The list below is long. Slide down the page to find the body of water you are looking for within the Inland NW (N Idaho and Eastern WA). Organized via counties!

Boating the Inland NW collaborates with Access To Outdoors to included accessible scales to enable those with disAbilities to determine if they can use a facility. Learn more near the bottom of this page. See disAbled access projects we are currently working on in the list below with the word MAP (Marine Access Projects) at the end of the body of waters name. Note some MAP's will be accompanied with the word completed, meaning project is done.

Please Donate via PayPal to help support the growth of this resource to Access To Outdoors at this link



This page is always in a state of updates so please visit often.


About St. Joe River, Heyburn State Park, and Area Lakes
Bell Lake
Benewah Lake
Chatcolet Lake
Hepton Lake
Hidden Lake
Round Lake
St. Joe River
St. Maries River
Swan Lake
Turtle Lake

Antelope Lake
Blanchard Lake
Blue Lake
Blue Heron Lake
Chase Lake
Clark Fork River
Fish Lake
Freeman Lake
Gamble Lake
Granite Lake
Hoodoo Lake
Jewel Lake
Kelso Lake
Lake Cocolalla
Lake Pend Oreille
Lake San Souci
Mirror Lake
Moose Creek Pond
Muskrat Lake
Pend Oreille River in Idaho
Poirier Creek Reservoir
Priest Lake
Priest River
Round Lake with State Park
Round Lake/Pond
Shepherd Lake
Upper Priest Lake

Blue Lake
Bonner Lake
Brush Lake MAP (completed 2018)
Dawson Lake
Herman Lake
Kootenai River and National Wildlife Refuge
MacArthur Lake
Moyie Springs Reservoir and River
Perkins Lake
Queen Lake
Robinson Lake
Sinclair Lake
Smith Lake MAP (Updating 2020)
Solomon Lake MAP (Completed 2019)
Welsh Lake

Dworshak Reservoir
Deep Creek Reservoir
Campbell Pond
Elk Creek Reservoir
Elk Creek Falls
Clearwater River
Lochsa River

Alpine Lake
Anderson Lake
Avondale Lake
Black Lake
Blue Lake
Bull Run Lake
Cave Lake
Chilco Lake
Coeur d'Alene River & Chain Lakes
Fernan Lake
Hauser Lake
Hayden Lake
Killarney Lake
Lake Coeur d'Alene
Lake Pend Oreille
Medicine Lake
Porter Pond
Rose Lake
Radiant Lake
Riverstone Pond
Spirit Lake
Spokane River... About Spokane River
Spokane River from Lake Coeur d'Alene to Post Falls Dam MAP 2020
Spokane River from below Post Falls Dam in Idaho through Idaho Washington Boarder to Upriver Dam in WA. (includes Upriver Reservoir)
Swan Lake
Thompson Lake
Tottens Pond
Twin Lakes
Post Falls Reservoir... Spokane River from Lake Coeur d'Alene to Post Falls Dam MAP 2020

Moose Creek Reservoir
Spring Valley Reservoir

Coeur d'Alene River River and Chain Lakes (Shoshone and Kootenai Counties)
North Fork Coeur d'Alene River
Little North Fork Coeur d'Alene River
South Fork Coeur d'Alene River
Day Rock Pond
Elsie Lake MAP completed for now 2017
Lower and Upper Glidden Lakes
Steamboat Pond

INLAND NORTHWEST WATER LEVELS, ETC. NOAA Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service - Click Here!


Cow Lake
Fourth of July Lake
Halfmoon Lake
Hallin Lake
Sprague Lake

-- Lake Info Coming Soon --
Black Lake
Bennett Lake
Grimes Lake
Jameson Lake
James Pothole Lake
Stallard Lake
Wilson Lake
Columbia River and Reservoirs
Lake Roosevelt

-- Lake Info Coming Soon --
Camp Lake
Clark Pond
Columbia River and Reservoirs
Dalton Lake
Eagle Lakes
Lake Kahlotus
Mesa Lake
Potholes Pond
Scooteney Reservoir
Snake River and Reservoirs
Sulphur Lake
T Lake
Washtucna Lake
Palouse Falls State Park and Lyons Ferry State Park

GRANT COUNTY... Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and Sheep area Lakes & Canals
Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (information)
Alkali Lake
Banks Lake
Billy Clapp Lake
Brooks/Stafford Lake
Blythe and Chukar Lakes
Canal Lake
Corral Lake
Crescent Bay Lake
Crescent Lake Upper
Crescent Lake Lower
Chukar and Blythe Lakes
Deep Lake
Dry Falls Lake
Elbow Lake
Frenchman Hills Lake
Frenchman and Winchester Wasteway-Canals
Goose Lake Upper
Goose Lake Lower
Halfmoon Lake
Hampton Lakes, Upper and Lower
Hart Lake
Herman and Quail Lakes
Homestead Lake
Hutchinson and Shiner Lakes
Katy Lake
Lenore Lake
Lower Crescent Lake Lower
Lower Goose Lake Lower
Lower Hampton Lake
Long Lake
Lyle Lake
Marco Polo Lake
Morgan Lake
Moses Lake
North Teal Lake
Pillar Lake
Potholes Reservoir
Potholes Canal Chain Lakes and Access Points - Between O'Sullivan Dam and Othello, WA.
Potholes Canal Article
Quail and Herman Lakes
Royal Lake
Sage Lake
Sandy Lake
Shiner and Hutchinson Lakes
Soda Lake
South Teal Lake
South Warden Lake
Sun Lakes
Susan Lake
Thread Lake
Three Sisters Lake - Canal, Hart, Windmill Lakes
Upper Crescent Lake Upper
Upper Goose Lake Upper
Upper Hampton Lake
Warden Lake
Windmill Lake

Coffeepot Lake
Fishtrap Lake
Fourth of July Lake
Lake Spokane
Lake Roosevelt ( 509-633-9507)
Long Lake (Lake Spokane)
Pacific Lake
Spokane Lake (Lake Spokane)
Sprague Lake
Sylvan Lake
Sullivan Lake
Upper and Lower Twin Lakes

Anderson Lake
Bayley Lake
Bead Lake
Big Meadow Lake
Boundary Lake
Browns Lake
Bunchgrass Lake
Caldwell Lake
Calispell Creek
Calispell Lake
Campbell Pond (Bos Canyon Dam)
Chain Lakes
Cougar Lake and Pond
Crescent Lake
Davis Lake
Diamond Lake
Fan Lake
Frater lake
Freeman Lake
Horseshoe Lake and Blue Lakes
(Little) Horseshoe Lake
Half Moon Lake
Ione Mill Pond
Lake of the Woods
Lake Lucerne
Leo Lake
Ledbetter Lake
Little Anderson Lake
Little Lost Lake
Lost Lake
Lower Lead Kind Lake
Lucerene Lake
Marsh Lake
Mill Pond
Mountain Meadow Lakes
Mystic Lake
Nile Lake
No Name Lake
North Muskegon Lake
North Skookum Lake
South Skookum Lake
Reed Lake
Parker Lake/Pond
Pend Oreille River
Pend Oreille River Reservoir/Boundary Dam Reservoir
Petit Lake
Power Lake
Sacheen Lake
Scotchman Lake
Shearer Lake
South Skookum
Sportsman Pond
Sullivan Lake
Trask Pond
Trout Lake
Upper Lead Kind Lake
Yokum Lake
Vanes Lake
Wilderness Lake

Alderman Lake
Alkali Lake
Amber Lake
Arthur Lake
Avista Pond
Badger Lake
Badger Pond
Bailey Lake
Bear Lake
Beacon Hill Pond
Bonnie Lake
Chapman Lake
Clear Lake
Clear Pond
Davis Lake
Dead Mans Lake
Division Street Pond
Downs Lake
Dragon Lake
Dragon Creek
Duck Pond/Marsh
Eloika Lake
Espanola Ponds
Feustal Lake
Fish Lake
Fishtrap Lake
Granite Lake
Hansen Lake
Heron Pond
Hidden Lake
Hog Lake
Horseshoe Lake
Johnson Lake
Knight Lake
Lake Spokane
Liberty Lake
Lonelyville Lake
Long Lake (Lake Spokane)
Mason Lake
Mirabeau Park Pond
Meadow Lake
Meadow Wood Golf Course Ponds
Medical Lake
Moore Lake
Newman Lake
Otter Lake
Owens Lake
Page Pond
Philleo Lake
Ring Lake
Reflection Lake
Shelley Lake
Silver Lake
Spokane Lake (Lake Spokane)
Spokane Ponds and Mirabeau Park
Sprague Lake
Tule Pond
West Medical Lake
Williams Lake
Willow Lake
Wandermere Lake
Woods Lake and Pond

About Spokane River... Rules, notices, etc.

