Boat on a Lake

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
1 minute, 10 seconds

Prevent the transport of aquatic invasive species to Yellowstone by making sure you clean, drain, and dry your boat before you arrive.

Exploring Yellowstone’s lakes by boat offers a great way to see the park from a different perspective. However, boating in the Northern Rockies presents significant risks. Water temperatures on park lakes are 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.

Boating Season

The boating season is open. Boating season opens on the Saturday of Memorial day and extends through October 31 every year.

Permits & Inspections

The park requires all watercraft (including angler float tubes and paddle boards) to have a Yellowstone National Park Aquatic Invasive Species inspection and boat permit before launching in any Yellowstone waters. Any watercraft with evidence of quagga or zebra mussels will be prohibited from launching. Watercraft that leaves the park for any period or relaunches 7 days after the date on the AIS sticker must return to the permit office for a new inspection. Watercraft include, but are not limited to power boats, sail boats, canoes, kayaks, drift boats, rafts, paddleboards, and angler float tubes.

You can speed up the inspection process by arriving with a boat that is clean, drained, and dry. Watercraft that arrive dirty or with standing water will be subject to decontamination. Watercraft that cannot be properly decontaminated will be prohibited from launching.

Boat permits and AIS inspections are issued at the locations listed below:

Permit & Inspection Location Status 2023 Dates 2023 Hours Notes
Bridge Bay Ranger Station Open May 27 - October 31 8 am - 4:30 pm (daily) Contact: (406) 823-9006
Grant Marina Open May 27- October 31 8 am - 4:30 pm (daily) Contact: (406) 581-9040
Lewis Lake Ranger Station Open June 3 - October 31 8 am - 4:30 pm (daily) Contact: (406) 581-9040
Bechler Ranger Station* Open June 6 - October 31 8 am - 4:30 pm (daily) *Angler float tubes only

Boating Permit Fees

  • Non-motorized: $20 for 7 days or $30 for the season
  • Motorized: $40 for 7 days or $60 for the season

Includes the required aquatic invasive species inspection. Fees are payable by debit or credit card.

Status of Docks:

Docks on Wolf Bay, Eagle Bay, Plover Point, and Frank Island are installed. Bouys on the lake are also installed. (6/8/23)

Boating Regulations

  • Boating season begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (usually the last weekend in May) and extends through October 31.
  • Transporting or introducing invasive species is prohibited: make sure you clean, drain, and dry boats and gear before arriving for your AIS inspection.
  • Watercraft that leaves the park for any period or relaunches 7 days after the date on the AIS sticker must return to the permit office for a new inspection.
  • Watercraft equipped with sealed internal water ballast tanks are banned from all park waters.
  • Motorized boats are only allowed on Lewis and Yellowstone lakes. Boaters using motorized boats on Yellowstone Lake must familiarize themselves with the 5 mile per hour mileage zones and non-motorized boat zone locations.
  • All park rivers are closed to boating except for the section of the Lewis River between Lewis Lake and Shoshone Lake, which is open to non-motorized watercraft only.
  • 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.
  • Swimming in the Bridge Bay Marina Channel is prohibited.
  • Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips.

Additional regulations may apply. If you plan to boat in the park, download the Yellowstone boating regulations and safety booklet.

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.



Clean, Drain, and Dry

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose a grave and growing threat to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and surrounding economies. AIS can quickly and drastically transform habitats for native species, introduce disease, out-compete native species, alter food chains, change the physical characteristics of bodies of water, damage equipment, devastate water-delivery systems, and negatively impact local/regional economies. Preventing the introduction of AIS is critical because eradication is usually impossible. The detection of invasive mussels in Montana in 2016 and the ecological and financial costs of removing lake trout in Yellowstone Lake underscore the urgent need for action to prevent these and other destructive species from entering the park. If nonnative mussels are found in Yellowstone, park managers will consider a temporary closure of all park waters to watercraft to prevent the spread to other waterways.

Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species starts with you. Following a few simple steps whenever you move from a body of water will greatly minimize the risk of spreading aquatic invasives to new locations.


Before you arrive, clean all plants, animals, sand, mud, and other debris from your boat, trailer, anchor, boots, and equipment. Clean your boat and all gear as soon as you leave one body of water. Do not dump water or organisms from one water body into another.

Clean your gear before you leave the area where you fished. All equipment and foot gear, regardless of material can carry AIS.


Drain all the water from your boat, including the motor, bilge, live-well, and other compartments before you arrive. Leave bilge plug out during transport. Do not dump water or organisms from one water body into another.


Dry all compartments and equipment in the sun for at least five days before entering another body of water or use high-pressure, hot (120 to 140 F) water to clean your boat, trailer, waders, boots, and equipment.

Check owner’s manuals before using high-pressure, hot water to clean equipment. Because of risks to the environment and human health, the use of chemicals like bleach is not recommended for cleaning watercraft or recreational equipment.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
1 minute

Clean, drain, and dry your equipment before visiting Yellowstone.

Last updated: August 23, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



Contact Us