Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
3 minutes, 56 seconds

The Delaware River is a great place to enjoy a variety of recreational activities such as rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. However, it is important to not only have fun but also stay safe while you are out on the water. River obstacles, deceptively fast currents, steep drop-offs, and year-round cold-water temperatures are just a few things that can catch unprepared river users by surprise. We strongly recommend anyone interested in going on or in the river to watch this safety video beforehand.

Read more about safety on the Delaware River!


Top 10 Safety Tips:

black and white icon of life jacket

1. Wear a Properly Fitted Life Jacket

The river can be deceptive and dangerous. On average, there are 2 drowning incidents each year at the Upper Delaware River. Do not overestimate your swimming abilities. Experienced and strong swimmers have drowned in the river in the past. Those in a boat are also strongly recommended to wear a life jacket.

Wearing a life jacket and wearing it correctly is the safest thing you can do while on or in the river. Life jackets should be in good condition and fit snugly to the person so that it does not slide over the head when pulled. See the River Rules section for more details on who and when life jackets must be worn.

black and white icon of tick. Tick is a wide teardrop shape with head at top. Head is split halfway down middle so each side is pointed. Tick has 8 legs, four on each side of body.

2. Watch Out for Ticks

The Upper Delaware region is home not just to bald eagles and black bears, but also ticks. Some tick species can carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection which can lead to long-term health issues if not treated quickly.

Ticks live in grasses, bushes, and brush. To reduce chances of getting bitten, stay on trails and avoid bushy, grassy areas. After spending time outdoors check yourself and your pet for ticks. Although ticks are most active in the summer, they can still bite and contract disease during other seasons of the year. Learn more on how to reduce the chances of being bitten and what to do if you are bitten.

black and white icon of water bottle and end of hose or spout with water dripping from it.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water when hiking on trails and on the river. Drinking water will help keep you cool and reduce the likelihood of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Alcohol consumption is prohibited with the park boundaries and while on the river. Alcohol is not an adequate substitute for water when dehydrated. Glass is also prohibited within park boundaries. Broken glass is dangerous for visitors and wildlife.

black and white icon of backpack

4. Wear the Right Clothes, Bring the Right Gear

In the summer, a hat, sunscreen, and other sun protection are essential. Always bring an extra towel and change of clothes in case you get wet. Wear a life-jacket if near, on, or in the water. In the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing, so bundle up and wear plenty of layers, along with a hat and gloves.

The bottom of the river can range from slippery to sharp, so wearing closed-toed shoes are highly recommended to be worn year-round, for any activity.

And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to bring water and salty snacks!

black square icon with white triangle with "!" inside. ARound it is a snowflake icon partially submerged in water and a thermometer at a low temperature.

5. Know the Signs for Hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs when the body is at a dangerously low temperature and is caused by extended exposure to very cold temperatures. Hypothermia is not just an issue for the winter. The water temperature is often much colder than the air temperature, and even on a warmer day the river water can still be very cold.

If you suspect you or someone else may have hypothermia, move them to a warm, dry place with shelter. Rest and replace any wet clothing with dry clothing. Have them drink something warm. Contact a medical professional if their condition does not improve.



black square icon with white triangle with "!" inside. Around it is a sun icon and thermometer icon at a high temperature.

6. Know the Signs for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heat Exhaustion occurs when the body has lost too much water and salt, usually due to excessive sweating and heat exposure. Heat exhaustion can be treated by immediately resting; moving to a cool, shady place; drinking water and fluids; supplementing fluids with food; and loosening clothes. If symptoms persist after two hours, seek medical help.

Severe heat exhaustion can result in Heat Stroke. Heat stroke is when the body can no longer control its temperature and can be fatal if not treated immediately. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 or seek medical assistance immediately. While waiting for assistance, move the person to a cool, shaded place and cool the individual down as much as possible.



black and white icon of box with check mark in middle

7. Have a Plan

Make a plan and prepare for emergencies. Always call 911 in case of emergencies and save local emergency contact numbers ahead of time. However, be aware that cell phone coverage is spotty throughout the park and you may not have cell phone reception in certain areas.

