Guided Non-motorized Boating CUA



This CUA authorizes guided touring using dories, single or tandem kayaks, canoes, and other small non-motorized vessels in Yellowstone, Lewis, and Shoshone Lakes.

General Provisions

  1. Watercraft Season
    1. Watercraft will be allowed to enter park waters during Yellowstone’s boating season, generally from 7:00 a.m. on the Saturday immediately prior to Memorial Day until 5:30 p.m. on the first Sunday in November. For the most up-to-date information on boating season open and close dates, please visit:
    2. All watercraft is required to have a boat permit and a Yellowstone Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) inspection before launching in the park. Watercraft include, but are not limited to, power boats, sail boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and angler float tubes. Permits and inspections are available seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at locations throughout the park. For a current list of locations, please visit:
  2. There is a maximum limit of 15 watercraft per group, excluding the guide. CUA holders are limited to three groups per day and launch times for each group must be scheduled 30 minutes apart.
  3. If a watercraft does not pass the AIS inspection, it is not allowed to enter park waters.
  4. To prevent the introduction of AIS, the CUA holder must ensure all equipment is cleaned and dried before entering or changing Yellowstone waters.
  5. If a vessel has previously launched on a waterbody known to be infested with zebra or quagga mussels or launched in a high-risk area in the past 30 days, the watercraft must be decontaminated prior to launch.
  6. Any watercraft, trailer, tow vehicle, or other article immersed in park waters known to contain Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), shall be thoroughly inspected prior to entering any other waters within the park.
  7. CUA operators shall arrive at AIS inspections stations with all equipment requiring inspection clean, maintained, and prepared for inspection. Float tubes that require any type of cleaning will be turned away.
  8. Every vessel must have a current Yellowstone National Park watercraft permit and a map of Yellowstone and/or Lewis Lakes when operating there. Appropriate maps can be found in the “Yellowstone National Park Boating Regulations” publication. Operators are required to be familiar with and follow these rules and regulations.
  9. Watercraft must not drift within 25 feet (~7.5 meters) of shoreline thermal features and submerged thermal features and are not allowed to land within thermal areas or within 32 feet (~10 meters) of thermal features. CUA holders and guides are responsible for knowing the location of submerged thermal features and are responsible for vacating an area where a submerged thermal feature is discovered.
  10. Guided fishing from the watercraft is authorized under this permit. 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 leading fishing trips must also have a YNP fishing permit.
  11. Fish that are kept should be cleaned at a cleaning station if possible. Otherwise, all entrails should have the air bladders punctured and then be thrown into the deepest water possible where they were caught. It is prohibited to bury, burn, or leave fish entrails on shore.
  12. All clients and guides must wear Coast Guard approved Type I or Type III personal flotation devices (PFDs) that are properly sized and in serviceable condition.
  13. The CUA holder is responsible for ensuring that all clients and guides are safely equipped and properly clothed for the activity and current/projected weather conditions prior to the trip. This includes, but is not limited, to the following:
    1. A bailing device is required in each watercraft.
    2. A bilge pump is required for each watercraft.
    3. A throwable rescue device is required in each guide watercraft (a throw-bag with a rescue rope is recommended over a Type IV PFD).
    4. One spare paddle or oar is required for each guide's watercraft.
    5. An accessible whistle is required in each watercraft.
    6. A United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved visual distress signal is required for guide use during emergency.
    7. At least one woolen blanket or sleeping bag sealed in a watertight container is required per group.
    8. A working flashlight is required for each watercraft if traveling during periods of reduced visibility.
    9. One spare paddle or oar is recommended for each client’s watercraft.
    10. Marine band radio or cellular phone is recommended.
  14. While on Yellowstone Lake, Lewis Lake, or Shoshone Lake, the CUA holder or guide shall remain with their clients for the duration of the trip.
  15. All guides must have adequate training. One guide on each trip must have relevant outdoor and experience in non-motorized boating and previous experience on the lake they are guiding.
  16. All guides are required to have the following certifications:
    1. CPR and first aid certification (all guides)
    2. Deep water rescue training (all guides)
    3. Wilderness first aid or wilderness first responder certification (required of 1 guide on each trip)
    4. ACA Level II Instructor certification, or equivalent (recommended for at least 1 guide on each trip)
  17. Guides must carry one can of bear spray and be trained in its use if the group is exiting the water for an extended period of time.
  18. Guides intending to operate a marine band radio must apply for and have available a marine band radio Federal Communications Commission (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. Cellular phone coverage does not cover all locations on the lakes.
  19. Felt sole waders and boots are prohibited in Yellowstone National Park. Rubber sole boots are allowed.
  20. Overnight backcountry use is not authorized under this CUA and requires a separate overnight backcountry CUA.

How to apply for this CUA activity

  1. Complete CUA application packets should be submitted via email to
  2. Complete application packets include the documents listed below (click on the blue links below to download each document):
  3. If your application is missing any components listed above, we will inform you via the email address or phone number listed on the application. Any incomplete applications will be placed on hold until all required documentation is received.
  4. Once your application packet has been reviewed and approved, we will send the CUA, NPS Form 10-115, via the email address listed on the application.
  5. The CUA holder will then sign and return the CUA form(s) to The CUA is not final until the signed form(s) are received by our office.
  6. Submit a guide card request for any guides/employees that will be entering the park under this CUA at least two weeks prior to their first trip in the park.
  7. Complete and submit Annual Report Forms—Due by January 31st following the operating year.

Last updated: November 9, 2022

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PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168



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