Red powerboat with large curved wake

Boating in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Boating on Lake Mead and Lake Mohave is one of the more popular activities here. With more than 290 square miles of waterway to navigate, boaters can enjoy the thrill of open water or relax in a private cove. But boating also has its rules and regulations. This page covers everything you need to know to have a fun and safe time boating on the lakes, along with details about the park's many launch ramps and boat rental locations.


Boating Information

To boat at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, you will need a vehicle pass to enter the park and a vessel pass for each vessel to launch. These can be purchased at park entrance stations.

Your boat must be registered and equipped with safety equipment in accordance with your state's vessel laws.

When boating in Nevada, you are required to purchase and display an AIS (aquatic invasive species) decal on your vessel (unless it is registered in Arizona). These can be purchased online at

In Nevada

  • All persons who operate vessels powered by a motor over 15 horsepower and who were born on or after January 1, 1983, must take and pass a boater education course or proficiency exam. The course exam must be one that is approved by NDOW.

  • A person operating a personal watercraft must be at least 14 years of age.

  • A person operating a vessel that is towing a person on water skis, a surfboard or any other device must be:

    • At least 16 years of age or...

    • At least 14 years of age and have on board a person at least 18 years of age in a position to supervise the operator.

In Arizona
It is illegal for a person under the age of 12 to operate a vessel with a motor greater than 8 horsepower (which includes personal watercraft) unless:

  • An emergency exists or...

  • The child's parents or legal guardian is on board or...

  • Another person at least 18 years of age is on board.

Before you launch, make sure that your vessel meets the federal requirements below.

  • Display your boat's registration numbers on each side of the forward half of the boat.

  • Carry a copy of current state registration documents on board.

  • You must have a properly fitting, serviceable life jacket readily available on board for all occupants.

  • Have a way to make a suitable day and night distress signal (flare, strobe light, etc.)

  • Keep a portable fire extinguisher on board (types required vary by vessel).

  • Follow ventilation requirements for your vessel type.

  • All gasoline-powered inboard/outboard or inboard motor boats must be equipped with an approved backfire flame control device.

  • Carry a sound-producing device (whistle, horn, etc.) that can be heard for at least 1/2 mile.

  • All boats (including paddlecraft) must be able to display navigation lights.

  • Boats 26 feet and over with a machinery compartment must display an oily waste pollution placard.

  • Boats 26 feet and over in length must display a "MARPOL" trash placard. Boats 40 feet and over must also display a written trash disposal plan.

  • Any installed toilet must be a Coast Guard approved device. Overboard discharge outlets must be capable of being sealed.

  • Boats 39.4 feet and over must have on board a current copy of the Navigation Rules.

  • Keep your deck free of hazards with a clean bilge.

  • Protect fuses or manual reset circuit breakers from rain or water.

  • Portable fuel tanks must be made of non-breakable material with a vapor-tight, leak-proof cap.

Before you launch, make sure that your vessel meets the federal requirements below.

Lake Mead and Lake Mohave are located in both Nevada and Arizona. As a boater, you are responsible for complying with the laws for both states.

View the Superintendent's Compendium for park-specific boating laws.

All vessels, except sailboards, must have at least one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board or being towed. This includes paddlecraft.

Children under 13 years old must wear a life jacket whenever underway in a vessel, unless they are in a fully enclosed area. Inflatable life jackets are not approved for persons under age 16.

Each person on board a personal watercraft or anyone being towed behind a vessel must wear a life jacket. Inflatable life jackets are not approved for these activities.

All occupants of hand-propelled craft operating between Hoover Dam and River Mile 43 (Chalk Cliffs) on Lake Mohave are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device when underway.

Marinas on Lake Mead and Lake Mohave rent a variety of boats, including sports boats, pontoon boats, fishing boats, houseboats, personal watercraft and paddlecraft. They also rent water sports equipment, such as waterskis and wakeboards. For full details and to make a reservation, contact the marinas directly.

When you rent a boat, you will not need to purchase a vessel pass or AIS decal. Those are provided by the marina.

A person renting a vessel in Nevada must meet their state of residence boating education requirements. Every operator of a rental vessel is required to receive a safety briefing before operating the vessel.

Lake levels change regularly. Visit the Bureau of Reclamation website to see hourly elevation levels of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.

If and when lake levels decline, solid launch ramps may be extended with concrete planks or pipe mats. Visit the park's current conditions page for the latest status.

Launching is at your own risk. Always check your surroundings before launching.

No one may operate a personal watercraft that does not meet the 2006 emission standards set by EPA for the manufacturing of two-stroke engines. A person operating a personal watercraft that meets the EPA 2006 emission standards through the use of direct-injection two-stroke or four-stroke engines, or the equivalent thereof, is not subject to this prohibition and will be allowed to operate as described in this section.

See if your PWC is compliant.

Marinas on Lake Mead and Lake Mohave offer both on-the-water and dry boat storage. For full details and to make a reservation, contact the marinas directly.


Last updated: February 20, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

601 Nevada Way
Boulder City, NV 89005


702 293-8990
Call 911 For All Emergencies (24 hours). Call 988 for Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (24 Hours). Call 702-293-8990 for Visitor and Recreation Information (Visitor Center open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 7 days a week, excluding Christmas Day and New Year's Day). Call 702-293-8906 for Park Business and Administration (Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday, excluding Christmas Day and New Year's Day).

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