Post Falls Reservoir... Spokane River from Lake Coeur d'Alene to Post Falls Dam MAP 2020

Upriver... Spokane River (includes Upriver Reservoir) from below Post Falls Dam in Idaho through Idaho Washington Boarder to Upriver Dam in WA.

Upper River... section of Spokane River from Upriver Falls Dam/Reservoir to River Front Park in city of Spokane. MAP 2020

River Gorge...  Spokane River from Upper River Dam in down town Spokane to Nine Mile Dam/Reservoir

Lake Spokane... Spokane River from Nine Mile Dam to Lake Spokane

Little Falls... Spokane River from Lake Spokane Dam to Little Falls Dam (includes Little Falls Reservoir)

Lower Spokane River... Spokane River from Little Falls Dam to Lake Roosevelt

Bailey Lake
Black Lake
Brown Lake
Buzzard Lake, Pond, and Marsh
Cedar Lake
Coffin Lake
Colville River
Deep Lake
Deer Lake
Dragon Creek
Gillette Lake
Heritage Lake
Jumpoff Joe Lake
Lake Thomas
Lake Spokane
Lake Roosevelt ( 509-633-9507)
Loon Lake
Long Lake (Lake Spokane)
Mudget Lake
Red Lake
Sherry Lake
Spokane Lake (Lake Spokane)
Starvation Lake
Turtle Lake
Waitts lake

Bonnie Lake
Clear Lake
Crooked Knee
Folsom Lake
Hooper Lake
Palouse River
Pampa Pound
Rock Lake
Sheep Creek
Snake River and Reservoirs

Grays Harbor
Willapa Harbor
Beach and Near Shore Waters between Grays and Willapa Harbors
For San Juan Islands and Puget Sound Sailing CLICK HERE!

INLAND NORTHWEST WATER LEVELS, ETC. NOAA Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service - Click Here!

INLAND NORTHWEST WATER LEVELS, ETC. NOAA Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service - Click Here!


CASCADIAN RAMBLER... Articles of about kayaking in the Inland NW and other locations.

FOLLOWING SECTIONS... Marine Directory; Boating Laws; Navigation Rules; Registration; Accessibility Marine Guidelines; Etc.

Rentals, Marinas, Repairs, Emergency Contacts (Sheriff, US Coast Guard Aux.), etc.


1st Class Signs & Graphics... Get your boat lettering made here... Serving the Inland NW...208-699-5000


Marks Marine - OUTBOARD MOTORS 12620 - E Indiana Spokane, WA. 208-772-9038

Resort Boat Shop - FIBERGLASS & WOOD REPAIR, etc.  241 S Young Post Falls, ID...208-667-5009 - SAILBOAT, RIGGING, & ACCESSORIES - 406 W. Miles Ave. Hayden, ID. 208-704-4454


MacDonald’s Hudson Bay Resort - 14725 E Hudson Bay Rd., Byvw, ID. 208-683-2211


North Idaho Maritime - Lake CdA... 53 W Boekel Rd. Hydn, ID. 208-664-8215

KAYAKS - HOBIE ISLAND Sailing Kayaks/Sail Yaks. Visit and click on the Hobie Cat section. 208-704-4454 or visit


Bitter End Marina - "Sailboats only marina," Byvw, ID...208-683-2534

Blue Diamond Marina - 958 Blue Diamond Rd Coolin, ID...208-443-2240
Boardwalk Marine - Lake CdA, ID...208-415-5600

Bottle Bay Resort & Marina - 115 Resort Rd. Sdpt, ID...208-263-5916

Conkling Marina & Resort - 20 W Jerry Ln, Worley, ID...208-686-1151

Gozzer Ranch - Lake Coeur d'Alene, Prive Marina, Members only. CdA, ID. 208-765-9034 or 208-665-6600

Hayden Lake Marina - S Hayden Lake Rd Hydn Lk, ID...208-762-0181

Hope Marina & Services - 47392 HWY 200, Hope, ID...208-264-5105

Holiday Shores Resort & Marina - 46624 Hwy 200 East Hope, ID...208-264-5515

Scenic Bay Resort & Marina of Bayview - Byvw, ID...208-683-2243

Silver Beach Marine - Lake CdA... 208-415-5600

Loon Lake Marina - 41080 Marina Rd. Loon Lake, WA...509-233-2303

Low’s Resort - 6604 Jim Low Rd, Nordman, ID. (Priest Lk)...208-443-2631

MacDonald Hudson Bay Resort - Hudson Bay Rd. Byvw, ID.208-683-2211

Priest Lake Marina - 6516 W. Lakeshore Rd Prst Lk, ID...208-443-2405

Thompson Landing - Blackwell Isl. CdA, ID...208-664-8215

Yacht Club Sales & Service - S. 1000 Marina Dr. Blackwell Isl. CdA, ID...208-664-8274


FunToSAIL - Hobie Mirage Tandem Island or Hobie Wave catamaran sailboat on a trailer $175/day (rental per day rate only). Text 208-704-4454 or email

North Idaho College, Outdoor Pursuits -  Lake Coeur d'Alene Idaho. Hobie Wave catamaran sailboats $80/day Beach moorage available for small beach cats and light weight monohulls during the summer. From Memorial Day-Labor Day. Call 208-769-3290 

MacDonald's Hudson Bay Resort - Lake Pend Oreille, Bayview Idaho. Ranger 20' Keelboat sailboat for rent at Bayview Idaho. - Phone: 208-683-0661


Inland Northwest Sailors - Hayden Idaho - Primarily located in Kootenai and Spokane County but includes all counties of the Inland NW. This is a trailerable sailing club which includes mostly Hobie catamarans and Islands, and trailerable keelboats, and other small day-sailors. For more info email or visit

Sandpoint Sailing Association - Sandpoint Idaho - Keelboat club only, no small non-ballasted sailboats welcome. Has a large fleet of J-Boats. For more info visit

Lake Pend Oreille Yacht Club - Bayview Idaho - For large Keelboats only. For more info visit

Lewiston and Clarkston Sailing Club - Clarkston WA - Primarily a trailerable Keelboat club. For more info visit

Columbia Basin Sailing Club - Clarkston WA - Located in the Tri-Cities area of WA. Primarily sail Trailerable keelboats, small monohulls like the Fly Scouts, and Hobie's. For more info

Southern Idaho Sailing Association - Boise Idaho - Not located within the Inland NW. Primarily sails trailerable Keelboats, Hobie's, etc. For more info visit


Yager Sails and Canvas - 15117 E. 2nd, Spokane Valley, WA. 1-509-928-1964 Cell 1-509-939-6394.


Expert Marine Technology - 3350 N Old Atlas Rd, CdA, ID. 208-667-9838


North Idaho Maritime - Lake CdA... 53 W Boekel Rd. Hydn, ID. 208-664-8215

TRAILERS & HITCHES - Sailboat Trailers. 208-704-4454


Coeur d'Alene Crane & Construction Services - 337 S. Lawrence Str., Post Falls, ID. 208-666-1405

Expert Marine Technology - 3350 N. Old Atlas Rd CdA, ID. 208-667-9838

Resort Boat Shop - 241 S Young Pst Fls, ID...208-667-5009 208-704-4454

North Idaho Maritime - Lake CdA... 53 W Boekel Rd. Hydn, ID. 208-664-8215


Yager Sails and Canvas - 15117 E. 2nd, Spokane Valley, WA. 1-509-928-1964 Cell 1-509-939-6394

Hope Marine Services - 47392 HWY 200, Hope, ID. 208-264-5105

FunToSAIL - Hydn, ID. 208-704-4454 . We sell Hobie trampolines, after market trampolines, and other canvas products. All custom tramp and bimini work is referred to Hope Marine Services . Sails, sail covers, etc. are supplied by us via our many vendors.

EMERGENCY CONTACTS... Sheriff Marine Dept. and USCG Aux Fleets


State of Idaho Parks and Recreation

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

Benewah Sheriff (L. Coeur d’Alene, Heyburn St. Park, St. Maries & Plummer) 208-245-2555

Boundary Sheriff (McArthur Lake, Kootenai River, Bonners Ferry)

Bonner Sheriff (Pend Oreille Lake & River, City of Sandpoint)

208-263-8417 ext. 257 -

Clearwater Sheriff (Dworshak Res., Clear Water River, Orofino)

Kootenai Sheriff (Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Spokane & CdA Rivers)

208-446-2250 or 208-446-1300

Kootenai County Parks, Recreation and Waterways

Latah Sheriff (Moose Creek & Spring Valley/Reservoirs, Moscow and Potlatch). No Marine Division. 208-882-2216

Nez Perce Sheriff (Lewiston, Snake, Clearwater Rivers, Lewiston). No Marine Division

Shoshone Sheriff (Coeur d’Alene & St. Joe Rivers, Kellogg & Wallace) No Marine Division. 208-556-1114 This county has no marine patrol.

