Boating Regulations for Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River
Part 3, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and State law establish the regulations for boating in Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. These pertain to the United States side of the Rio Grande and certain other park waters. Some of the regulations are condensed here for your convenience; full regulations may be examined at Park Headquarters.
BOAT PERMITS: A permit is required for day and overnight boating in Big Bend National Park. A permit is also required on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River below the park but is not required for day use. The permit is available free of charge from any Park Ranger or at the park visitor centers.
Gas-powered motorized watercraft will be prohibited on the following sections of the Rio Grande River:
Gas-powered motorized watercraft will be prohibited on the following section of the Rio Grande River except for the month of October:
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES (PFDs): Boats of less than 16 feet in length (including canoes and kayaks) must be equipped with one wearable Coast Guard approved PFD for each person aboard.
Boats 16 feet and longer must be equipped with one wearable Coast Guard approved PFD for each person plus one Type IV (throwable) device.
All craft are required to use Type I, III, or V PFDs in Santa Elena, Mariscal, and the Lower Canyons. PFDs must be worn in Class II or greater whitewater.
BOAT NUMBERS AND REGISTRATION: All motorboats must be numbered and have a certificate of number in full force and effect. Numbers shall be three inches in height or greater, and be placed on each side of the bow along with a validation decal.
WATER-SKIING: Water-skiing, or the towing of persons by motorized vessels, is prohibited.
ACCIDENTS: All accidents involving an injury or with property damage of $100 or more shall be reported to the superintendent within 24 hours.
Did You Know?
Carter Peak (5,479'/1,670m), in the middle of the Window, is named for Amon Carter. Carter was instrumental in the movement to establish Big Bend as a national park. Through his Fort Worth newspaper the general public learned of the scenic qualities of the Big Bend.