Recreation in Rivers, Lakes & Oceans

National parks feature some of the most pristine waters in the U.S. These rivers, lakes, and oceans provide vital resources for natural and human ecosystems. They are also are a great source of recreation, learning and revitalization for visitors to these valued landscapes and resources. 

From coast to coast, boating and watersports encompass a wide-variety of ways and activities for the public to access and enjoy these waters and places either on, in, or under the water including paddling, sailing, motorized boating, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, diving, snorkeling, swimming, and more. 

Some national parks, like Apostle Islands in Wisconsin and Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida, possess unique features that can only be accessed by boat. Allowances for activities varies by park and waterbody so be sure to check with your park of interest to learn about park specific rules, regulations, hazards, and closures.  

This site provides informations and links to background, history, stewardship/ethics, legislation and safety for boating and watersports in the National Park Service and help you to find more information on where you can get out and enjoy the water in a national park.

Park ranger paddling a canoe on a muddy river
Water Vessel Safety

Learn how to prepare for boating trips in canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and more.

Map of the United States showing all units of the National Park System
Find a Park

Looking to visit a park? Discover the parks where you can learn more about boating and watersports.

Last updated: May 24, 2021