US Coast Guard Auxillary

District 8 Eastern WA., North Idaho, & Western Montana:

Coeur d’Alene Floatilla 84, 208-765-9668 (Kathy Goodwin); meets 2nd Fri. of ea. month.

Sandpoint Flotilla 87, 208-667-9377 (Mike Mattie) meets 2nd Thu. of ea. month.


Washington State Parks and Recreation

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Washington State Department of Natural Resources

Adams Sheriff (Sprague & 4th of July Lakes, Ritzville & Othello). No Marine Division

Chelan Sheriff, 401 Washington St., Lower Level 1, Wenatchee, WA 98801. 509-667-6851

Douglas Sheriff (Columbia River, E. Wenatchee, Bridgeport) 509-884-0941 / 509-884-1535

Franklin Sheriff (Columbia & Snake Rivers, Pasco)

Grant Sheriff (Coulee Dam, Columbia R., Pot Holes Res., Moses, Banks, Sun L.) 800-572-0119 ext 468 or 509-754-2011 ext 468

Lincoln Sheriff (L. Roosevelt, Spokane, Sprague, Fishtrap Lakes) 509-725-3501 / Sprague 509-725-3501

Pend Oreille Sheriff (Pend Oreille R., Diamond & Sullivan Lakes) 509-447-3151 or 800-669-3407

Spokane Sheriff, Marine Enforcement Division. W.1121 Gardner. Spokane, WA 99201. (Spokane R. & Lake, Liberty & Newman Lakes) 509-477-7608

 (N. area of Lake Roosevelt & N. side of Spokane Lake). No info at this time.

Stevens Sheriff (L. Roosevelt, Spokane, Deer, & Loon L, Spokane R., Colville) 509-684-5296

Whitman Sheriff (Rock Lake & Snake River, Colfax & Pullman). 509-397-6266

US Coast Guard Auxillary

USCG Recruiting Office E. 11516A Sprague Spokane WA. 509-927-0993

District 8 Eastern WA., North Idaho, & Western Montana:

North Spokane Flotilla 81: 509-326-1295 / email

Spokane Valley Flotilla 82: 509-710-0998

Tri-Cities Fleet 85: 509-543-4959 or 509-628-4855

U.S. Coast Guard Recruiting Office. 11516-A E. Sprague St., Spokane, WA 99206: (509) 927-0993

Spokane Sail & Power Squadron, A Unit of U. S. Power Squadrons
929 W. Jackson, Spokane, WA 99205: 509-328-6165 or 509-324-3588


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks or

Flathead Sheriff (N. end of Flathead L, Whitefish L.) 800 South Main Street, Kalispell, MT 59901. 406) 758-5585

Lakes Sheriff (Mid & S. end of Flathead L.) 106 4th Ave E. Polson, MT 59860. 406-883-7301 /

Lincoln/Libby Sheriff (Koocanusa & Bull Lakes, Kootenai River, Libby). No Marine Division. 406-293-4112

Mineral Sheriff (Bitterroot River. Lots of Alpine Lakes, St. Regis). No Marine Division. 406-822-3555

Missoula Sheriff (Placid, Salmon, Seeley, Lindbergh Lakes, Missoula). No Marine Division. 406-258-4810

Sanders Sheriff (Noxon & Cabinet Gorge Res., Clark Fork R., Thompson Falls). No Marine Division. 406-827-3584, 406-827-4171

Coast Guard Aux.


District 8 Eastern WA., North Idaho, & Western Montana:



ALL boaters should take a boater safety course or equivalent. All state boater safety courses are primarily focused on power boating as many states, including Washington State, require boaters utilizing boats with motors with a hp of 15 or greater to have a current safe boating license. Currently, neither Idaho or Montana require safe boating licenses.

Idaho Laws/Rules: Although there is no state-wide law specifying a minimum age to operate a vessel, all operators must be competent and are held responsible for knowing the navigation rules. In addition, there are local age regulations. Be sure to contact counties and cities where you plan to boat about local ordinances.

Idaho law requires boater education under these conditions:

-   Personal watercraft (PWC) rental businesses must provide education to each person who will ride and operate a PWC. The operator of the PWC must carry  a verification wallet card. The Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation provides the educational materials to rental businesses.

-   In addition to penalties, boaters are required to pass a boating course if they are convicted of operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

-   Boaters who are repeat offenders of any boating law or rule are also required to pass a boating course.


You must have an Idaho Certificate of Registration and validation stickers to operate your vessel legally on Idaho waters. The only exceptions are:

-   Manually propelled vessels (for example, canoes, rafts, and kayaks)

-   Float tubes (single inner tube construction with or without a motor)

-   Sailboards

-   Vessels properly registered in another state and on Idaho waters for 60 or fewer consecutive days.

-   Vessels documented with the U.S. Coast Guard


As of January 1, 2000, the following vessels must be titled - Any vessel with a permanently attached mode of propulsion and model year 2000 or newer (for example: inboards, stern drives, PWCs, and sailboats). Vessels over 12 feet in length with an outboard motor or sail power.

BOAT SAFETY COURSE INFO: Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
2750 Kathleen Ave., Ste. 1, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83815. Tel. 208-769-1511., & online courses @



-   Speed Limit on Lakes: Day - 50 mph; Night - 20 mph.

-   Speed Limit on Rivers: Day - 35 mph; Night - 20 mph.

-   No Wake Zone (5 mph) on Lakes: Within 200' of shoreline, dock, pier, bridge, breakwater or person in water.

-   No Wake Zone on Rivers: 100'. Bonner County Within 50' of any other vessel shall be no wake.

-   Adult supervision is required when an operator of a boat or other vessel is between the ages of 10 to 14 unless the motor is 10 horsepower or less, and personal water craft of any horse power.

-   Children aged 14 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when they are aboard a vessel 19' long or less when the vessel is underway or under power. This applies to manually propelled boats as well as motorboats.


-   Within one hundred (100') feet of any other vessel, the speed shall be reasonable and prudent, but not in excess of fifteen (15) miles per hour.


BOAT NOISEAll vessels shall meet requirements for engine and hull noise when operating on the waters of Idaho. They shall be equipped with an effective, permanently installed muffling system which cannot be bypassed. Vessels built before January 1, 1995 shall not exceed 90dB(A) using the stationary test, and those built after that date shall not exceed 88dB.


Currently Idaho is the only state within the Inland NW with laws you must abide related to water based invasive species. Please visit the Idaho state website at to stay current related to laws and policies. In Idaho all water craft must have an invasive species sticker displayed (you will get a ticket if you do not have it). Only exception is water craft registered in Idaho. Idaho registration and thus the hull registration sticker counts as an invasive species sticker. On most major roads entering Idaho there is a invasive species check station that one is required by law to stop at to insure your boat does not have an invasive species attached.

Specific tips how to keep your watercraft free of invasive species.

-   Inspect: Inspect all exposed surfaces - small mussels feel like sandpaper.

-   Wash: Wash the boat thoroughly with high pressure/hot water.

-   Remove: Remove all plant and animal material.

-   Drain: Drain all water and dry all areas.

-   Dispose: Dispose of all bait.

-   Wait: Wait five days and keep boat dry between launches.

Idaho's invasive species website (can also buy your sticker on this site)


The Legal Requirements of Boating - Who May Operate a Vessel?

Those 12 years of age and younger: May not legally operate any motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft) unless accompanied by someone who is at least 18 years old.

Those 13 to 14 years of age: May legally operate a motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft) only if they:

-   Possess a valid Montana motorboat operator’s safety certificate or have evidence of completing an approved boating safety course, or...

-   Are accompanied by a person 18 years old or older.

-   A person must be at least 18 years old to rent a motorized vessel over 10 horsepower (including personal watercraft).

