Bring Your Own Boat

Bringing your own boat to Bighorn Canyon? Here are a few things you should know.

Sail Boat in Bighorn Lake
Sail Boat in Bighorn Lake.

NPS, Jennifer Prentiss


All boats entering the water in Wyoming are required to have a valid Aquatic and Invasive Species (AIS) decal. You can purchase a decal at the Conco Gas Station across the street from the visitor center in Lovell, WY.


All boats (motorized or non-motarized) should be inspected for Aquatic and Invasive Species. There are inspection points in both the Lovell, WY district and the Fort Smith, MT district. Check the state rules, listed infected waters, and inspections sites prior to travel.
Montana AIS
Wyoming AIS


There are several places to launch within Bighorn Canyon (please see boating map). It is recommended that you check the minimum launch levels prior to arrival. Check current lake levels as they change daily.

Personal Water Craft (PWC)

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area does allow Personal Water Craft (PWC) on Bighorn Lake with some exceptions. PWC are not allowed in the following areas:

  • In Bighorn Lake and shoreline south of the area known as The South Narrows. Personal watercraft users are required to stay north of the boundary delineated by park installed buoys.
  • Crooked Creek Bay
  • In the gated area south of Yellowtail Dam’s west side to spillway entrance works and Bighorn River from Yellowtail Dam to cable 3,500 feet north.
  • At Afterbay Dam from fenced areas on west side of dam up to the dam.
  • In Afterbay Lake, the area between dam intake works and buoy/cable line 100 feet west.
  • At Government docks as posted.
  • At the Ok-A-Beh gas dock, except for customers.
  • From Yellowtail Dam upstream to the log boom.
  • There are boating registers located at Ok-A-Beh, Barry’s Landing, and Horseshoe Bend. For your boating safety, please sign the register prior to departure and upon your return. Driftwood and rock outcroppings can be hazards on Bighorn Lake. Please use caution and enjoy safe boating on Bighorn Lake.


A special permit is not required to operate on Bighorn Lake; however, boats must display valid registrations for the state in which they are registered.

Vessels must carry appropriate lights for operating between sunset and sunrise, clean and operating flame arrester, proper ventilations, muffling system and a valid certificate of numbers.

Depending on the type of boat, sound-producing devices and fire extinguishers may be required. A Coast Guard approved personal flotation device in serviceable condition and of appropriate size for the intended user is required for each person on board.

Watercraft 16 feet and over (except canoes and kayaks in Montana) must also have a type IV throwable PFD on board and immediately available for use. In Montana and Wyoming, children under 12 must wear a PFD on boats less than 26 feet that are in motion.

Detailed state and federal regulations are at visitor centers and ranger stations.


You are responsible for your own safety. Please make sure that someone who is not with you knows where you are going and when to expect you back. There are no longer registration stations at the boat ramps.

If you are stranded in the canyon DO NOT attempt to climb out. Stay with your boat until help arrives.

Please read more about water safety and boat prepared.

Last updated: February 23, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area South District Visitor Center
20 US Hwy 14A

Lovell, WY 82431


307 548-5406
(307) 548-5406 is the South District in Lovell, WY. (406) 666-9961 is the North District in Fort Smith, MT.

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