Enjoy!

Saturday Free Boating ON HOLD due to COVID-19

Our popular Saturday Free Boating is ON HOLD for the 2021 season, while we recruit new volunteers, await vaccinations for our high school interns, and make sure everyone has proper training. Learn more.

Bartram’s Garden is a place where people of all ages can access the Lower Schuylkill River—the quiet eight-mile stretch of tidal river from the Fairmount Dam at the Art Museum to the Delaware River confluence—for boating, fishing, and exploring.

Our boating and fishing programs include:

  • Denkyem River Guardians: Denkyem River Guardians is a paid high school internship where students develop an understanding of their own relationship to water—how it impacts them, and how they impact it. Denkyem is the ancient Adinkra symbol for crocodile, representing the adaptability and cleverness of the crocodile’s ability to live in the water yet still breathe air. We are not currently accepting applications for this internship. For more information about all the Garden’s youth programs, click here.
  • Water Quality Monitoring: Since 2018, staff, high schoolers in our Denkyem River Guardians program, and Community Boathouse volunteers have been working together to test the water in the tidal Schuylkill River in order to learn about the river and keep visitors safe. For information about how to get involved in community river science, contact Chloe Wang.
  • Click here to watch a June 2021 webinar presented by staff and youth leaders with our partner River Network about this work.

    Click here for a written overview of this program.

  • Launch Your Own Boat: The Schuylkill River is a public waterway and our dock is a public dock, so no launch permit is needed. Non-motorized boats only. Our newly expanded dock features three ADA launches. There is no vehicle access; you must carry in your boat. If you have a disability that requires vehicle access, please contact Danielle at 215-729-5281 ext 113 or danielle@bartramsgarden.org. See this detailed map for access points and parking info.
  • Become a Community Boathouse Volunteer: Help us run our boating and fishing programs. Volunteers are required to attend training and contribute 20 hours a season. In exchange they have access to our fleet of kayaks for their own personal use. If interested, email Danielle Redden.
  • Fishing Equipment Loaner Program: Rods and tackle are available to borrow, free of charge, from the Welcome Center at Bartram’s Garden (open Mon-Sat 9am-4pm). Equipment may be borrowed for up to a week at a time.
  • Live Bait Vending Machine: Live worms are available for purchase from our cash-only vending machine located in the Welcome Center Courtyard.
  • Wednesday Free Fishing: Every Wednesday (weather permitting) from 4:30pm – 7:30pm we provide free rods, tackle, bait and basic instruction. First come, first served as supplies are limited. You may bring your own rod. No fishing license or experience necessary; great for beginner anglers.
  • Saturday Free Boating: *On HOLD until further notice* Every Saturday (weather & river conditions permitting), the public can paddle or row on the river in a kayak or rowboat. No registration or experience required.
  • FAQ: Answers to all your questions about boating at Bartram’s Garden! Click here.