Motorboat Operator's Safe Boating Certificate - Operators required to have a boater education certificate (currently only those 13-14 are required to have a license when boating without an adult in boats with 10 hp motors or more) must carry it on board the vessel. These certificates are obtained by passing a boating safety course approved by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

REGISTRATION: Sailboats 12 feet long and longer and all motorboats and personal watercraft must be registered and numbered. Non-motorized sailboats less than 12 feet long and manually propelled boats, regardless of length, and exempt from registration and taxation. Additional exemptions include: vessel's lifeboat, government owned boats, and properly registered boats from out of state or country which will not be in Montana for more than 90 consecutive days. Out-of-state boats used in Montana for more than 90 consecutive days must be registered at the county treasurer's office in the county where the boat will be principally used.

TITLE: All vessels that require registration must also be titled in Montana. You must apply for a title within 40 days of the purchase or transfer.

BOAT SAFETY COURSE INFO: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; 1420 E 6th Avenue
Helena, MT 59620-0701. 406-444-2535. & online courses @

INVASIVE SPECIES LAWS & POLICIES: Currently Montana has no invasive species laws related to water based activity. Stay tuned as rumor is they are working on it. Visit Montana's website to keep up to date at


Legal Requirements of Boating - Who May Operate a Vessel?

-   You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a personal watercraft legally.

-   It is illegal to lease, hire, or rent a personal watercraft to anyone under 16 years of age.

-   Future requirements have been set by a Washington boating safety education law that was passed in 2005. This new law will be phased in so that all boaters, unless exempted, must obtain a Washington boater education card by January 1, 2014. The new law requires the following:

No one may operate or permit the operation of a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more, including a personal watercraft, unless the operator:

-   Is at least 12 years of age if the vessel is not a personal watercraft or is at least 14 years of age if the vessel is a personal watercraft and ... The person has in his or her possession a boater education card (if required) or ...

-   Is accompanied by and is under the direct supervision of a person at least 16 years of age who has a boater education card or who is not yet required to have the card.

The phase-in schedule by age group for completing the mandatory boater safety education to obtain a card is as follows. When do I need a card? 2008 AGE 20, 2009 AGE 25; 2010 AGE 30; 2011 AGE 35; 2012 AGE 50; 2013 AGE 50; 2014 AGE 59. Persons required to have a Boater Education Card must carry it on board whenever operating.

Persons exempted from the phased-in mandatory boater safety education requirement include:

-   Any person born before January 1, 1955

-   Any person who is renting, chartering, or leasing a power-driven vessel with an engine that is 15 horsepower or more (other than a personal watercraft) and who completes an approved motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist

-   Any person at least 16 years of age who is renting, chartering, or leasing a personal watercraft and who completes an approved motor vessel safety operating and equipment checklist

-   Any person who is a non-resident and who operates on Washington waters for 60 consecutive days or fewer

-   Any person who is a non-resident and holds a current, approved out-of-state or out-of-country certificate or card

-   Any person who has purchased the vessel within the last 60 days and has a bill of sale in his or her possession

-   Operators of commercial, law enforcement, or government vessels and persons with a USCG captain’s license

-   Operators involved in practicing for or participating in a permitted marine event.

BOAT SAFETY COURSE INFO: Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. 7150 Clearwater Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504-2650. 360-586-6592/1-800-336-2628. & online courses @

INVASIVE SPECIES LAWS & POLICIES: Currently Washington has no invasive species laws related to water based activity. Stay tuned as rumor is they are working on it. Visit Montana's website to keep up to date at


FLOAT PLAN – Float Plans are essential in enabling rescue personal to find you in case of emergency. A Float Plan is as simple as telling a reliable friend or family member when and where you plan to boat. It is best to write out your plan and post it on your refrigerator or in a visible place that a friend or family member can see. Information on a float plan include but are not limited to where you plan to go, when you expect to return, if your trailering - where you plan to leave your vehicle and trailer, description of your vessel with hull registration numbers, and other identifiable info.

FIRST AID – It is recommended that you take a first aid course to prepare for unforeseen incidents while boating. Contact your local Hospital or College for First Aid course availability. Of course your boat should be equipped with a marine first aid kit and safety equipment.

WEATHER – You must always check the weather before setting out on a boating trip to check winds and other predicted conditions. You can check the weather online or via your local weather TV and/or radio stations. The Weather service broadcast weather reports via 162.400, 162.475, and 162.550 MHz in areas where this service is available. In the Inland NW storm advisories are not displayed via flags or lights.

WEATHER WEBSITES: Go to local National Weather Service phone # @ 509-244-0110 Weather bug is less detailed than NOAA but does have local weather stations and is better than weather underground Private citizens can also create a local weather station that is reported online such as LIVE BAYVIEW WEATHER REPORT - Create your own weather station online via your personal weather gear @

RADIO FREQUENCIES AND PROCEDURES: Contained here are most of the marine channels and phone numbers for the Inland NW. When boating please check with the local law enforcement for current emergency numbers and frequencies to insure you have the current information.

Transmitter Location     Call Sign     Frequency

Bonner Ferry, ID.          WWG-99     162.500

Lewiston, ID.               WXK-98      162.550

Spokane, WA.              WXL-86      162.400

Wenatchee, WA.          WXM-48     162.475

NWR three main frequencies            162.4, 162.475, 162.55 MHz

Marine Radio and Distress Procedures: When in distress or observing a distress situation on the water or near land call via your VHF, channel 16 and say “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY THIS IS and state your vessels name and registration numbers, repeated 3 times.

If you are onboard a vessel that is in distress/trouble; DO the following:

1.   State your name, WHO you are and vessel registration numbers

2.   Next state WHERE you are located via latitude and longitude or a true bearing in nautical miles from a well known geographical point. If you do not know this type of info try to give as exact info as possible.

3.   State WHAT is exactly wrong.

4.   Indicate WHAT type of assistance you need.

5.   Indicate the condition of the injured if any and how many persons are on board.

6.   Indicate the condition of your vessels seaworthiness.

7.   Describe your vessel in detail – type (sail or power), length, cabin, color of hull and/or sail, any unique features that make your boat stand out.

8.   The frequency you are listening to and your schedule.

If you are observing a boat in distress/trouble or issue on shore; DO the following:

1.   Give your position and if possible the position of the boat in distress.

2.   Give WHAT is exactly wrong.

3.   Describe the vessel in distress or issue on shore.

4.   Your intention to help, your speed and course.

5.   The call signal you are using, the name of your vessel, listening frequency, and your schedule.

When needing information or assistance from the Marine Division of the Sheriffs Department when NOT in distress use Channel 13. Some sheriff departments do not have marine divisions. The Inland NW area does not have the Coast Guard so the Sheriff departments of each counties handle marina issues, etc. After making such contact you will normally be shifted to a working channel such as channels 21-23, which move you away from the distress signal to keep it clear for emergencies.

Channel 13 is a general vessel communication channel.

Channel 16 is an emergency/distress channel ONLY (similar to 911).

Radio Checks: It is prohibited to use channel 16 for radio checks. 

PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICES (PFD’S): All boats must carry on board at least one Coast Guard approved (type I, II, III, V) PFD per person. Violation of not carrying enough PFD’s on board results in breaking State and Federal laws.

PFD & Flotation Requirements:

- Canoes & Kayaks of any length and boats under 16 feet must carry one PFD for each person (type I, II, III, or V)

- Boats 16 feet or more in length must carry one throw able (Type IV) and one PFD for each person on board (type I, II, III, V). It is highly recommended you carry more than one throw able on board so when a person falls overboard you can get one to the person in the water and more to litter the water so it is easier to spot the person overboard.
FIRE EXTINGUISHERS: There are 3 approved fire extinguisher types for marine use: Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Dry Chemical, and Halon. Foam, Carbon Tetrachloride, Chlorobromomethane, and other TOXIC vaporizing-liquid extinguishers are not approved for marine use.

All fire extinguishers MUST be kept in excellent and serviceable condition and be readily available in the event of a fire. Fire Extinguishers must not be kept near fire sources on your boat.

If you put a gas powered motor on your boat whether it’s a canoe or small dingy you must meet the less than 26 ft. requirement for on board fire extinguisher.
RUNNING LIGHTS: Running lights are essential for safe boating between sunset and sunrise and are required by law. Sailboats under motor power, whether sails are up or not, are considered a powerboat and must display the appropriate lighting.

Vessels under motor power:

All boats – Box 1 & 2 OR Less than 39 feet 5 Inches (12 meters) Box 1, 2, OR 3

INLAND WATER ONLY: May exhibit an all-around white light aft & sidelights.

Vessels under sail or oar/paddle power:

Under sail power only – Boxes 4,5,6,7

Under sail power only & Under 23 feet in length (7 meters) – If practicable Box 4,5,6 OR 7 used in sufficient time to prevent collision.

