River Regulations

Below are the river use stipulations as they appear on non-commercial river permits.


  • This permit is nontransferable and is valid only for the person, dates, places, and number of people listed on the permit. Permittee must have government issued photo identification.
  • A signed permit must be in the permittee's possession at all times and must be presented to any authorized person upon request.
  • This permit is valid for non-commercial use only. Charging trip participant fees in excess of actual trip costs, amortizing equipment, or advertising in order to seek further participants for the trip, are activities consistent with commercial guiding. Only companies authorized by the National Park Service may conduct guided trips.
  • Groups launching upriver from the park must specify the date on which they will pass Mineral Bottom or Potash. Backpackers using pack rafts or other methods to float downstream may launch and/or take out in other locations, but only as specified on their permit.1
  • Groups traveling under one permit must travel and camp together and occupy only one campsite. Groups may not separate for the purpose of securing campsites ahead of other groups.
  • Two or more permitted groups may join together and travel as one group for safety. When combined groups camp together, they may not exceed the maximum group size (40 people).
  • The permittee is responsible for the conduct of all participants and ensuring that all participants comply with park regulations.

Required Equipment

Federal and state regulations outline an assortment of equipment necessary for river trips. The following items are required:

  • A rigid, durable metal fire pan that is large enough to fully contain all fire ash and debris (NOTE: turkey basting pans are NOT allowed).
  • A means to securely contain and remove human waste from the backcountry. Systems approved for river use are washable, reusable containers equipped with RV dump fittings, or commercial bag systems (e.g. Wag Bag, Restop II) that render human waste into a non-hazardous material. Bag systems must be stored in hard-sided containers or heavy-duty, waterproof bags labeled "Human Waste."
  • One approved, serviceable type I, III, or V personal flotation device (PFD)2 for each trip participant.
  • One spare PFD2 for every ten people on the trip, or one per boat; whichever is fewer.
  • A readily accessible spare means of propulsion capable of maneuvering the vessel (oar, paddle, motor, etc.) for each boat. Low capacity boats designed to carry two or fewer occupants (canoes and kayaks) may carry one spare paddle for every three boats. Commercially made hand paddles are approved for hard-hulled, whitewater kayaks.
  • A serviceable, type IV throwable device (throw cushion) for every boat 16 feet or more in length. For boats less than 16 feet, a commercially made throw bag with at least 40 feet of line is allowed in lieu of a type IV throwable device.
  • Repair kit or kits adequate for repairing the number and types of boats on the trip. Hard-hulled boats may carry epoxy and duct tape or an equivalent means of repair.
  • If boats with inflatable components are used on the trip, an air pump or pumps.
  • A bailing device or bilge pump for boats that are not self-bailing.
  • A first aid kit adequate for the size of the group, length of trip, and type of activity.


  • You must have a permit if you are travelling upstream or downstream on the rivers within the park.
  • You must also abide by all river rules, regulations, and required equipment (with the exception of carrying a spare paddle and spare PFD).
  • Nights spent outside of the river corridor (1⁄2 mile or 1,000 vertical feet from the river) must be in designated campsites or zones indicated on the permit. Read more about packrafting.


  • Solid human waste must be securely contained and removed from the backcountry.
  • PFDs must be worn3 when boating below the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers and above the last active rapid in Cataract Canyon. Above the confluence, PFDs must be readily accessible. Children 12 and under must wear3 PFDs at all times while on the river.
  • Motorized boats must have valid state registration, decals, placards and a serviceable fire extinguisher. Boats with out-of-state registration are allowed on Utah waters for 60 days per calendar year.
  • Personal watercraft (e.g., JetSkis) are not permitted on the rivers of Canyonlands.
  • Upstream travel (up running)4 between the first rapid in Cataract Canyon and Imperial Canyon is prohibited.
  • All vessels must comply with federal and state laws preventing the spread of non-native, aquatic species.5
  • Disturbing or collecting natural features is prohibited. This includes fossils, plants and rocks.
  • Hunting, feeding or disturbing wildlife is prohibited. Fishing is permitted in accordance with Utah state law.
  • Archeological and historic sites are protected. It is unlawful to disturb, enter or camp within 300 feet of archeological or historic sites.
  • The caching of food, water or equipment is allowed only with approval from a district ranger. Boaters who leave boats or equipment unattended must secure food, garbage and supplies so that wind and wildlife cannot create litter. If boats and equipment remain unattended for over 24 hours, they should be stored in a way that allows other groups to occupy a site. No individual, company, or other entity may be paid or otherwise compensated to place caches for someone. Email us for a cache request form.

The following are prohibited in Canyonlands National Park:

  • The discharging of firearms
  • Pets, fireworks and littering
  • Geocaching6 that involves leaving any items in place
  • Towing persons by vessels

When camping on your trip, the following restrictions apply:

  • No camping within 300 feet, or use of soap within 100 feet, of springs or intermittent streams.
  • Only driftwood7 may be collected for firewood. Fire debris must be contained in a fire pan at all times. All fire debris and ash must be packed out of the backcountry. Fire blankets are recommended to facilitate fire clean up.
  • River trips may not camp at designated vehicle campsites on the White Rim Road or in the Maze unless authorized by permit.1
  • River trips may not camp at Lathrop Canyon (where the road ends).
  • Camping away from the river (backpacking) requires prior arrangements with the park, and may require an additional permit.1

Use Limits/Closures

In order to protect the park and its resources, the following limitations and closures are in effect:

  • Hiking in the Doll House area is limited to designated trails.
  • Jasper Canyon is closed to entry upstream of the first jump visible from the river.
  • The mouths and lower portions of Salt Creek and Big Spring, Little Spring, and Elephant canyons are closed to entry from March 15 through September 1 during bighorn sheep lambing season.
  • From the mouth of lower Red Lake Canyon to the mouth of Cross and Y canyons is restricted to day use only from December 1 through February 28 for the protection of bald eagles.


1 Any river trips using nontraditional launches or take outs, combining different modes of transport or wishing to stay in designated campsites must coordinate their travel with the park to obtain the proper permit(s).

2 PFDs approved for use on whitewater trips must have a U.S. Coast Guard label that specifies the intended use as "whitewater rafting" or "kayaking, canoeing, paddling or sailing." General use, universal, general boating and water ski PFDs are not approved for use in whitewater, but are allowed on flat water trips. Inflatable PFDs are not allowed on rivers in Utah. PFDs must be in good condition (serviceable) with a legible label, no rips, tears or excessive sun damage, all buckles and fasteners functioning, and no repairs or after-market modifications.

3 Worn/wear: As it pertains to PFDs, worn means on the torso, snug, with all fasteners and closures secure. A PFD that is slung around the shoulders and unfastened is not considered to be worn.

4 Up running: Travel by motorized vessel predominately against the current. Motorized vessels are permitted to use eddy currents to return to the beginning of a rapid that has just been run, but are not allowed to up run any further.

5 Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has increased enforcement of their zebra mussel prevention program on Lake Powell. Learn More about Zebra Mussel Requirements at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

6 Geocaching: Geocaching is defined as placing a cache of items within the park boundaries and distributing the coordinates, or other clues to the coordinates, for the purpose of locating the cache at a later date.

7 Driftwood: Driftwood is wood that has clearly been transported by river flows and deposited on beaches and shorelines below the high water mark. Dead and down wood that has either fallen from existing vegetation, or been placed in slash piles through resource management projects is not considered driftwood.

Last updated: September 7, 2022

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