For safety, always let someone else know where you are going and when you expect to return. If with a group, set up places and times to meet up and reconvene.

black and white icon of smartphone with exclamation mark on its screen

8. Check the Weather and Park Conditions

Plan ahead and check the weather so you know what to expect, bring the right gear, and dress appropriately. Check our weather page for information on what to expect and the current conditions page for any special notifications and current park conditions.

Be mindful that many roads in the park are local roads which are winding and may be narrow. Drive safe and slow, especially during poor weather. During heavy rain, there may be risk of flooding. During snow, it may take some time for local roads to be plowed.

black and white icon of binoculars

9. Give Animals Space

A large variety of wildlife call the Upper Delaware River region home. Please be respectful and keep your distance for their safety and yours. Do not feed wildlife.

Animals which have been seen in the park’s boundaries include but are not limited to deer, various birds, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, bats, foxes, and snakes. The only venomous snake likely to be encountered in the Upper Delaware Region is the Timber Rattlesnake. However, the Timber Rattlesnake is not aggressive and unlikely to bite a person unless provoked.

black and white icon of person walking on a trail/path, shown in white

10. Stay on Public Lands

Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is surrounded by private, state, and federal agency property. This includes property alongside the Delaware River. When on the river, do not disembark on private property or where there are houses. When hiking, stay on trails. During hunting season, wearing bright colors such as orange or pink is encouraged.

view of river. Sign next to river reads "Life Jackets Save Lives" with a graphic of a life jacket and NPS arrowhead. More text reads "Swimming, boating, fishing, floating. Wear It!"
Life jackets are required to be worn during high water and cold water conditions.


River Safety Rules:

  • Life jackets must be readily available when boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, or using any flotation device on or in the river. This means that a life jacket must be with you, within reach, and in your boat or floatation device.

  • Life jackets are required to be worn by children 12 years and younger.

  • Life jackets are required to be worn by everyone when the river level is six feet or higher and during the Mandatory Cold Water Lifejacket Season, from November 1 – April 30. This is due to the risk of cold-water shock. River level data is available from the U.S. Geological Survey which provides detailed information on Upper Delaware River water temperature, discharge, and height at the Barryville and Callicoon gauges.

  • Glass is prohibited within park boundaries. Broken glass can injure other people and wildlife.

  • Do not trespass on private property. Many properties around the river are privately owned. Please respect the local community and do not stop at or trespass on private lands.


Stay Informed:

River conditions can change very quickly. Stay informed by calling the river hotline line at 845-252-7100 for daily information about river height, air and water temperatures, boating conditions, and general river safety. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from May 1 to October 1.

Please not that cell phone reception is spotty and there are many areas in the park with limited or no cell phone reception.

Emergency Contact Numbers:

In an emergency call 911.

National Park Service 24 Hour Dispatch: 570 426-2457

New York State Police
Deposit (near Hancock): 607-467-3215
Narrowsburg: 845-252-3212
Deerpark (north of Port Jervis): 845-856-5911

Pennsylvania State Police
Honesdale: 570-253-7126
Blooming Grove (near Hawley): 570-226-5718


Come Prepared!

  • River in forest with high, rough waters. Water is brown with white rapids.

    Learn about typical weather conditions and how to best prepare to visit the Upper Delaware valley.

  • Woman wearing life jacket buckled snugly closed. She tugs on shoulders but it doesn't give.
    River Safety

    Whether you are interested in boating, fishing, swimming, or wading, learn how to be safe on or in the river!

  • Rangers in canoes on the river. Blue sky with fluffy clouds. Green trees cover hills on river.
    Current Conditions

    Check out current weather and safety conditions at the park before you head out!

  • Close up photo of hiking boot with ticks on it. Ticks are tiny brown & black arthropods with 8 legs

    Small but scary, keep yourself informed about the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease.

  • small grey-brown snake slithering over sandy ground with pebbles, sticks, and a sapling.
    Wildlife Safety

    Keep a safe distance. Learn how to safely and respectfully view wildlife in the park.

  • Couple sits on rocks on the edge of a river. Yellow-green trees form a forest across the river.
    Plan Your River Trip

    Get information on what you need to know and bring on a river trip at the Upper Delaware.

Last updated: March 29, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

274 River Road
Beach Lake, PA 18405


570 685-4871

Contact Us