The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

RBD 761.5-757 Dean Island

Visit Google Maps while reading about Dean Island:


Note: This google map depicts Dean Island during low water.  You can see the back channel is open, as well as the inlet reachable through the bottom of the island.  The gravel bar is visible and the sand extends unbroken to bottom end.


Multi-layered Dean Island is the best camping for canoeists and kayakers in this area.  Dean Island boasts giant gravel bars, giant sandbars, extensive forests, wetlands, and spectacular back channels to explore.   The top end gravel bar at low water ascends downstream into a giant sandbar.  The very bottom end rises to a willow-capped bluff.  The back channel open in all but the lowest of waters.   If you are planning a stop in Memphis, you are now within easy striking distance of one day’s paddle (20-25 miles downstream depending on where you plan on pulling out).  Unless you need to reach the city sooner, pull off and camp at Dean Island.  There are other choices further on (notable Densford, Hickman and Loosahatchie), but each have their drawbacks and each brings you closer to city lights and city noises.  Dean Island on the other hand promises good protected camping at all water levels up to flood stage.  You can always find the protection of low willow vegetation when you need to get out of the wind, and there is always plenty of driftwood about for your campfire.  Furthermore you’ll find interesting sandy inlets full of waders and fish, turtles galore, and endless locations for good swimming.  Cell service is sketchy here, and you see nothing but more water, woods and sand.  There is no sign of the biggest city south of St. Louis.  That is, until after dark.  The sky glows an ethereal orange to the south and a long line of FedEx jets makes their arrival overhead one after another, all night long, the world’s precious goods and packages being ferried by the modern version of camel caravans.


At low water the top end of Dean Island stretches out unbroken two to three miles with no protection, and is not good camping (no protection, no privacy) but indeed excellent fossil finding and rock-hounding.  The presence of coal reminds us of the 1913 Sprague disaster (see Island 30 for description).  As you paddle down the length of the island the sandbar rises steadily to a high sandy willow-topped ridge bottom end, which ends abruptly falling into the river channel below.  This is where you’ll find your best campsites.  The choices are endless at low water along the mile-long southeast-facing shore, as the river rises the choices narrow.  But even at high water bank full Dean Island still has plenty of dry sand.  If one campsite doesn’t look good keep going on to the next.  Several shallow inlets bisect the sandy ridge, and then a large back channel, and then a low lands filled with often flooded forests. 


At high water a middle channel opens up which paddlers coming downstream around Island 35 can easily make passage on through and make a landing at Dean Island Lower, or continue on downstream towards Memphis.  Low water campsites can be found throughout this middle sandbar region RBD 758.  The last possible choice for camping is another high sandy ridge RBD 756.2 which in recent years has become overgrown with clumps of poison ivy (but still affords limited campsites), and might harbor copperhead snakes.  Until the next high water anyway!  Several years ago a patch of watermelons was found thriving at this spot which myself and several kayakers enjoyed several of.  The next year these watermelons were nowhere to be found, nor the next.  Such are the migrations of plants made mobile by the movements of the big river.

