Boating at Yellowstone

Boating at Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone National Park offers a variety of wonderful boating experiences for both the novice boater and more advanced captain. Whether you choose to kayak, canoe, sail or motor boat, you can enjoy the best views of wildlife, Yellowstone thermal features, and mountain vistas from the extraordinary vantage point of the water.

Outboards and rowboats may be rented from Yellowstone’s vendor Xanterra Parks & Resorts at Bridge Bay Marina on Yellowstone Lake. The staff at Xanterra is friendly and very helpful, and can give you great ideas for boating locations that will make you forget about the fee you have paid to get there.

Permits are required for all boats and float tubes, and passengers must have access to a Coast Guard approved wearable flotation device for each person. All boat permits (motorized & non-motorized) can be purchased at the South Entrance, Grant Village Backcountry Office, and Bridge Bay Ranger Station.

Motorized boats are allowed on Lewis Lake and Yellowstone Lake, and can be launched from
Bridge Bay Marina, Grant Village, and Lewis Lake Campground. Sailboats may use the boat ramps at Bridge Bay Marina and Grant Village. Canoes and kayaks are permitted on all park lakes particularly Yellowstone Lake, Lewis Lake and Shoshone Lake.

Favorite Hide-aways – Don’t feel shy about asking staff, park rangers, or other visitors where they enjoy boating. You’ll find, like many things in life, that the best water locations are only shared by word of mouth. Staff at the Bridge Bay Marina and Grant Village slips can be especially resourceful. Lewis Lake is the only location other than Yellowstone Lake where motorized boats may operate. Shoshone Lake has the largest back country and is a terrific location to view wildlife; however, it has no roads, so access is only available by non-motorized boats.

The Lewis River Channel between Lewis and Shoshone Lakes is approximately three miles long. Paddling upstream on the Lewis River Channel is not possible for about the northern most mile of the channel due to a swift current that appears in the early season. You will have to step out of your boat and wade upstream by walking on the river’s rocky bottom to return to your landing. Shoshone Geyser Basin Boaters can access the geyser basin via the small bay in the northwest end of the lake where there is a landing area and a trail to the basin.

Yellowstone Park’s Visitor Information Center offers maps and boating permits, and can suggest a number of different boating operators for those visitors who prefer to sit back and enjoy the view.