Under sail power with oars; Under Oar or Paddle Power – Box 7 used in sufficient time to prevent collision.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION: Within the Inland NW and throughout the country, there is a Lateral System (Federal) of buoys and markers via colors, numbers, shapes, and lights for safe navigation - day or night.

Red buoys are passed on the starboard (right) side of your boat when proceeding up stream or into port (Red Right Returning). Green buoys are passed on the port (left) side of your boat when going down stream or leaving a port. Green buoys are numbered with odd numbers and red with even numbers. Marking the center of a cannel is done with Red & White vertically stripped buoys.

ATTENTION mooring to any federal or state navigation systems buoys or marks is prohibited.

-   Starboard Buoys are red with red fixed or flashing lights.

-   Port Buoys are green with green fixed or flashing lights.

-   Safe Water Buoys are red and white vertical stripes, with flashing lights. Also called approach, Fairway, mid channel buoys.

-   Favored/Preferred/Junction Channel Buoys are red and green horizontal stripes, with flashing light.

-   Special Marks are yellow with fixed or flashing light if it is lighted. Types of usage include regatta marks, dredging, anchorage area, etc.
NAVIGATION RULES: Just like there are rules that govern how you drive your car there are also “Rules of the Road” for boating on the water. All boats 39.5 feet in length (12 meters) and over must carry the current copy of the Coast Guard Navigation Rules International & Inland book on board (good to have on any boat). You can order this book by calling SAIL Marine @ 208-762-7110 with the reference number of 050-012-00287-8.

It is the responsibility of a boater to follow the “Rules of the Road” at all times but special circumstances may merit a boater to deviate from the rules to avoid immediate danger. Negligent operation of a boat will result in heavy fines and more.

Sound Signals – Via the Inland Rules, boats must signal their intentions via whistles and horn signals to alter course. When and if a vessel agrees to the signal, they in turn repeat the signal or give the distress signal via 5 short blasts. Sound signals are not needed if you know for a fact that you are communicating with the vessel via channel 13 and are in agreement to your maneuvers.  Sound signals prevail over radio contact when not in agreement or when unsure of the boat you are in contact with. The following are sound signals that vessels within sight of each other use for safe navigation:

-   One Short Blast (1 sec.): I intend to leave you on my Port side (altering my course to Starboard/Right).

-   Two Short Blasts: I intent to leave you on my Starboard side (altering my course to Port/Left).

-   Three Short Blasts: Vessels engines are in reverse.

-   Five or more Short and Rapid Blasts of a whistle or horn: Danger/Doubt; Used when a vessels course or

     intention is unknown, or dangers are probable etc.

-   Prolonged Blast (4-6 sec.): indicates restricted visibility or maneuverability

-   One Prolonged Blast (4-6) followed by one short blast: request to open drawbridge

Sound Signals in Fog or Restricted Visibility – Prolonged sound blasts in fog or restricted visibility are of a duration of 4-6 seconds and short blasts are 1 second long. A vessel must sound a horn or whistle every two minutes or less in a specific pattern to make their position and type of movement known. The type and pattern of blasts used in fog or restricted visibility depend upon the type of vessel being operated. See chart bellow.

See Horn Signals in above diagram/pic

RULES OF THE ROAD: Meeting or Crossing Situations – When boats are coming head on to each other it is necessary to pass safely by giving your intent of direction (port or starboard). One short blast indicates you will move to Starboard (right) and leave the oncoming boat to Port (left). Two Short Blasts indicate you are moving to Port (Left) and leaving the oncoming boat to Starboard (right). Two blasts also indicate you are operating astern propulsion (a motor). The other boat that has not yet sounded needs to follow up in agreement with the same signal to a make safe passage. If the proposed course is not agreed upon due to safety issues then the boats will take effective action to insure safe passage.

Head On Situation – Each boat should signal with one short blast to move to Starboard and pass each other on Port (Left).

Crossing Situation – In a crossing situation the boat that has the other boat on its starboard shall give-way and the starboard boat (stand-on vessels/the boat that has the right-of-way) shall hold its course until clear of the give-way vessel. Sailboats on Starboard tack (with wind hitting the right side of the boat) have right away over Port (left) tack boats. Boats that have the right-of-way (the stand-on-vessel) must avoid a collision or danger if its clear that the give-way vessel is not taking appropriate action.

Overtaking – When boats are going the same direction and the boat astern wants to pass the boat ahead, the boat overtaking will give one short blast (move to Starboard) indicating its intent to pass the other vessel on its Starboard (right) side. If the desire is to pass to the Port the over taking vessels will give 2 short blasts (move to Port) and pass the other vessel on its Port (left). In all cases the boat being passed shall reply with the same sound signal or should answer with five short blasts indicating danger, not safe to pass.

Windward versus Leeward - This rule applies to a sailboat passing another sailboat. In a similar situation when two sailboats are converging on each other the Leeward boat (boat down wind) has right-of-way over the Windward boat (boat up wind). The windward boat must let the leeward boat pass when coming into close proximity of each other. Also applies to sailboats on the same tack... such as two sailboats both on starboard, the leeward boat has right away.

Starboard versus Port - Starboard boat has the right away... the wind is hitting the right/starboard side of the boat, thus the boat is on starboard tack. The port tack boat... wind is hitting the left/port side of the boat does not have the right away.

OTHER SITUATIONS: Obviously there are many other situations that boats will encounter which will require other maneuvers. Below are other possible situations:

-   Muscle powered boats have the right-of-way over all other vessels except for large vessels limited by maneuverability and draft and commercial vessels while fishing.

-   Sailboats under sail power have the right-of-way over motor powered vessels at all times except for large vessels limited by maneuverability and draft, commercial vessels while fishing, muscle powered vessels such as kayaks and canoes.

-   Large vessels in narrow channels limited by their draft and maneuverability must not be hampered with by more maneuverable and shallower draft boats.

-   Boats will stay to the starboard (right) side of the channel when not marked by Lateral Aids and when safe to do so.



Boat condition and loading – An operator must make sure that their boat is in excellent condition with no loose bolts, sharp edges, structural weak cracks, etc. Before towing your boat make sure the overall weight of your boat with trailer and gear does not exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle. Caution – When trailering your stopping distance will be increased, as well as the time it takes to pass. When going around corners your turning radius will increase due to over all length of the vehicle and trailer.

Trailer Types - First you must have the correct trailer for your boat type, i.e. sailboat trailers for sailboats, etc. The right trailer should support the boat structurally from bow to stern with the weight of the boat equally distributed. Hull rollers, cradles, and bolsters must be kept in good condition to protect the hull from damage. Note - If you load your boat with gear, etc. you also need to make sure it is equally distributed as well so as not to over load the tongue of the trailer and or the trailer wheels. All trailers should have capacity plates; so make sure your boat does not exceed the capacity of the trailer which includes the additional weight of your gear and motor. If a capacity plate is not visible call or stop by a trailer manufacturer to determine if the trailer is right for your boats weight, etc.

Tongue & Chains - Make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for your trailer tongue coupling process. It is imperative that you properly connect your trailer to your hitch and have the right ball size for the coupler. It is also the law to cross the safety chains when connecting them to your vehicle.

Tie downs - Ropes, and Lower motor supports must all be in place to ensure the boat is not bouncing or slipping off the trailer. Tie downs are an excellent choice to tie your boat down to the trailer but beware of low strength straps and ratchets as the cheap kinds are likely to fail. Tying down your boat with ropes is also a good choice so long as you know how to tie superb knots and the ropes are of sufficient strength. If your boat has a bow eye make sure it is secured to the trailer. Additional straps/ropes may be needed to secure your motor and rigging.

Capacity - Before towing your boat make sure the overall weight of your boat with trailer and gear does not exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle. The towing capacity of your vehicle must include the weight of the people in the vehicle plus the weight of the gear in your vehicle. Contact the vehicle manufacturer for correct capacity information related to not only the motor but also to the transmission, brakes, etc. Depending on your vehicle a load bearing hitch and larger cooling system may need to be added to your vehicle.

The boat should never be over loaded or have more people on board than the capacity plate indicates is appropriate for the vessel. If your boat has no capacity plate then the following formula must apply for calm waters: Maximum # of People = length (feet) of Boat X width/15, assuming that each person weighs about 150 lbs. Adjustments should be made if this assumption is incorrect.