Leave A Comment

Middle Mississippi & Bluegrass Hills / Bootheel 195-0, 954-850 ST. LOUIS TO CARUTHERSVILLE
Chickasaw Bluffs 850 – 737 CARUTHERSVILLE TO MEMPHIS
Caruthersville to Osceola
850 – 737 LBD Options for Paddlers in the Caruthersville Stretch
Above Caruthersville  
Below Caruthersville  
850 RBD Caruthersville Harbor Boat Ramp (1/2 Mile Up Harbor)
849 RBD Mouth of the Carutherville Harbor
849 RBD Trinity Barge Fabrication Plant
847 RBD Blaker Towhead
846.5 Caruthersville
846 RBD Isle of Capri/Lady Luck Casino and Casino Inn Suites
845 – 840 LBD Caruthersville – Linwood Bend
850 RBD – 840 LBD Day Trip: Caruthersville to Booth’s Point
840 LBD Linwood Bend Boat Ramp
839 Caruthersville Bridge
Bridges and Mud: How Deep is the Mississippi Mud  
Several Routes Around Islands 18, 20 and 21  
838 – 835 LBD Island 18 Towhead
829 – 832 RBD Island 20 Dikes and Towhead
823 – 829 LBD Island 21
Routes for the Paddler Around Tamm/Barfield Bends  
820 – 815 RBD Wright’s Point – Tamm Bend
819.3 LBD Mouth of the Obion River
Moss Island WMA  
817.7 LBD Tamm’s Landing and Ed Jones Boat Ramp
817.7 – 801.8 LBD Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge
No Levee?  
814 LBD Nebraska Landing
815 – 805 LBD Barfield Bend
809.3 RBD Barfield Boat Ramp
806 RBD Tomato Arkansas
805 – 801 RBD Island 25
Paddler’s Options in the Island 30 – Osceola Area  
800 – 796.5 RBD Island 26 and Forked Deer Island 27
803 – 787 RBD Ashport-Keyes Gold Dust
796 – 791 RBD Ashport Gold Dust Dikes
797 LBD Shoaf Landing
797 LBD Lower Forked Deer River
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
793 – 785 RBD Island 30
796 LBD Ashport-Keyes Boat Ramp
Neark (Jacksonville) Landing  
786.5 LBD Back Channel Island 30
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
Osceola to Shelby Forest
785 RBD Osceola Arkansas
783.5 RBD Sans Souci Boat Ramp
782 LBD Driver Island
779.8 LBD Old Mouth of the Forked Deer
779 – 778 LBD First Chickasaw Bluff
Alternate Paddler’s Route Around Hatchie River & 2nd Chickasaw Bluff  
778 – 773 RBD Sunrise Towhead – Island 34
777 – 773.5 LBD Hatchie Towhead
773.5 LBD Mouth of the Hatchie River
773.5 LBD Lower Hatchie National Wildlife Refugee
771 – 772 LBD Angelo Towhead
771 LBD Randolph Landing
771 – 769 LBD The Second Chickasaw Bluff (Richardson Bluff)
768.9 LBD Richardson’s Landing
768 LBD Randolph’s Landing/Duvall’s Boat Ramp
766 – 763 LBD Below Richardson’s Landing Dikes and Bar
Dyess Arkansas, Birthplace of Johnny Cash’s Five Feet High and Rising  
Five Feet High and Rising  
767.6 – 761.5 RBD Island 35
767 RBD Island 35 Boat Ramp
Back Channels of Island 35  
767.6 RBD Entrance
761.5 RBD Exit Behind Dean Isand
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
Reading Google Maps  
761.5 – 757 RBD Dean Isand
761.5 – 757 RBD Back Channel of Dean Isand
Third Chickasaw Bluff  
758 – 754 LBD Denseford Bar and Dikes/Hen and Chicks
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Shelby Forest to Memphis
Memphis Gage  
Dikes and Water Levels  
752.7 LBD Shelby Forest Boat Ramp
Hen & Chicks Round Trip  
754 – 745 LBD Meeman Shelby Forest State Park
754 – 747.5 RBD Back Channel of Brandywine Island
Buoys and Dikes  
Paddling Into Memphis: Three Distinct Routes  
749 – 742 LBD Hickman Bar
Picknicking and Camping on Hickman  
746 LBD Upper Hickman
745 LBD Middle Hickman
744 LBD Lower Hickman
743 LBD Below Lower Hickman
740.6 LBD Loosahatchie River
743.5 – 740 LBD Redman Point Bar
Memphis Upper Waswater Treatment Plant  
M.C. Stiles Waterwater Treatment Facility  
739 LBD Conoco Lucy-Woodstock Memphis Chemical Terminal Dock
740.6 LBD Wolf River
738.4 LBD Mud Island Upper Boat Ramp
740 – 737.5 Loosahatchie Bar
737.5 Ferry Crossing to Memphis From the Bottom of Loosahatchie Bar
737 Memphis “M” Bridge (Hernando De Soto Bridge)
736 LBD 4th Chickasaw Bluff: Memphis
736 LBD Memphis Mud Island Harbor
Mud Island Riverpark & Museum  
Memphis Yatch Club Marina & Boat Ramp  
Coast Guard Boat Ramp  
Memphis Conveniences Useful to Paddlers  
Several Challenging Round-trips From Memphis  
The Lossahatchie Redman Figure-Eight  
The Loosahatchie Roundtrip  
Hickman Bar Roundtrip  
Upper Delta 737 – 663 MEMPHIS TO HELENA
Middle Delta 663 – 537 HELENA TO GREENVILLE
Loess Bluffs 437 – 225 VICKSBURG TO BATON ROUGE
Atchafalaya River 159 – 0 SIMMESPORT TO MORGAN CITY
Louisiana Delta 229 – 10 BATON ROUGE TO VENICE
Birdsfoot Delta 10 – 0 VENICE TO GULF OF MEXICO