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.

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.

Permits & Inspections

If you plan to use your own boat or angler float tube, you’ll need a permit and a Yellowstone aquatic invasive species inspection. 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.

Applying a Yellowstone AIS sticker to a boat
All watercraft, including angler float tubes, must pass a Yellowstone AIS inspection before a boating permit can be issued.

NPS / Jacob W. Frank


Permits and inspections are issued at the locations listed below. These facilities are open seven days a week from 8 am to 4:30 pm during the summer season. Boating season opens on the Saturday of Memorial day and ends the first Monday in November.

Motorized & Non-motorized Watercraft (including angler float tubes)

  • Bridge Bay Ranger Station
  • Grant Village Backcountry Office
  • Lewis Lake Ranger Station

Angler Float Tubes Only

  • Bechler Ranger Station
  • Northeast Entrance

Inspection Station Contact Numbers

  • Grant: 406 581-9040
  • Lake: 406 823-9006


The following fees are charged for boating permits (includes required aquatic invasive species inspection):

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

Payable by debit or credit card.


  • Boating season begins the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (usually the last weekend in May) and extends through the first Sunday in November.
  • Transporting or introducing invasive species is prohibited: make sure you clean, drain, and dry boats and gear before arriving for your AIS inspection.
  • 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, 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.
  • Watercraft equipped with sealed internal water ballast tanks are temporarily banned in the park.

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

Lightning strikes Electric Peak as a dark storm rolls over the mountain.

Backcountry Situation Report

Current conditions for trails and campsites.

Photo of a park employee cleaning a boat with a power washer.

Clean, Drain, and Dry

Protect park waters by preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

A person unloading a canoe on the shore of Yellowstone Lake.

Permits & Reservations

Review what you need a permit for and avoid surprises.

A lone person standing on a boardwalk and takes a picture of steaming hot springs.

Things To Do

Explore all the different things there are to do in the park.

Last updated: September 7, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



Contact Us