On the Road – Before going on the road with your boat you should first check your brakes and determine how long it would take to stop quickly. The best place to check the brakes is in a big parking lot or low traveled back road. Drive and progressively go faster (in a safe manner), stopping at various speeds to determine your stopping distances. During this time you can check to make sure you have proper mirrors to see down each side of the boat. If not, purchase the proper mirrors before hitting the road. There are many simple mirror extensions available. Also check and make sure all your lights work, particularly your brake lights. Make sure your ball and coupler are the same size and that the bolts and washers are tight. Make sure your ball is completely covered by the Coupler and is locked in place. Too much weight on the rear of the trailer can make you fish tail and too much weight on the hitch can make steering difficult, and so on. And finally make sure to attach and crisis-cross the Safety Chains so that if the trailer were to break free from you vehicle, the trailer would still pull straight behind your vehicle until you can safely stop and the coupler would not drag on the road. Regularly check tires for proper inflation and bearings each time they are immersed in the water.

Caution in towing – When trailering your stopping distance will be increased, as well as time to pass. When going around corners your turning radius will increase due to over all length of the vehicle and trailer.

LAUNCHING: Wait your turn, it is a first come first serve kind of thing... Prepare boat in the parking lot before you back down the ramp.  This includes installing transom plug, raising Bimini top, loading gear, placing fenders, readying dock lines, checking fuel, finding key and turning on battery switch. Do all this in advance to take the least amount of time at the bottom of the ramp.

Before getting in position to launch your boat down the ramp check the boat for the following:

-   Make sure all wanted gear is in the boat.

-   Check for damage caused while trailering.

-   Raise your motor or lower unit to make sure it does not drag while launching. Sailboats – rig and step mast before entering launch ramp. If you can not step the mast before going into the water, move your boat out of the way of the launch area while in the water to step the mast in a safe calm area.

-   If applicable, sailors extend your extendable tongue on level ground before backing down a ramp.

-   Remove tie downs/ropes/straps and make sure bow eye is still attached to trailer via strap/rope before launching.

-   Make sure bow and stern lines are attached to the boat so that once the boat leaves the trailer you can easily handle the boat.

-   Check the boat launch for length of paved launch pad (if present) and drop offs, boulders, etc. If it’s a cold time of  the year check for ice. An icy boat launch can be near impossible to retrieve a boat from as boat launches tend to be  a little slippery in the first place due to marine biological build up, and the steepness of some boat launches. Make sure you have snow chains as 4 wheel drive will not guarantee traction.

-   Once everything has been checked twice or more it is best to have one person in the boat and another person beside the boat guiding the driver down the ramp. If you are solo launching then extra caution and a slow descent down the ramp is appropriate. It’s a good idea to check the boat a couple of times when soloing down the ramp to insure its not slipping off the trailer, etc. Don’t let other inpatient boaters push you into hurrying and making mistakes.

-   It is best but not always possible to keep rear wheels and exhaust pipe out of the water. If the exhaust pipes become immersed the vehicle could stall.

-   Unplug your lights from your vehicle. This allows the lights to cool before going into cold water. Hot light bulbs immersed in cold water will die! This may not apply to LED lights.

-   When stopped set the parking brake and put tire chocks in place.

-   Insure that someone on shore is holding the boat in place via the bow and stern lines. Letting one line or the other loose could result in one end of the boat swinging out from the dock blocking the ramp and creating possible risk to the boat and individuals. When launching solo, slowly back your boat into the water and as soon as it starts to float (not actually floating off the trailer totally) walk your boat off the trailer to a position that is out of the way of other boats as much as possible.

-   Lower the motor and prepare to start the engine. Check for fuel leaks, other issues, and run the blowers. Sailors make sure all your necessary rigging, sails, gear, etc. is on board.

-   Start the motor and make sure the water is coming out of the cooling exhaust, which indicates the cooling system is working.


-   Release the winch hook from the boat and walk the boat to the end of the ramp out of the way from boats launching and returning.

LOADING: When retrieving the boat back onto your trailer reverse steps of launching your boat. Move your boat up toward the ramp, raise your motor (on sailboats - raise your boards/keel and be sure all lines are on board. Sailors, also make sure your sails are down and secured to your boat or stored). Secure the boat to the trailer at the bow winch and attach straps and lines as appropriate. Drive the boat and trailer to the launch parking area to further secure the boat to the trailer, de-rig, clean up, check for invasive plant and aquatic life, and go through safety check list. It is best to practice readying and launching your boat at your home prior to actually launching. For new sailors it is particularly important to practice rigging your boat before truly launching the boat. Safety should be your main concern.

Before traveling down the road check your boat, trailer, and even your vehicle for milfoil weeds, plants, small snails and/or crabs, etc. - There are many types of invasive weeds and animals that may hitch a ride, so make sure to clear off all such items. Some boat launches now have a place where you can wash your boat, etc. to rid it of any weeds and critters. Washington State is getting tough on boaters who do not check their boats with a fine or even jail time.

STORING: Cover the boat via a tarp or shirk wrap it. Also put blocks under the tongue and four corners of the trailer to take pressure off the wheels. Sailors should store their sails in a dry area and not leave them on the boat during the winter and wet weather.

Power lines can potentially pose a threat to life and limb if you do not keep from contacting them. Sailboats as well as boats with long antennas can contact a power line sending high voltage through the boat and potentially through you. Most boat launches have no power lines over them, but some do. Private boat launches in particular do not have to meet state and federal requirements so the potential for over head power lines is common. Make sure to always check for power lines especially if you are launching a sailboat. Never assume that electrical lines are not present even if you can not see any, as lines can sometimes be hidden in tree limbs and other locations not easily seen. Watch for unauthorized power lines around private docks. Also be aware of power lines under bridges and across channels. In any case be safe by staying alert to potential power lines issues.


“Whenever a door is closed to anyone because of a disability, we must work to open it.... Whenever any barrier stands between you and the full rights and dignity of citizenship, we must work to remove it, in the name of simple decency and justice. The promise of the ADA...has enabled people with disabilities to enjoy much greater access to a wide range of affordable travel, recreational opportunities and life-enriching services.” President George W. Bush, New Freedom Initiative, February 1, 2001 

This information has been developed and reviewed in accordance with the (ADA) Access Board’s information quality guidelines (

Accessibility Guidelines for Recreation Marine Facilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA requires that newly constructed and altered state and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities be readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) is the standard applied to buildings and facilities. Recreational facilities, including boating facilities, are among the facilities required to comply with the ADA.

The Access Board issued accessibility guidelines for newly constructed and altered recreation facilities in 2002. The recreation facility guidelines are a supplement to ADAAG. As a supplement, they must be used in conjunction with ADAAG. References to ADAAG are mentioned throughout this summary. Once these guidelines are adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), all newly designed, constructed and altered recreation facilities covered by the ADA will be required to comply.

Access To Outdoors has altered the ADAAG guidelines to include just boating facilities, but has also added new developments that enhance accessibility at boating facilities, such as chutes and lifts. The recreation boating facility guidelines supplied here cover the following boating and marine-based facilities and elements:

■ Boating facilities ■ Platforms and fishing piers ■ Chutes and Lifts

This altered guide is intended to help designers and operators in using the accessibility guidelines for boating facilities with assistance from Access To Outdoors. These guidelines establish minimum accessibility requirements for newly designed or newly constructed and altered boating facilities. This guide is not a collection of boating facility designs. Rather, it provides specifications for elements within a boating facility to create a general level of usability for individuals with disabilities. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that individuals with disabilities are generally able to access the boating facility and use a variety of elements. Designers and operators are encouraged to exceed the guidelines (Access To Outdoors can help you do this in a beneficial and cost effective way) where possible to provide increased accessibility and opportunities. Incorporating accessibility into the design of a boating facility should begin early in the planning process with careful consideration to accessible routes.

The recreation facility guidelines were developed with significant public participation. In 1993, the Access Board established an advisory committee of 27 members to recommend accessibility guidelines for recreation facilities, followed by a public input period. Final rules was published in September 2002.

Boating Facilities

The recreation facility guidelines described in this guide focus on newly designed or newly constructed and altered boating facilities. Other provisions contained in ADAAG address elements commonly found at a boating facility, such as accessible vehicle parking spaces, exterior accessible routes, and toilet and bathing facilities. ADAAG addresses only the built environment (structures and grounds). The guidelines do not address operational issues of a facility.

Recreational boating facilities can include fixed and floating facilities. Facilities can vary in size from one boat slip (for example, at a small campground facility) to several thousand slips, and can handle boats ranging in size from small canoes to large sailboats and powerboats. Facilities may be located in the same waterfront area or even in the same site (such as a State park with a large lake) and include marinas, launching facilities, piers, and docks that are designed for recreational use.

These guidelines do not cover the design of passenger vessels or ferry docks, and do not address access on and off passenger vessels. These issues will be addressed in future rule-making for passenger vessels by the ADAAG.

