CUA for Guided Motorized Boating Operating Plan

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The CUA for Motorized Boating allows the CUA holder to conduct guided touring or fishing trips in larger motorized boats on Yellowstone Lake and/or Lewis Lake. Portions of Yellowstone Lake and all of Shoshone Lake are restricted to non-motorized boats.

General Provisions

  1. Boating Season
    1. Boats will be allowed to enter park waters from 7 am on Saturday, May 29, 2021, until 5:30 pm on Sunday, November 7, 2021.
    2. All watercraft are required to have a boat permit and a Yellowstone AIS inspection before launching in the park. Watercraft include, but are not limited to, power boats, sail boats, canoes, kayaks, and angler float tubes. Permits and inspections are available seven days a week between 8 am and 4:30 pm at various locations in the park.
  2. If a boat does not pass the AIS inspection, it is not allowed to enter park waters.
  3. Any watercraft, trailer, tow vehicle, or other article immersed in park waters known to contain Aquatic Invasive Species, shall be thoroughly inspected prior to entering any other waters within the park. Any watercraft, trailer, tow vehicle, other article required to be inspected by AIS staff must be cleaned thoroughly by the CUA holder prior to all inspections.
  4. To prevent Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), the CUA holder must ensure gear and tackle are cleaned and dried before entering or changing Yellowstone waters.
  5. Waters known to be contaminated by Aquatic Invasive Species include: Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone River (Yellowstone Lake to the park north boundary), Pelican Creek, Gardiner River (Mammoth Hot Springs to the park north boundary), Lewis River (south of Lewis Falls), Madison River, Gibbon River (Madison to Norris), Firehole River (Madison to Old Faithful), and Nez Perce Creek.
  6. Commercial motorized boat operators must follow National Park Service (NPS) regulations (Intermountain Region Task Directives 1990). Safety equipment must be approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). All FCC licensing requirements need to be followed.
  7. Every vessel must have a current Yellowstone National Park boat permit and a map of Yellowstone and/or Lewis Lakes when operating there. Operators are required to be familiar with and follow the rules and regulations found in the “Yellowstone National Park Boating Regulations” publication.
  8. "Class I (16'to 26') and Class II (26' < 40') motorized boats shall proceed no closer than 1/4 mile from the shoreline of the South and Southeast arms of Yellowstone Lake except to debark or embark passengers, or while moored while passengers are ashore." 36 CFR 7.13(9)(i).
  9. Motorized boats are limited to drift within 25 feet (~7.5 meters) of shoreline thermal features and submerged thermal features, and are not allowed to land within 32 feet (~10 meters) of thermal features. CUA holders are responsible for knowing the location of submerged features or vacating an area where a submerged thermal feature is discovered.
  10. Watercraft equipped with sealed internal water ballast tanks are currently banned in the park to minimize the risk of introducing aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Yellowstone waters. The banned boats have tanks filled with water to produce specific wakes for waterskiing and wakeboarding (neither activity is allowed in the park). Boats with sealed ballast tanks are extremely difficult to clean and drain, even with the park's rigorous inspection and decontamination efforts, so they pose a high risk of AIS transmission into park waters.
  11. This permit includes guided fishing from the boat. All clients who are fishing must have a Yellowstone National Park (YNP) fishing permit and must obey park fishing regulations. Fishing permits are required for anyone 16 years and older. Guides must also have a YNP fishing permit.
  12. All clients must wear Type I USCG approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) that are properly sized, in serviceable condition.
  13. The CUA holder is responsible for ensuring that all clients are safely equipped and properly clothed prior to the trip. Each boat must have, at a minimum, the following:
    1. at least one woolen blanket/sleeping bag sealed in a watertight compartment or container
    2. paddle for emergency use
    3. manual bailing device
    4. waste receptacle
    5. whistle
    6. USCG visual distress signal
    7. first-aid kit
    8. required lights, flame arrestors, fire extinguishers, etc.
    9. marine band radio or cellular phone is recommended
  14. While on Yellowstone Lake or Lewis Lake, the CUA holder or guide shall remain with their clients for the duration of the trip.
  15. CUA holders are limited to launching no more than 5 boats per day.
  16. One guide on each trip must have relevant outdoor experience including previous experience on the lakes they are guiding.
  17. Guides intending to operate a marine band radio must apply for and have available a marine band radio FCC license. Call (800) 418-3676 for forms or (202) 418-0220 for assistance. Currently, the National Park Service does not monitor marine band traffic 24 hours a day. During the summer marine band is monitored during the day. Please be aware that cellular phone coverage does not cover all locations on the lakes.
  18. Felt sole waders and boots are banned in Yellowstone National Park. Rubber sole boots are allowed.
  19. Shuttle service for canoers/kayakers or backpackers is not permitted.
  20. Overnight backcountry use is not authorized under this CUA.

Guided Motorized Boating

Commercial Use Authorization for Guided Motorized Boating Operating Plan

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Activity-based CUAs

These include biking, environmental education, tours, boating, skiing and snowshoeing, overnight backcountry, art workshops, and fishing.

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Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs)

The National Park Service requires specific authorizations for commercial businesses to operate in national parks.

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Resources for Commercial Guides

Download or review resources for anyone who may routinely work with visitors to Yellowstone National Park.

Last updated: September 24, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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