Canoer on Yellowstone Lake
Swap your car for a canoe and explore Yellowstone's lakes.

NPS / Jim Peaco


Exploring Yellowstone’s lakes by boat offers a great way to see the park from a different perspective. However, boating in the Nothern Rockies presents significant risks. Water temperatures on park lakes is in the 40s (Fahrenheit) in June, and may reach the 60s by late summer. In addition, sudden strong winds can produce three to five foot waves, making open-water crossings very dangerous. Boaters in canoes, kayaks, and other small craft must be aware of these hazards and plan accordingly.

Guided Trips & Rentals

Yellowstone National Park Lodges provides boat rentals and guided boat trips at Bridge Bay Marina on Yellowstone Lake. Other companies offer guided services for canoeing, kayaking, and motorized boating.


If you plan to use your own boat or float tube in Yellowstone, you’ll need a permit. Permits for motorized and non-motorized craft can be purchased at the Snake River Ranger Station, Bridge Bay Ranger Station, and Grant Village Backcountry Office. Float tube only permits are available at the Mammoth, Canyon and Old Faithful backcountry offices, Northeast Entrance, and Bechler Ranger Station. The following fees are charged:

Nonmotorized: $5 for 7 days or $10/season
Motorized: $10 for 7 days or $20/season

As part of the permitting process, all watercraft will be inspected for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Any watercraft suspected of harboring AIS will be subject to a non-chemical, decontamination treatment.


  • Motorized boats are only allowed on Lewis and Yellowstone lakes.
  • All park rivers are closed to boating except for the section of the Lewis River between Lewis Lake and Shoshone Lake.
  • Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and other non-motorized boats are permitted on all lakes except Sylvan Lake, Eleanor Lake, Twin Lakes, and Beach Springs Lagoon.
  • All vessels must have a US Coast Guard approved, wearable PFD (Type I, II, III, or V) for each person on board.
  • Vessels must not exceed 40 feet in length.
  • The use of jet skis, personal watercraft, airboats, submersibles, and similar vessels is prohibited in Yellowstone.
  • Towing water skiers, wakeboards, parasails, or performing similar activities is prohibited.
  • Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips.

Addition regulations apply. If you plan to boat in the park, read our booklet on boating regulations and safety.


Water-related Regulations & Safety

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Over 100 people have lost their lives in the park’s cold lakes and streams. Strong winds can make open-water crossings very dangerous. Boaters in canoes, kayaks, and other small craft must be aware of these hazards and plan accordingly.


Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168


(307) 344-7381

Contact Us