Accessible Routes

ADAAG requires that at least one accessible route connect accessible buildings, facilities, elements, and spaces on a site. Accessible boat slips, accessible boarding piers at boat launch ramps, and other accessible spaces and elements within a boating facility must also be connected by an accessible route. The accessible route must comply with ADAAG provisions for the location, width (minimum of 36 inches. 48 inches to 60 inches is preferred), passing space, head room, surface, slope (maximum of 1:12 or 8.33%), changes in level, doors, egress, and areas of rescue assistance, unless otherwise modified by specific provisions outlined in this guide. It is recommended that paths be as straight as possible, particularly if a wheelchair user has to transport ones craft solo.

A gangway is a variable-sloped pedestrian walkway linking a fixed structure or land with a floating structure. Where gangways are provided as part of accessible routes to connect accessible boat slips on floating piers, the following exceptions to the ADAAG accessible route provisions have been included in the guidelines to deal with the varying water level changes and other factors in this dynamic environment. Designers and operators should note that there are no exceptions to the accessible route requirements where the accessible route connects fixed piers to land or other fixed structures.
Gangway Slope and Rise Exceptions

Gangways designed for the least possible slope will provide more independent access for persons with disabilities. As a minimum however, gangways must be designed to provide for a maximum 1:12 (8.33%) slope but are not required to be longer than 80 feet in length. For example, if the vertical distance between where the gangway departs the land-side/shore connection and the elevation of the pier surface at the lowest water level is 10 feet, the gangway would have to be at least 80 feet long. As water levels rise and fall, gangway slopes also rise and fall. At times, this gangway slope may be less than 1:20 (5%) and at other times it may be more than 1:12 (8.33%). In smaller facilities with less than 25 boat slips, the slope of the gangway may exceed 1:12 (8.33%), if the gangway is at least 30 feet long.

The maximum rise requirements in ADAAG do not apply to gangways. As a result, no intermediate landings on the gangways are required and gangways may be any length.

The gangway slope and rise exceptions do not apply to other sloped walking surfaces that may be part of the accessible route. For example, where a non-gangway sloped walking surface greater than 1:20 (5%) is provided as part of an accessible route connecting accessible spaces of a boating facility, it must comply with ADAAG slope and rise requirements. This would include a ramp connecting a fixed pier or a float with fixed switchback ramps.

Gangway Alterations

Gangways on existing boating facilities may be repaired or replaced without triggering the requirement to increase the gangway length. However, if the areas altered contain primary functions (such as a boat slip or boat dock), existing gangways are considered part of the path of travel to the altered primary function area and must be made accessible, if the cost to do so is not disproportionate. The Department of Justice has determined that it is not disproportionate to spend up to an additional 20 percent of the overall costs of alterations to the primary function areas to make the path of travel accessible.

Transition Plates

Transition plates are sloping pedestrian walking surfaces located at the end of a gangway. Gangways are not required to have landings at the end, if transition plates are provided. If the slope of a transition plate is greater than 1:20 (5%), the transition plate must have a landing at the non-gangway end of the transition plate and comply with other ADAAG ramp requirements.

Handrail Extensions

ADAAG addresses handrail height, diameter, and extensions provided to the end of the gangway. Other specifications regarding vertical supports are not addressed by ADDAG, but may be addressed in local building codes. Handrail extensions are not required where gangways and transition plates connect and both are provided with handrails. ADAAG does not require handrails on sloped surfaces that have a rise of less than 6 inches or a projection less than 72 inches, or a slope of 1:20 (5%) or less. Where handrail extensions are provided, they do not need to be parallel with the ground or floor surface, since the surface may be moving due to water conditions.

Cross Slope

The cross slopes of gangways, transition plates and floating piers that are part of an accessible route must be designed and constructed to not exceed a maximum of 2 percent (1:50). Gangways and piers that are part of an accessible route are expected to be designed and constructed to meet the 2 percent requirement. Once placed in the water, measurements, absent live loads, are to be made from a static condition (i.e., absence of movement that results from wind, waves, etc.). Where floating piers are grounded out due to low water conditions, slope requirements would not apply.

Elevators and Platform Lifts

In addition to regular elevators, limited use/limited application elevators (smaller, slower elevators used for low-traffic, low-rise facilities) or platform lifts that comply with ADAAG may be used instead of gangways as part of an accessible route connecting floating piers.

Lifts and cranes that give access to boats and directly into the water are not required by the ADAAG rules but greatly enhance access, should be considered where and when possible.

Direct Water Access Ramp (DWAR)

Direct Water Access Ramp (DWAR) gives a person who uses a wheelchair for mobility direct access to the water, away from motorized boats. This is a commonly overlooked item at most boating facilities, because currently such a path is not required by the ADAAG rules. A DWAP is similar to a boat launch that is 48 inches to preferably 60 inches wide or more, with no greater scope than 8.33%. The ramps end at the waters edge should be at least 60 inches in and under the water. It should be made of a materiel that does not allow wave action to erode or displace, and is easy for a wheelchair to roll on. A boat launch should never be used as DWAR, due to the danger of motorized boats with propellers being near a person. DWAR's are used for accessing the water to cool off, swim, or access ones kayak/canoe.

Transfer Systems... for small crafts, i.e. Kayaks, Canoes, small sailboats

One of the big challenges for persons without the use of their legs, persons with balance issues, etc. is getting in and out of their water crafts. A Transfer Bench/Station is a system that is level with a wheelchair seat, which allows the person to move from his chair to the bench, once on the bench the person can slide toward the craft and enter it. Some Transfer Benches have a board like plank that slides out of the bench and over the top of the water craft, allowing a person to drop directly into the water craft. Some Transfer Benches have no transfer slide plank, but is just a level beach, or better ones have shallow steps that one successively moves down to get to the level of their water craft, once at the end of the bench one pivots towards their water craft, and then goes down into the craft (reverse the process to get out). Many Transfer Systems will have a grab rails to assist a person in out of their craft. If no grab rail and/or transfer plank systems are available then its highly likely a person with a disAbility will need assistance from another person with sufficient strength and mobility to assist them in and out of their water craft... not ideal of course, but even without these features a bench will greatly assist in this process.
Kayak, Canoe, Small Sailboat Cradle/Stability/lifts Systems

Some accessible dock systems have a cradle like system to help stabilize a water craft so its does not rock excessively while a person is getting in and out of their craft. Many of these cradle systems have a hull slide system (rollers) to assist the craft in and out of the water. These systems must have a grab rail on both sides of the slide so a person can pull themselves up and down it. If a slide system does not have a grab rail system then its not in the least to be considered accessible. Other cradle systems act like an elevator lifting the water craft in and out of the water. Some elevator systems are strong enough to lift the craft while a person is in it, some are not.
Boat Slips

A boat slip is the portion of a pier, main pier, finger pier, or float where a boat is berthed or moored, or used for embarking or disembarking. Where boat slips are provided, the number of boat slips required to be accessible must comply with the table shown to the right. In these guidelines, boarding piers that are not part of boat launch ramps are also classified as boat slips. For purposes of these guidelines, piers not typically thought of as providing boat slips where boats can be moored, such as a fuel pier, are also included in determining the total number of slips at the facility.

If boat slips at a facility are not identified or demarcated by length, each 40 feet of boat slip edge along the perimeter of a pier will be counted as one boat slip. For example, a new boating facility will provide a single 60-foot pier with boats moored parallel to the pier on both sides. The pier has 120 feet of boat slip edge, which equates to three boat slips. According to the table, one slip must be accessible, with clear pier space at least 40 feet long and a minimum width of 60 inches. In this case, the width of the pier is not considered when totaling the amount of boat slip edge, since it is not designed for mooring. Another new boating facility plans to provide a single pier that is 25 feet long and 3 feet wide and will allow boats to moor on both sides and on one end. The pier has 53 feet of boat slip edge, which equates to two boat slips. According to the table, one slip must be accessible, and the width of the pier must be increased to a minimum of 60 inches.


Accessible boat slips must be dispersed throughout the various types of slips a facility provides, but a facility does not have to provide more accessible boat slips than required in the table. Accessible slips may be grouped on one pier if the requirement for different types of slips is met. Types could include shallow-water or deep water; transient or longer-term lease; covered or uncovered; and whether slips are equipped with features such as telephone, water, electricity, or cable connections.

Accessible boat slips do not need to be marked and are not reserved in the same way as accessible vehicle parking spaces. For example, facilities should hold the accessible slips open for persons with disabilities until all other slips are filled. At that point, the slip may be made available for general use. For seasonal slip holders, accessible slips should be held until the expiration period for slip contracts has expired. Marina operators may choose to make information regarding accessible boat slips available in promotional material or a facility guide. Ensuring that accessible slips are available to persons with disabilities is an operational issue and operators should contact the Department of Justice for further information.

Accessible Boat Slips

Accessible boat slips must have clear pier space at least 60 inches wide and as long as the slip. Providing more than 60 inches wide clear space will improve safety for people with disabilities, especially on floating piers. This space is the minimum necessary for individuals with disabilities to have sufficient space adjacent to their boat slip to use a chair lift or transfer device for getting on or off their vessel and provide a turning space for changing directions. Every 10 feet of linear pier edge serving the accessible slips must have at least one continuous clear opening that is at least 60 inches wide. There are three exceptions:
■ The width of the clear pier space may be 36 inches wide for a length of 24 inches, as long as multiple 36-inch segments are separated by segments that are 60 inches minimum clear in width and 60 inches minimum clear in length, and the clear openings are at least 60 inches deep.
■ Edge protection is not required, but if provided, it can be 4 inches high maximum and 2 inches deep maximum at the continuous clear openings.
■ In alterations, facilities with finger piers must have at least one accessible finger pier, which is the length of the boat slip and a minimum of 60 inches wide. Other accessible slips can be located perpendicular to the end of the pier with clearance extending the width of the slip. In facilities without finger piers, at least one accessible slip must be parallel to the pier and be a minimum of 60 inches wide (shown above).

Cleats and other boat securement devices at accessible slips do not have to comply with ADAAG reach range requirements. However, clear space must be provided at each securement device and each device must be located on an accessible route. This reach range exception does not apply to other controls and operating mechanisms such as hose bibbs, water supply hoses, outlets for electrical power, telephones, or cable TV.

Accessible Non-Motorized Kayak/Canoe Piers

There are several dock/pier manufactures who build specially designed accessible kayak/canoe piers for persons with disabilities to transfer in and out a kayak/canoe, and water safely. The pier includes a transfer station and kayak/canoe cradle system that keeps the craft from capsizing, and includes rails to assist the person with a disabilities to guide his/her craft in and out of the pier launch system. The piers/docks must meet ADAAG rules, but the pier transfer station and kayak/canoe guidance system is not officially required YET. The kayak  launch system should be at least 48 inches wide or preferably 60 inches wide, and be 12-18 feet long.

Kayak/Canoe Chute

A Kayak/Canoe chute is a launch and retrieval system specifically designed to get a kayak to and from a pier or water via either a long ramp, or rails, rollers, system. When a gangway is to steep for example such a system makes it easier and safer for a person with a disability to get their craft to and from the pier/water. There are no ADAAG requirements for such a system but a chute should at least have free uninhibited cross space of 48 inches wide minimum or up to 60 inches preferably. There should also be a simple winch system to help pull the a craft back up a chute, and be electric if possible. The scope of the system is dependent on if the craft will slide freely down to a pier or the water.  If very steep again a winch is needed to get the craft back up the chute.

Boarding Piers at Boat Launch Ramps

A boarding pier (sometimes called a courtesy pier or a launch dock) is the part of a pier where a boat is temporarily moored for embarking and disembarking. A boat launch ramp is a sloped surface designed for launching and retrieving trailered boats and other watercraft to and from a body of water. The provisions for boarding piers cover only those that are associated with boat launch ramps. Boarding piers that are not part of a boat launch ramp are classified as “boat slips” for purposes of these guidelines.

If boarding piers at boat launch ramps are provided, at least 5 percent but not less than one, must comply with these guidelines and be served by an accessible route. The exceptions for gangways, previously described above, may be applied to boarding piers (see pages 5–8).

In addition, gangways connecting floating boarding piers may exceed the maximum slope specified in the guidelines, if the total length of the gangway is at least 30 feet.

ADAAG ramp requirements do not apply to the portion of the accessible route serving a floating boarding pier or skid pier if it is located within a boat launch ramp. For example, a facility provides a chain of floats on a launch ramp to be used as an accessible boarding pier. At high water, the entire chain is floating and a transition plate connects the first float to the surface of the launch ramp. As the water level decreases, segments of the chain rest on the launch ramp surface, matching the slope of the launch ramp. An accessible route must serve the last float because it would function as the boarding pier at the lowest water level, before it possibly grounded out. Because the entire chain also functions as a boarding pier, it must comply with all ADAAG provisions, including the 60-inch minimum clear pier width provision.

Another facility provides a non-floating boarding pier that is supported by piles and divides a launch area into two launch ramps. An accessible route must connect the boarding pier with other accessible buildings, facilities, elements and spaces on the site. Although the boarding pier is located within a launch ramp, because the pier is not a floating pier or a skid pier, no exceptions apply. To comply with ADAAG, the accessible route could run down between the two launch ramps. Or, the fixed boarding pier could be relocated to the side of one of the launch ramps, which would allow the slope of the launch ramps to remain unchanged since the accessible route would run outside the launch ramps. Boarding Pier Clearances The entire length of accessible boarding piers must comply with the same technical provisions that apply to boat slips. There is no minimum length for the pier. However, the accessible boarding pier should be at least as long as other piers provided at the facility. If no other boarding pier is provided, it should be at least as long as what would have been provided if no access requirements applied. For example, at a launch ramp, if a 20-foot accessible boarding pier is provided, the entire 20 feet must comply with the pier clearance requirements. If a 60-foot accessible boarding pier is provided, the entire 60 feet must comply with the pier clearance requirements.

Launch Ramps Without Boarding Piers

There are no specific provisions that address access to launch ramps without boarding piers. The Department of Justice advises that if there are no applicable scoping requirements (i.e., how many features must be accessible), then a reasonable number, but at least one, must be accessible. It is recommended that an accessible route serve at least one launch ramp. The portion of the accessible route located within the launch ramp is not required to comply with the slope requirements for accessible routes.

More Information

You can obtain copies of the recreation facility guidelines, which include boating facilities, and further technical assistance from us with Access To Outdoors 208-704-4781 . Also via the ADA Access Board at

Files a Complaint

How to enforcement the ADA Access Board recreational facilities and Architectural Barriers Act rules?

If you feel a particular recreational facility that may have been federally funded should be fully or partially accessible you can file a complaint with us and we will look into it. Simply email us at or call/text 208-704-4454

In addition one can file a complaint with the ADA Access Board (ADAAB) at this link


One of the big challenges for persons without the use of their legs, persons with balance issues, etc. is getting in and out of their water crafts. A Transfer Bench/Station is a system that is level with a wheelchair seat, which allows the person to move from his chair to the bench, once on the bench the person can slide toward the craft and enter it. Some Transfer Benches have a board like plank that slides out of the bench and over the top of the water craft, allowing a person to drop directly into the water craft. Some Transfer Benches have no transfer slide plank, but is just a level beach, or better ones have shallow steps that one successively moves down to get to the level of their water craft, once at the end of the bench one pivots towards their water craft, and then goes down into the craft (reverse the process to get out). Many Transfer Systems will have a grab rails to assist a person in out of their craft. If no grab rail and/or transfer plank systems are available then its highly likely a person with a disAbility will need assistance from another person with sufficient strength and mobility to assist them in and out of their water craft... not ideal of course, but even without these features a bench will greatly assist in this process.


Some accessible dock systems have a cradle like system to help stabilize a water craft so its does not rock excessively while a person is getting in and out of their craft. Many of these cradle systems have a hull slide system (rollers) to assist the craft in and out of the water. These systems have a grab rail on both sides of the slide so a person can pull themselves up and down it. Other cradle systems act like an elevator lifting the water craft in and out of the water. Some elevator systems are strong enough to lift the craft out of the water while a person is in it, some are not. 
For more info on pricing, etc. contact FunToSail at or visit


Access Mats and Ramps are hard services made of plastic or metal that can be rolled out or placed in sections on beaches or on soft ground to allow wheeled mobility devices to roll freely down to the edge of or into the water without sinking into the sand or mud. Such systems allow person with a disability to easy go swimming or launch and retrieve their non-motorized water craft. Prices vary from the various manufactures. For plastic mats visit Access Rec, LLC at . For aluminum mats/ramps system visit Roll-A-Ramp at . EZ Docks can build a hard surface permanent or mobile ramp... visit Also visit For additional info contact FunToSail or visit


If you need help making an outdoor site accessible, maybe there are people creating barriers to the outdoors, or you need a product made accessible, or just need information please contact an ATO specialist at

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